I can’t say everything I learn about a passage of Scripture in every sermon. I have to content myself with leaving some thoughts, quotations, or helpful points on the cutting room floor. This blog has been and will be a great venue for me to share clips from the “extended edition” of some of my sermons! One such clipping follows.
On our trip through II Corinthians on Sunday mornings, we are currently at the beginning of chapter 4. This coming Sunday morning I’ll be preaching on God’s work of creation in the hearts of the lost, when He says, “Let there be light” and shines the blazing sunlight of His glory in people’s hearts so that they get saved.
The light of God’s glory is not shapeless, however; no, it is shaped like a man – Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 4:6 says that God shines “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” It is Jesus who is “the brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). God’s glory shines to us in a human face.
In Numbers 6, God commanded Aaron and his sons to bless the children of Israel with these words: “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Num. 6:24-26). God’s “face” shining upon His people was a sign of His favour and blessing.
But, as God Himself reminded Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Ex. 33:20). That meant that no-one could see God’s glory at its brightest intensity; God and man were still separated because of man’s sin. God could not give the ultimate blessing of showing the beauty of His face to any person, for they would be instantly incinerated because of their sinfulness. His face could not “shine” upon His people in its brightest, most life-giving and joy-giving loveliness.
But II Corinthians 4:6 shows that in Jesus, God turns His face upon us – and we live instead of dying! The Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:25 is fulfilled in Jesus Christ! Today, at the end of the ages, in Jesus, God has shined His face upon us. He has smiled upon us and poured out His favour upon us to its fullest extent. God cannot possibly give us more than He has already given us in Jesus Christ.
But we have not yet experienced all that God has given us in Jesus. For our joy of knowing Jesus today will one day be surpassed when we see Him not “through a glass darkly,” but “face to face” (I Cor. 13:12). One day “there shall be no more curse”; instead, “the throne of God and of the Lamb” will be on earth, and – here is the peak of glory and happiness! – His servants “shall see his face” (Rev. 22:3-4). If the down payment of this glory and joy, which we have today, fills us with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8), what will be the full enjoyment of seeing Jesus’ face?