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:
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 dranket 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:
You cannot see me and live no man shall see me and live
In John’s Gospel chapter 1, verse 18, John writes:
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:
First of all, the existence of an eternal realm alongside the temporal or the visible realm.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul, speaking about some of his troubles which he’s had, says:
Obviously this is saying here that there is a visible realm which you can see, which is actually temporal, it is passing away, and there is an invisible realm which is not passing away, which is eternal: the realm where God dwells.
If you’re an atheist, you’re going to deny this and say there’s no God, there’s no heaven, there’s nothing outside of us, it is just what we can see and touch.
But if you’re a believer in the Bible, and a believer in God, then you have to recognize that this realm exists, whether we can see it or not, it is there. Therefore there is a realm where God exists, and the physical realm where we exist.
In the present time, these two realms are separated because of the fact of sin.
If you go right back to the beginning, to Genesis chapter 3, you find that in the garden, prior to the fall, it appears that God had fellowship with Adam and with Eve. It says in Genesis 3 verse 8:
They weren’t actually surprised to hear the sound of God walking in the garden. Did you notice that? So, it appeared that that was something which they were familiar with, that God was present there. The Lord (and it uses the word for ‘The Lord God’, the most powerful word in Hebrew for God) was there and God was walking and talking with them in the garden.
By the way, I do take a literal view of Genesis. So, if you think that this is myth, well, have a word with me afterwards. But I believe it is an event which happened, the fall of man explains everything that comes afterwards in the Bible.
We see of course that the reason why God asked this question (where are you?) is because they had already disobeyed the one Commandment which He gave to them: not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Under the influence of the other side of the story, the influence of the serpent in which Satan was in-dwelling, who called them to question God and then to disobey God’s Command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and good and evil.
As a result of this, sin came into the world and the fellowship between God and man was separated, now broken. Sin and death entered in and God clothed them with animal skins, a sacrifice. God also promised that there would be a redeemer, a redeemer who would come to crush the head of the serpent and would be bruised in the in the process.
Adam and Eve were then expelled from the garden of Eden and that meant that they were no longer able to go to the tree of life and to live forever.
Satan, the serpent, had now become the god of this world.
The rest of the Bible is actually God’s story, the story of God’s recovery from this process into which we would come into a relationship with God.
Now, God dwells in the unseen realms, in heaven, in holiness. Humans dwell in the seeing realms on the earth under the influence of Satan sin and subject to death.
Either we recognize this or we don’t recognize it. But, whether we recognize it or not, we do live and move and have our being in God.
God also opens a door of communication to us. In Genesis 5, we read how men began to call on the name of the Lord to open up the communication of prayer.
We also see the promise of the redeemer to come and the revelation that the redeemer who would come would be Himself a divine person. This is clear if you read through many of the scriptures in the Hebrew text: that the redeemer to come would not be a great man who set us free but would be Himself God, Emmanuel, God with us, coming to redeem us.
Job, in one of the most remarkable passages in Hebrew scriptures in the midst of all his troubles and his sufferings in Job chapter 19 verse 25 he makes this amazing statement which must have been revealed to him by the Spirit of God. He says:
We have Job there, triumphantly asserting in the midst of all his troubles, that my redeemer lives, that one day, He’s going to stand on the earth and that, after his skin is destroyed, in other words, ‘after I’ve died‘ he’s saying, I shall see God in my flesh. I shall see God. Notice he’s saying here that in my flesh I shall see God. He’s saying that ‘I, Job, as a man, will see God. I won’t be merged into some sort of infinite soup of beings. I will be myself in a resurrection body and I will see God.‘
Here, we have this promise to the believer and he’s longing for this.
It tells us also that therefore, there must be a resurrection, the resurrection of the dead, and when Jesus comes, He’s going to tell us that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
In John chapter 5 verse 25, Jesus says:
In other words, there’s going to be a general resurrection of the dead whether you believe in God whether you believe in the resurrection or not will make no difference, there will be a resurrection of the dead. Some to resurrection to life, some to resurrection to judgment or condemnation.
Revelation 20 verse 11 John says in Revelation:
At that point, those who are not written in the Book of Life are actually cast into the Lake of Fire, whereas those who are written in the Book of Life enter the New Jerusalem into heaven where they will have fellowship with God and they will see God.
I hope and pray everybody who’s listening to me has their name written in the Book of Life. If you don’t, make sure that you do it by the time I finish this talk, or even now! Call on the name of the Lord and be saved because that’s the most important thing you can do in this life while you’re still in the body. While you can’t actually see God physically, you can call on the name of the Lord and know that you’re saved so that when you die, you’ll be with Him forever.
In Revelation 21 verse 3 it says:
So, you can see from these scriptures that both the saved and the unsaved will see God after death. To the one it’ll be to eternal death, the other to eternal life.
And I said that’s why we need to make our peace with God now by believing the Gospel and linking up our temporal life which is passing away with his eternal life which is unchanging and which will live forever. And God the father who is invisible in life will be visible after death.
That’s actually why it says you can’t see God and live, because, if you see God, by definition, if you see God the Father, you would have died.