INTRODUCTION – If, when you read this verse, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), your shoulders kind of sag, and your spirit grieves a bit, then your response is pretty normal.
Here are a couple of rather sobering comments from two of my favorite commentators on this passage:
“Here, then, we are face to face with one of themes magnificent, and yet one of the most solemnizing and searching statements, which can be found anywhere in Scripture.” Martyn Lloyd Jones p. 108 “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”
“Some truths in the Bible you feel you can handle; some you feel you can get a grip on and transmit. There are those things that seem like bottomless pits, wells whose depths are immeasurable, truths the breadths of which are impossible to encompass. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for the shall see God,” is one of those.” John MacArther Jr. “Kingdom Living Here and Now” on the Beatitudes
Because of time and how important the truths in this passage are, this morning I would like to just focus on one aspect of it. And that is how absolutely crucial it is that you and I see God.
You know there are a lot of things that can dramatically impact your life. Finding and marrying a perfectly suited (for you) spouse who thinks you hung the moon; Winning the lottery, or Getting an unexpected large inheritance; Running for a political office on a whim and actually getting elected; Getting the promotion of a lifetime with a company that is on the cutting edge in its field; etc. But none of that can touch the life changing impact of seeing God.
You see, you can get that perfectly suited spouse and they can eventually turn on you or even leave you; you can win the lottery or receive that inheritance and become so distracted and obsessed by what you are going to do with all the money that it becomes a nightmare – especially as you begin to see those close to you negatively impacted by it; you can win that political race or get that promotion of a lifetime only to find the pressures that are now on you make you long for the time when life was simpler and you didn’t have so many enemies and critics and high expectations.
But when you see God, you will never be the same. And you will never long for what you once had. When people see God everything changes. What seemed like a most desperate situation – when you see God – all of a sudden is not that big of a deal. What seemed like an impending disaster – when you see God – all of a sudden appears to be over-comeable. What seemed like a ho-hum life with no real significance or destiny – when you see God – becomes a life where you find yourself literally impacting the nations. What seemed like insurmountable odds – when you see God – now looks manageable or possible.
Well if that is the case, we best understand what Jesus means by seeing God. When Jesus says, “they shall see God” what exactly does He mean?
Well one thing we know He does not mean is that we will see God’s physical form or that we will physically see Him fully as He is in heaven. Moses learned that in Exodus 33:17-23 when he prayed that God would “show Him His glory.” Evidently what Moses had in mind was that God would immediately show Moses His very being, not knowing – as God explains vs. 20 of that passage, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live.” Perhaps the apostle John had this passage in mind when he said in his gospel chapter 1, vs. 18, “No man has seen God at any time,” If we were to physically see God in all His glory we would be toast – badly burned toast at that.
Now if your minds are thinking theologically right now – you might be wondering, “Well what about the time God commanded King David to seek His face? (Turn to Psalm 27:7-10)
What we find in the Old Testament is that depending on the context, God’s face can mean one of two things: 1. It can mean His unhidden, unshielded glorious being just as it is in heaven, which we know no mortal man can see, and live to tell about it. 2. Or it can mean God’s person – as in His attributes, His heart and mind, His ways, His will – – His character, and His specific will and word for you in whatever situation you find yourself in. God’s greatest expectation of His people, and one of the things that most delights Him is that we would give ourselves to seeking His face or knowing Him as He truly is. For those of you reading through the book of Jeremiah right now in your reading through the Bible plan, you will eventually see, if you haven’t already that God’s greatest judgment of His people is that they didn’t seek Him or starve to know Him – – often He rebuked them because they have forgotten or forsaken Hi, and looked to idols or people or government elders for their needs and solutions rather than to Him.
Now there are a number of people in the world who know what the Bible says about God’s person. They know intellectually that He is good and merciful and powerful, etc. But this intellectual knowledge does not affect their joy, their attitudes and their responses to life’s difficulties; nor does it please or delight God.
The masses or crowds in Jesus’s day knew and saw God in this way. Remember that time when Jesus told the parable of the sower to the crowds, and then later His disciples came to Him asked Him why He spoke to them in parables? Jesus said of them, and this was definitely true of the religious leaders of His day – the scribes and the Pharisees – – “I speak to them in parables, because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, “You will keep on hearing but will not understand. You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive.” These people knew things about God, but it did not affect their inner attitudes, their habits or their behavior. According to researcher – George Barna, this could be said of may of the people who go to church in America on a given Sunday. While they may know certain things about God because of their occasional church attendance, their inner hidden lives are still the same. Monday to Saturday they are pretty much like everyone else on their block, or in their office or classroom.
Seeing God goes way beyond intellectual knowledge. Seeing God means in the midst of my pain, my disappointment, met heart pumping fear, my bewilderment, or just my dullness – – I connect with God and I find Him to be everything I need for the situation I find myself in. When you and I truly see God, peace and joy and courage return – even in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances. When you and I truly see God, humility sets in, love for people sets in, faith for the future sets in, willingness to sacrifice sets in, vision and purpose and meaning sets in.
Let’s look at some examples: How about Job? Job 42:5,6 (recount story) “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”
What about Moses? Moses’s ability to see God enabled him to leave Egypt with the Hebrews – knowing that this fickle Pharaoh most likely would pursue him with all of his military might, and they without any weapons to defend themselves. Here is what the writer of Hebrews says about him, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.” Heb. 11:27
What about King David? Examples of the impact seeing God had on David in the Psalms are plenteous. Psalm 34:4-7 Psalm 40:1-3
One of my favorites is Psalm 73, which was written by Asaph actually.
Ever think about Paul in his last days in prison? II Tim. 1:8, 12
Closing prayer and communion