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Why doesn’t God show us His physical presence?

In the Old Testament God had a physical presence on earth referring to Moses’ encounter with Him near the burning bush. You wondered why God no longer shows his presence in the same manner today. 

Moses was directed to the burning bush when he saw the angel of the LORD within it. It was then that God spoke to Moses. See Exodus 3. God did not visibly show Moses his “physical” presence (really spiritual glory) at that time. Moses later went on to speak with the LORD many times in his life. He was in God’s presence at least seven times when he went up to Mount Sinai to commune with God. 

However, on the seventh visit to the mountain, God did more than just speak to Moses. On this visit He gave Moses a glimpse of His glory. See Exodus 33:12-23. Because the LORD was pleased with Moses, God granted Moses’ request to see His glory in order that he and God’s people would be distinguished from all other people on the face of the earth (verses 15-17). Before God revealed his goodness He said, 

“You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (verse 20). The LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23 

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony [the Ten Commandments] in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.” Exodus 34:29 

Soon afterward Moses put a veil over his face.

“But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. . . . Then he would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.” Exodus 34:33, 35 

We recount the above event because we believe this is the only time God allowed a human to see even a mere glimpse of the backside of his countenance. Although God had communicated orally as well as through visions, dreams, or whirlwinds with many righteous characters in the Old Testament, this incident with Moses on Mount Sinai is the only time He revealed his presence visually. 

Why does God not reveal himself in a like manner today? 

The answer is that there is no longer any need to do so since Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is through our belief and faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that we as Christians are considered God’s children and are offered a new and living way, thereby allowing us direct access to the throne of God, our Father, in prayer through the blood of Jesus, his Son. See Hebrews 10:19-22 and Romans 8:15. 

The Apostle Paul helps us understand the difference between Moses’ relationship with God and ours in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18.

 Paul tells us,

We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away” (verse 13). 

“For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!” (verses 10-11). 

“But all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” (verse 18)                 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

Here Paul is saying that we Christians no longer need to have a veil over our faces, but are to be mirrors that reflect the glory of God. 

These scriptures remind us that the gospel of Jesus Christ has an eternally enduring brightness that outshines anything that Moses ever experienced. The Old Covenant of Moses was based on human works and was, therefore, ultimately transitory and fading. We are living in the final time of the church, a time of faith, where God is calling out a people unto himself to be the Bride of his Son Jesus in heaven, through which the entire world of mankind will ultimately be blessed. 

Since we now live by faith in the Word of God, the Bible, we do not need visible proof of God’s presence. One of the challenges for the Christian is to remove the veil of unbelief so that the radiance of Jesus Christ might be reflected in every area of life for all to see. 

To learn more about God listen to, “Who is God?”

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