Can You Imagine? :: By Randy Nettles

Have you ever wondered or dreamed about what it will be like when we see our Savior, Jesus Christ, at the Rapture? Or, for some people, it could even be at the end of the Great Tribulation, when Jesus returns to the earth at Armageddon in all of His glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is the 2nd Person of the Triune Godhead. His name of old was Jehovah. He is our Lord and Savior and has a glorious countenance, for He is Almighty God.

I can imagine His appearance will overwhelm our senses with His beauty, power, and Godliness. Here is a great song by MercyMe, singing about what it will be like when we see Him for the first time and how we will react to His glory. You might want to listen to it while you read this article. The lyrics are at the bottom of the page. My thanks to Cynthia Nuara for pioneering this technique of incorporating relevant songs, lyrics, or classic literature within the article itself.

This Biblically-based article consists of six Jewish prophets of God who saw the Lord God (in one form or another) in His magnificence and glory. Some of them saw him more than once. There were ten sightings which were in the form of visions, theophanies, or where the Lord’s appearance was hidden by dark clouds, smoke, and fire. The first reaction most of them had was one of fright. The next reaction was one of awe and wonder. The third reaction would be one of overwhelming love. Of course, we can only imagine…

1) Moses and the children of Israel see the glory of the Lord on Mount Sinai

“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up” (Exodus 19:16-20).

Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.’ So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:18-21).

“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of the elders of Israel; and they saw the God of Israel and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in His clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand, also they saw God, and did eat and drink. And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give you tables of stone (10 Commandments), and a law, and commandments which I have written; that you may teach them” (Exodus 24:9-12). This was a theophany of the Lord whereas He took the form of a mighty angel.

“And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it 6 days. And the 7th day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and got him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount 40 days and 40 nights” (Exodus 24:15-18).

“So the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.’ And Moses said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’ Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’  But He said, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.’  And the Lord said, ‘Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen'” (Exodus 33:17-23).

After Moses saw God’s back and received the second 10 Commandments from the Lord, his face shone from the encounter. Aaron and the children of Israel were afraid to come near him. Moses called them together and gave them all the commandments that the Lord had given him. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. “But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded” (Exodus 34:33-34).

No one can see the face of the Lord, in His Shekinah glory, and live. The only way you can see His face is through a vision, theophany, or in some environment where His features are obscured. However, when we are raptured and receive our new spiritual bodies, that are made for eternity, we will be able to gaze upon the face of God forevermore.

2) David sees a glorious theophany of the Lord in the form of a mighty angel

Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces” (1 Chronicles 21:16). “For the tabernacle of the Lord and the altar of the burnt offering, which Moses had made in the wilderness, were at that time at the high place in Gibeon. But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:29-30).

While David did not see the Lord in all His glory, it was a sight that was so frightening and powerful that I had to mention it.

3) Isaiah has a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts‘” (Isaiah 6:1-5).

4) Isaiah has a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns to the Earth at Armageddon

“Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? —’I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered That there was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth'” (Isaiah 63:1-6).

5) Isaiah describes the Lord at Mount Sinai and hints at the Rapture

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence— As fire burns brushwood, As fire causes water to boil—To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presenceFor since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen, Oh God, beside You [Jesus], what He has prepared for them that love Him. You [Jesus] meet him [at the Rapture] who rejoices and does righteousness, those that remember You in Your ways” (Isaiah 64:1-5).

6) Ezekiel sees a vision of God, the Son, in His glory  

And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one who spoke” (Ezekiel 1:26-28).

This description of the Lord is similar to the one Moses gave in Exodus 24:9.

7) Daniel sees God, the Father, in a dream/vision. Glory!

“I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days [the Father] was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, and its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10).

“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man [Jesus], coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days [the Father], and they brought him near before Him. And there was given to him dominion and glory and a kingdom; that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

8) Daniel sees God, the Son (Jesus/Jehovah), in a vision

I was watching; and the same horn [Antichrist] was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (Daniel 7:21-22).

Three times in Daniel 7, God is called the Ancient of Days. 3 is the number for divine perfection, and 7 is the number for spiritual perfection. Chapter 7 of Daniel certainly verifies this idea.

The first two descriptions are talking about God, the Father, while the last one is in regard to God, the Son (Jesus), who will destroy the Antichrist at Armageddon. However, all three are described as the Ancient of Days.

In the New Testament, Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9).

9) John has a vision of Jesus Christ in His glory and a theophany of the Holy Spirit

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands (the seven lampstands represent the seven-fold spirit of God, who is the third Person of the Triune God), One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:12-16).

This description of Christ in His glory sounds exactly like the one given by Daniel regarding the Ancient of Days.

10) John has a vision of the Lord Jesus when He returns to the Earth at Armageddon. Glory! Glory!

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16).

As Paul said (quoting Isaiah) in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man [imagination], the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” However, the next verse supersedes Paul’s previous statement.

“But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Randy Nettles

Lyrics to the song “I can only imagine” by MercyMe:

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I would do
Is forever—forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine…