Consider this simple hymn:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
Thousands of years ago, a man aged but with sight undimmed and strength undiminished climbed up a mountain and saw God. Moses was there because Israel’s people, whom the LORD God had just led out of Egypt, had already abandoned their God for a golden calf, causing the LORD’s wrath to fall upon them. Consequently, Moses had pleaded to God to forgive Israel and also that he, Moses, might see God’s glory. Upon Mt. Sinai, although the LORD renewed His covenant, Moses could not see God’s face–he had declared, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Ex 33:20). Moses thus was only allowed to see the back of His glory. Even then–so great is God’s glory–Moses’ face was shining as he descended the mountain. And at the very presence of this merely human reflection of the back of God’s glory, Israel was terrified, and Moses had to wear a veil.
Hundreds of years later, a man of unclean lips who dwelled amidst a people of unclean lips saw God in a vision. The LORD was awesome upon a throne. Above Him, seraphim flew while covering their eyes so they did not see God, and their whole apparent purpose was to call to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isa 6:3). At even these seraphim’s voices–the seraphim who did not see God–”the foundations of the thresholds shook… and the house was filled with smoke” (Isa 6:4). Terrified at the vision of God’s glory and his own utter sinfulness, Isaiah cried in despair, at which a seraphim took with tongs a coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips. His sin had been atoned for, it said. So when God called, Isaiah answered the call. Later, he delivered a message of a Savior to be born, to suffer for our transgressions, and to bring justice.
Fast forward another several hundred years. One who is fully God and fully man walked the earth, performed miracles, taught the coming kingdom of God, and proclaimed with authority, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jhn 14:9). Then He was crucified, and at the instant of His death, the curtain of the temple that set apart the Holy of Holies “was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mrk 15:38). Three days later, He rose, first from death and then to the heavens where to this day he intercedes for believers that they might “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace… [and] receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, believers are justified before the holy God and are being made new day by day.
No longer do we need a leader or priest or prophet to be our in-between with God. Jesus fills to infinite perfection all of those roles. One day–this is a faithful promise, words trustworthy and true–all children of God shall see not the back of God’s glory nor a vision of His throne but the Lord God face to face on His glorious throne in the new heavens (Rev 22:3-4). They shall be worshiping Him as all humans were designed to do.
Till then we should keep our eyes on Jesus, not physically but spiritually. That means that our focus is sharp and clear on Jesus–all else is in the periphery. As Paul famously confessed, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi 3:8,14).
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Many of us know this–that Jesus’ worth is surpassing and that the peace, joy, and promises He provides puts to shame all that we could possibly gain in this world. Yet we still lose focus. We still see the things of earth before Christ. Whether it is because worries consume us or because we can’t get ourselves to desire and seek God in a way that we know we should, Scripture tells us that we can draw with confidence to God’s throne of grace and mercy through Christ (Heb 4:16). In other words, pray. Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is a promise.
When the world seems to be going awry, whether morally or politically or relationally or personally, look to Jesus. It may seem like a tradeoff to sacrifice any worldly things you cling to, but Jesus far surpasses those. If you earnestly pray and seek God on the foundation of Scripture, you will find that ironically the best way to look out for yourself is to stay focused on Jesus because we were made for God’s glory (Isa 43:7).
Verse Spotlight: Colossians 3:1-4
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Photo Credits: Hannah Wong