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Safe Place with Ruth Graham

So many people, including me, wonder what God looks like. In my imagination I see him looking like Michelangelo’s Moses which is in the Vatican. Very imposing. Impressive. But last week as I was preparing  a message for a ladies’ retreat, I saw Him a bit differently. Maybe I am last one to see it but it was a new idea to me.

In the Bible God is always described in terms of light. Often He is given an anthropomorphic (Revelation 1:13-16) description but, in His essence, He is light.  Even the  description in chapter 1 of Revelation uses language of the human form: “like a son of man dressed in a robe…with a golden sash…head and hair were like wool…and eyes like blazing fire…feet like bronze glowing in a furnace…voice sounding like rushing water…His right hand held seven stars…out of His mouth came  a double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining all its brilliance.”   The writer described God in terms of a human form so that is how we imagine Him to be. But He was most often referred to as light or fire.

Light has four characteristics: intensity, quality, direction and balance. We can give those same characteristics to God. He is intense in His love for and pursuit of us. His judgement is intense towards all ungodliness and evil. His love and mercy toward mankind are unfailing. He is pure and holy in all His ways. Balance means to  have equilibrium. God is fair. He judges with equity.

In Revelation chapter 4 we are allowed to peek over John’s shoulder as he looks into heaven. John says he saw God’s throne and “one ” siting on it. I just assumed it had human form. But not necessarily a “person” as we might think. It is more of a brilliant light and color. In his earlier letter, St. John says, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” James tells us He is the father of heavenly lights, with whom there is no variableness of turning.  He is eternally the same. Constant.

When Ezekiel saw the vision of God he saw “A fire enfolding itself and brightness was around it.” He said it had the “appearance” of fire.

Moses was not allowed to see His face – no one was or, they would die. Moses was allowed to see His glory but only from behind.

Revelation when talking about heaven says, “It has no need of the sun or moon because the glory of God gives it light.”

God is light. And when Moses saw the burning bush it was God who was in the bush as a fire, not a human form. The bush didn’t burn up because it was light not literally fire. It appeared as fire and that is the only way Moses could describe it. My dictionary says light “is electromagnetic radiation to which our eyes react with a wave length from 400 to 700 nanometers with a speed of 186,28 miles per second”! I don’t begin to understand that.

All colors are dependent on light. In Revelation 4, John mentions all manner of gemstones surrounding the throne. Their colors of blue, gold, green, red, white…all dependent on the light from the Throne.

I can only imagine this light, this fire. It would be like staring at the sun. Brilliant. Dazzling.

And fire can be terrifying. I have seen news reports of devastating fires. (I admire firemen and am thankful for them.) Fire destroys – just think of the wildfires in California – so much damage and loss. I visited several years ago the areas in Colorado Springs that burned. One home owner gave me a jagged chunk of lavender colored glass and told me the fire had exploded a vase and this was all that was left. Though the fire was weeks before, the smell was still in the air. Yes, it is destructive. Yet, fire is purifying. It is healing. We use it for cooking. We use it for energy – like a coal-burning furnace. Fire demands respect.

But light isn’t always terrifying. Light can also be used for revealing things we can’t see otherwise. Light is comforting – just think of the child that wants a night-light. When I used to visit my mother and my arrival would be after nightfall, she always had the light on for me – like Motel 6!! I was always welcomed by the glow from the lantern by the front door.

God is light. Like light, He can’t be confined.  God cannot be confined – His realm is all the universes! He cannot be described – He just is. We see these attempts by John and Ezekiel but we understand that He is beyond description. God wants to be known. Jesus came to show us what God’s face looks like. Paul says we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus!

And one day we will stand face to face with Him. Glory.

 

 

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