His servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
In Exodus 3, when Moses hears God calling to him from a burning bush, Moses instinctively hides his face, afraid to look directly at God. Many chapters later, after Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai, he descends from the mountain “radiant”—to a degree, in fact, that the people of Israel are afraid to come near him. And at the opposite end of your Bible, in the book of Acts, when Saul encounters the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, he receives temporary blindness and a permanent new purpose and name. As we read in today’s text from Revelation, the author John proclaims, “[God’s] servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”
I wonder what would have happened to Moses had he not averted his eyes; what would he have seen? I wonder what exactly it was about Moses’ incandescence, as he returned from the mountaintop, that caused the Israelites to keep a safe distance. What did the light that Paul saw look like, and what precisely did John see on the foreheads of those who served God?
There’s a mystery and a sort of “you had to be there” element in all of these accounts. But one theme is prominent: there’s something about encountering God that leaves us both utterly awestruck and indelibly changed.
I have not heard God’s audible voice and I have never yet had anyone tell me I have that just-saw-Jesus glow about me. Perhaps you have had dramatic and pivotal moments of encountering God; or perhaps, like me, you’ve acquired a lifetime of experiences, each of which revealed more and more of God’s awe-inspiring face. Either way, those encounters have shaped who we are and continue to transform us.
What’s interesting to me is that in each of these biblical accounts about seeing God’s face or God’s glory, the change is outwardly discernible. Those who encounter God don’t just feel different; they look different. (And, in Moses’ case, it was the reaction of others that alerted him to his own transformation.)
This common thread causes me to question my own “appearance”: do the people I meet see God’s brilliance reflected in me? How might I open myself up to let other people observe God’s transformative power in my life? How might I glow with God’s astonishing glory, goodness, and love in ways that are unmistakable to everyone I meet? How might God’s glory radiate from me not just in what I say, but in who I am and how I live?
Wonderful God, may I approach you with awe and humility fitting to who you are. Continue to reveal your face to me so that I might more boldly reflect you in the world.