By Eld. Yap Chee Kian
Some weeks back, Elder Sim in his message exhorted us to “Gaze Upon Christ”. When we gaze upon our Lord Jesus Christ, we are looking at God. The Bible tells us that no man can look at God and live (Exodus 33:20). When we realize our own sinfulness, we cannot bear to look at God. In Genesis, we are told that after the fall Adam and Eve hid from the presence of God (Gen 3:7-10). The fellowship they have with the Almighty had been broken. God, however, in His mercy and grace, looked at them and provided the means to restore man back to God. What about you, dear Reader? Have you gazed at God lately? Do not let sin get in the way of our looking at God. Let us consider the saints who showed us the merits of looking at God.
People who had seen God in the Old Testament
The Bible bears record of many people in the Old Testament who saw God. Among them were Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and Isaiah; and their lives were changed forever after their encounter with God. Abraham became the father of many nations (Gen 17:3, 5). From an arrogant person, Moses became the meekest man (Num 12:3) whom God called his friend (Ex 33:11) and he led God’s people out of Egypt. Joshua met the Angel of the Lord of host (Joshua 5:13-15). Bible commentators call this encounter a theophany and based on John 1:1, it is a Christophany, or a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ. After this encounter, Joshua led the Israelites to victory in the Battle of Jericho. Lastly, Isaiah, when he saw God’s glory, was cleansed, convicted and called (Isa 6:1-8).
People who had seen God in the New Testament
God fulfilled Simeon’s desire to see Christ. The record in Luke 2:25-32 tells us what his eyes of faith saw: God’s salvation, the light to the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. That was even when Christ was then a baby.
John tells us in the New Testament to behold the Lamb of God (John 1: 29, 36) who came to take away the sins of the world. If we gaze upon Jesus in this manner, we will see Him as our Saviour. We need to look not only in faith but also know that Jesus is the object of our faith.
Peter and his brother Andrew were called by the Lord when they were fishermen (Matt 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11). Luke 5:8 tells us that Peter realized that he is a sinful man. Jesus’ words to him were “Fear not” (v10) and they forsook everything to follow the Lord. Peter witnessed Jesus’ miracle in the feeding of the 5000 (Matt 14:19-22). In the verses following, Peter had a teaching moment when he looked at his circumstances and left sight of Jesus. Only when he looked upon Christ again, was he saved.
It is interesting to note that the Bible tells us in Matt 14:23 that Jesus was praying alone. Even Jesus needs to spend time praying to God alone. Jesus himself taught that His power lay in His continuous look at God (John 5:19-21).
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles met and encountered Christ in the most dramatic way and his life was forever changed. Read all the book of Acts and the epistles and you will agree that many wonderful things can happen when we gaze upon God.
Are we looking at Jesus?
W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God: Chapter 7 – The Gaze of the Soul), an American Christian pastor, preacher and author, quoted Heb 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” to encourage his readers to take time to look at our Saviour. In the Old Testament, when the Israelites sinned because of their unbelief, Moses made a brass serpent (Num 21: 8, 9) for them to look upon. It is said that “when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived”. This is identical to looking and believing on Christ in the New Testament. There were those who did not and died. We see many around us in unbelief and they will die unless they look to Jesus. Sin has twisted our vision and made it self‑serving. Unbelief has put self where God should be, and we are perilously close to the sin of Lucifer who said, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:12).
The Bible exhorts us to lift up our eyes unto our Lord and draw near to Him and let the work of faith begin. When we do that, we are sure to meet our God (James 4:8). If you are not a believer, looking at God will save you from death. For those who are children of God, we need to remind ourselves of Peter and look continuously at God. When we gaze upon Jesus, we often need to do this alone. A. W. Tozer said, “Private prayer should be practiced by every Christian. Long periods of Bible meditation will purify our gaze.” People around us will soon notice the difference of one who had spent much time with God alone. Moses’ face shone when he came down from Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29,30). We will develop a new perspective which is that of our Lord. Let the gaze of our soul be upon our God.