Light for the Last Days

Seeing God in His dispensations

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Today we’re going to continue looking at passage in Exodus 24 which I read two or three weeks ago.

When I finished the talk on Exodus 24, I referred to a verse which speaks about how the elders of Israel who went up on the mountain with Moses and how they saw God.

Some people said to me: ‘Well, isn’t there a contradiction? It says they saw the God of Israel but there are also verses in the Bible which say “you cannot see God and live“‘

Has anybody ever thought about that? Sometimes, the sceptics might say: ‘Oh! That shows you the Bible doesn’t make sense. It contradicts itself.’

Well, we don’t believe that the Bible does contradict itself, and I believe that there is an explanation for this. Today, we’re going to try and look into it and see what we can learn on this subject.

Let’s just read the scripture from Exodus 24. It comes after Moses has read the Commandments the Law which God has given to him, to the children of Israel; the children of Israel have said as they hear the word: All that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient.

All that Lord has commanded me, I will do and be obedient. Then, Moses seals this with the shedding of blood in order to make this Covenant. The Covenant with Moses which was going to be the basis upon which God was going to deal with Israel in the time between Moses and Jesus the Messiah; it was the beginning of the ‘dispensation’ (we call it) of the Law. And after this we see that Moses in verse 9:

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.

Exodus 24.9-11

They saw the God of Israel. In the Hebrew, it uses the most basic word for ‘to see‘. It says Israel saw (the word which just means ‘to see‘), so that the implication is that it wasn’t just some sort of impression, it was something which they actually saw.

It also says that, in God’s presence, there, as they saw the God of Israel, they ate and they drank. And again, it uses the basic words in Hebrew for ‘eat‘ and ‘drink‘, the most basic physical actions we can perform as humans.

So, in the presence of God, they ate and they drank, and they saw the God of Israel.

Now, if you go on to chapter 33 of Exodus, in verse 18, we find that there is a passage where Moses asks God to show me your glory. Moses says:

18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” 19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Exodus 33.18-23

You cannot see me and live no man shall see me and live

In John’s Gospel chapter 1, verse 18, John writes:

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 1.18

So, let’s see if we can work out if there is an answer to this question.

I put to you that there are three answers.

The first one is that the Bible is very clear that there exists a realm where God exists, where God lives, and a realm where we live. God made the realm where we live but God continues to exist in the realm where He lives, we call it heaven.

There’s also a realm where Satan and the demons live. In fact, in Ephesians chapter 6, it speaks about the powers of darkness in the heavenly realms. So, there’s a realm where God lives, the realm where Satan lives, and a realm where we live.

Since the fall, there’s been a barrier between humanity – the human race – and God. God is Holy, we are sinful, and God and sin cannot coexist, therefore there has to be some separation between a Holy God and the sinful world.

However, at times, we see in the Bible that God breaks through into our realm in a special way.

The second point I want to make and which we’ll look at is that, according to the Bible, according to the Christian understanding of the Bible, God, whose name in Hebrew is Elohim (a plural masculine noun) exists as a triunity, a plural unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Son Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), is the visible person of the Godhead who appears in human form.

The third point refers to the fact that, at special times, especially at the end of one age and the beginning of another age (or a new age of dispensation), each time, God appears on the earth in some visible, special way. And this event which we’re talking about here in Exodus 24, with God appearing to the people in the time of Moses, is the time when He’s beginning the dispensation of the Law which will in turn end with the coming of Jesus.

Jesus is going to appear as God to bring in the dispensation we’re living in now, the dispensation of the church in which we come together God through faith in Jesus the Messiah.

Let’s have a look at those three propositions:

Just to close I’m going to briefly mention the third point I made that if you study the Bible you find that there are what we call dispensations or ages times when God changes the rules about which how he’s going to deal with human beings.

One of them was the beginning of the age of the Torah the Law given through Moses would exist until the coming of Jesus Yeshua the Messiah when he would come in human form and bring in the new Covenant.

This age will come to an end with the Second Coming of Jesus when again he will come in visible form to the earth to change the way in which things are run on the earth.

If you study the Bible with a belief that it is the inspired word of God and that it’s true from Genesis through to Revelation, you have to conclude that there are different dispensations in which God deals with humans at different times.

There is the fall, the flood, the call of Abraham, the giving of the commandments at Sinai, the coming of the Messiah in the person of Jesus: the First Coming and the Second Coming which will set up the Millennial Kingdom, followed by the end of the world, and the creation of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

In each case you’ll find when there is a change in the dispensation there is a visible coming of God into the situation.

We looked at the verse we started with: the vision of God by Moses and the elders of Israel. This is the ceiling, if you like, of the Covenant which God makes with this with His people Israel and it says, I repeat it:

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel.

Exodus 24.9-10

At this point, at the making of this Covenant, they saw the God of Israel. In the New Covenant, we’ve already said this, there’s a visible representation of God appearing on the earth in the person of Jesus Christ.

18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 1.18

I believe we’re living at the end of this age and that we’re seeing things happening which fulfil the prophecies of the Bible, which means that we should be ready for the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah.

10 signs of the Second Coming

If you look at this end time prophecies, the Second Coming prophecies, the most clear thing which you can see from them is that there will be a visible sign of the Messiah Jesus coming this time not as a ‘suffering servant’ but coming this time as the King of kings and Lord of Lords, coming with all the power of God, coming with His glory to judge the world in righteousness and to set up His Messianic Kingdom.

I believe that’s literally going to happen, and I believe we’re on the threshold of the end time events. So, we should be ready for that event to take place. And, if you look in the words about His second coming in Matthew 24, He says that His visible coming will set off the change into the Millennial Kingdom when He will be present on the earth, ruling the world in peace and justice.

Matthew 24.29 says:

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 24.29-30

In other words, there’s going to be a visible sign. First the darkness, then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven; most likely, there will be some piercing light, the shekinah, the glory of God which will be seen and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven, and the presence of the Lord with power and great glory.

This will be the change from this dispensation, the change of the dispensation in which we save by grace through the church, through believing the Gospel to the dispensation of the Millennium when Jesus will Himself rule on the earth during the one thousand-year period which we call the Millennial Kingdom, which I believe is going to happen.

Now during all these times, the invisible kingdom of God always exists alongside the visible world which we inhabit. But there are significant times when God breaks through, and significant times when He’s going to redeem the fallen world which has hidden Him from our sight and make Himself known to us.

While we’re in the body, while we’re in this body, now, within this temporal body, the most important thing is to come to know God through Jesus Christ that we can be ready for the day of judgment and ready to spend eternity with Him in the world to come.

Going back to John chapter 1 it says in verse 10:

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1.10-13

To come to know God now is something which every person can do no matter what your age, no matter what your intelligence, no matter where you come from. Every one of us can simply recognize that we are sinners, that we need a Saviour, that Jesus the Messiah died for our sins, that He was buried, He rose again from the dead, and that, if we repent and believe the Gospel, we will be saved and become the children of God. We will be born of God and be born to eternal life, become children of God. And those who make this contact with Him while in the flesh will see Him in the resurrection to eternal life.

Going back to 2 Corinthians chapter 4, it says:

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4.17-18

2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 1 says:

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 5.1

and verse 16:

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5.16-21

Praise the Lord Jesus who has come to make us into his children!

We can be born again to eternal life, we can become that new creation in which old things are passed away and all things are made new because Jesus died for us to reconcile us to God and He became sin for us that we might receive the righteousness of God in Him.

So praise God that’s how we can come to know the Lord!

If we make that step of faith, we will see Him in the resurrection of the dead and we will be with Him forever, which is a glorious prospect.

And anybody who doesn’t make that decision, I have to say, you will see Him in the resurrection of the dead but it won’t be a happy meeting. It’ll be your departure to eternal death in hell.

God doesn’t want anybody to go to hell. He wants us all to be saved. So now is the day to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, and to know that you have a glorious future and a glorious hope in Him.

Praise the Lord!

Let’s just have a word of prayer. Father, we do thank You that You have come to us as the Messiah, the suffering servant. That You laid down Your life as a sacrifice for our sins and that You rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

We thank You that though we don’t physically see You now, we will see You in the world to come. And we thank You for the great hope that You’ve given to us. We thank You Lord that our Redeemer lives and that You will stand at the last day on the earth and that we will be with You forever and ever.

And we praise You and thank You for this. May each one of us make that step of faith; may each one of us know that our sins are forgiven, that we have eternal life, and that our names are written in Your book of Life through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

Tony Pearce