On Sunday, April 18, we sang that great hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” I can even now hear the shriek of the nuns in the movie Sister Act. But that is not what I am writing about. I was caught up in the words of the third verse as we sang them.
Crown Him the Lord of love; behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified;
No angels in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bend their burning eyes at mysteries so bright.
I was reminded that the angels cannot look on the glory of the Lord. We are told in Isaiah 6:2 that the seraphim, whose job is to worship God all day and all night, were created with six wings. Two wings are used for flying, two are used to cover their feet, and two are used to cover their faces. Here are angels without sin, created to worship God, and they cannot “fully bear that sight.” It is too bright. It is too glorious. God’s beauty would destroy them.
And then there is us. We are here on earth and we have sinned. We cannot look on God’s glory right now, but we will when we get to heaven. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” John also writes in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see him as He is.” Wow!
We shall see God face to face in heaven. Not a veiled, covered face, but face to face. We shall see Him as He is. We will see what the angels are not allowed to see and long to see. We will see our Father. We will see the Trinity and finally understand. We will see Jesus—not the Jesus they saw in Jerusalem, but the full glory Jesus whom even His friends bowed down to at the Transfiguration.
I remember going to the Grand Canyon. I remember getting to the clearing and looking out. I stopped and I stared. It was so much more than I had ever imagined. I could not take it all in. It was so mesmerizing. I was overwhelmed with its beauty. So I cannot help but wonder what it will be like to see Jesus. Will I ever stop staring? Will I fall on my face like John when he saw Jesus in heaven (Revelation 1:17)? Will I embrace Him? Will I be able to speak? I know I won’t want to leave, and the great thing is that I will not have to. I will be able to take Jesus in. I will be able to behold His hands and side. I will see love. I will see joy. I will see glory. I will see the most beautiful thing in all of heaven and earth. Richard Baxter (Our dog Baxter’s namesake from the 1600s) put it this way: “When perfect created love and most perfect uncreated love meet together, oh the blessed meeting!”
Oh the blessed meeting! I know why Paul says to the Philippians in 1:21,23, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” I know why he wanted to depart. He wanted to be with Jesus. He wanted to see Him. He wanted to be embraced by Him and see Him face to face. I want to see Him too. I want to look deeply into His eyes.
I wear contacts, and even with the contacts, I do not see as well as I would like. But in heaven I will have new eyes—eyes that are perfect and without sin. I will have new eyes that will be able to take it all in. I will be able to see the layers and brightness of His glory. I will be able to see Him and understand so much more. It will be perfect and I will never want to leave.
I can’t wait. And just think, I have not even gotten around to thinking what it will be like to be fully known and fully loved.