Recently I was browsing through a copy of the Time book, “Eyewitness: 150 Years of Photojournalism.” Within moments I was reliving many of significant events captured through the lens of the camera. I better understood the brutal tragedy of the Civil War, the jubilant celebration of victory at the end of WWII, the aching misery of the poor throughout the world, and the fragility of the human condition.
As it’s been said, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Do you ever wish the Bible was in pictures? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to watch a video of Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai, Jesus healing a blind man, or Peter addressing the crowds on the day of Pentecost? Have you ever thought it would be easier to believe in God, to trust Him, to worship Him, if we had actual footage of the stories we read in the Bible?
Apparently, God doesn’t think so. In his infinite wisdom, God gave us the Word, both spoken and written, as the means of seeing his glory. John Piper writes in When I Don’t Desire God:
“The glory of God is the ultimate reality. The glory of God is more ultimate than the Word of God. And so seeing is more ultimate than hearing. Nevertheless the glory of God does not come to us in a saving way except through the Word of God. Therefore, seeing the glory does not happen except through hearing the gospel. Word corresponds to hearing, and glory corresponds to seeing. Ultimately God has spoken in order to reveal his glory for the enjoyment of his people. Therefore we must hear what he says in order to see what he reveals. The Bible does not speak of hearing the glory of God, but seeing it. Hearing is the means. Seeing is the goal. The aim of all our hearing of God’s truth is the seeing of God’s glory.”
This means it’s a good idea to ask what I’m looking for when I read or hear God’s Word. Am I looking for rules for behavior or moral maxims? Do I still feel distant from God because I can’t “see” Him? Do I think I’ll get a greater understanding of God’s glory by looking up at the stars or hiking through the mountains?
While the heavens are telling the glory of God (Ps. 19:1), God’s Spirit wants to open our eyes to His glory through the words of Scripture, particularly as they describe and exalt the work of our great Savior. Am I grateful that God has given me spiritual eyes to see Him, that are able to discern far more than my physical eyes can appreciate?
Of course, there will come a day when God’s people will see Him face to face. We’ll look into the blazing eyes of the One Who created and redeemed us for His glory. Who can imagine what we will feel, think, and sense then? One thing’s for sure. Faith will become sight and we will see Him as He really is.
May all our hearing and reading of Scripture prepare our hearts for that moment.