Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Beatific Vision

The sixth beatitude contains an extraordinary promise: "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8; NKJV). This is sometimes called "the beatific vision," because the word "blessed" is "beati" in the Latin, and "vision," of course, is what is seen. What is so extraordinary about this promise is that ordinarily we are no able to see God at all. God told Moses at Mt. Sinai, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live" (Ex. 33:20). There are hints and suggestions in the Old Testament, however, that at some point in the future we will see God. David, for example, could say that God would not leave his soul in Sheol (the abode of the dead), but "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is the fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:11). And Job could foresee a time when his "Redeemer" would "stand at last on the earth," and that ". . .after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold . . . " (Job 19:25-27). The passage points to a future resurrection and a vision of God Himself.

This sight of God ought to be the highest goal of our existence. David could say, "One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord . . ." (Ps. 27:4), and "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory" (Ps. 63:1,2). If David could say this about the worship in the Tabernacle, how much more do we have to look forward to in heaven!

Our modern western society is exceptional for its stupidity. We devote our entire lives to the pursuit of temporally goods – things which don't last – and ignore completely our own highest good, which is God Himself. Even professing Christians get caught up in the mania of consumerism. But in the end we are left with nothing, and will rue the fact for all eternity.

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