Seeing God

Manoah

Judges 13:21-23 “When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord. ‘We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God.’ But his wife answered, ‘If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.’”

Manoah and his wife experienced special evidence of God’s presence and blessing in their lives, even though they weren’t aware of it at first. When the Old Testament speaks of the angel of the Lord, many times it is not referring to a created angel. It is referring to the Lord himself, more specifically the Son of God before he became a man. That is who was talking to this couple here. The Son of God was present in their lives, bringing them God’s promises, providing special blessings in the gift of a child, and one who would be a leader and deliverer for God’s people. They received all this before they even understood the identity of their mystery guest.

Then they experienced a rare and powerful demonstration of God’s presence in their lives. They both witnessed the Lord ascend into heaven in the flames of the sacrifice they were offering. It was an experience that literally brought Manoah and wife to their knees in awe and worship.

As the couple considered what they had just experienced, each of them had special insights into what had happened. Manoah thinks that they are doomed to die. Maybe we are tempted to say that Manoah is over-reacting. He is being melodramatic. But Manoah understood something far too many people fail to get. This was not merely an overreaction.

Remember what God said to Moses after the golden calf incident, when Moses wanted to see God face to face? God told Moses that he would make all of his glory pass by, and Moses could see his backside. But Moses could not see God’s face, “For no man may see me and live.” Remember how Isaiah reacted when God appeared to him in a vision to call him to his service? The Lord was seated high on his throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple, and smoke filled the temple, and angels were crying out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory.” What was Isaiah’s response? “Woe to me–I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!”

These men all understood that it is a dreadful, terrifying thing for sinners to stand in the presence of the Holy God. Our world is all too free and easy about where we stand with God. We could stand to take God more seriously. We can use a healthy dose of awe, reverence, and dread, especially when we consider the damning nature of our sins.

But that’s only half the story. Manoah’s wife had a special insight, too. She not only looked at the great power and considered that they had been standing in the presence of the Holy God. She had listened. She heard God’s promises and the blessing they were being given. God said he was sending his people a deliverer, a savior, and he was using this family to do so. Far from meaning to kill them, God had promised to save them.

God still wants you to listen to what he says, especially when he tells you that he has sent you a Deliverer, a Savior, who has come to spare your life. God wants you to hear the promise that he has taken your sins away and filled the void with Jesus’ love and his Spirit’s power. God wants you to be sure that his plans for you don’t end soon, because they don’t end here. Because of his grace and promise, his plans for you will mean life that never ends in heaven.

Then our evidence of God’s blessing will encompass far more than brief encounters. Our vision of God will be constant, and so will our life in his presence.

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