Vision of God Servants’ Meeting March 22, 2009 “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Cor 12:1)
What is Vision of God? • My first impression • Can it be something seen with our eyes? • Can it be something we will achieve only after leaving the flesh? • If so, then what can we accomplish in the meantime while here on earth?
Manifestations of God Old Testament: • The Lord walked in the Garden and spoke with Adam • The Angel of the Lord blessed Hagar (Gen 16:7-13) • A Man wrestled with our father Jacob (Gen 32:24) • The Burning Bush (Exo 3) • The Lord passed by Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exo 33:18-23) • The Lord spoke with Moses from the tabernacle • Man with drawn sword appears to Jacob (Josh 5:15-13) • With the three youth in the furnace (Dan 3) • The Lord and two angels visited Abraham (Gen 18)
Manifestations of God • “You cannot see my face, for a man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) • “No one has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18) • How then did these manifestations take place? • “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18)
Outline • What is the Vision of God? • Fr. Matta’s comments • The Bridge by which we can attain this “Vision of God” • Some sayings of the Fathers
“Vision” • “Vision in the context of prayer does not belong to the bodily eye” • “Vision” here refers to “knowledge” • Not the kind of knowledge that is a list of facts • “Acquaintance with the person of God” • Perception, love, confidence and communion
Limitations • We cannot fully understand God • “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) • We can only partially perceive Him because of our limited perception caused by sin • “For we know in part and we prophesy in part... For now we see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Cor 13:9, 12) • Also, what I know about God is not according to how hard I search: St. Augustine • It is according to how much He reveals to me based on my efforts to be chaste, loving, obedient, and humble • “The holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14)
Different Approaches • Different approach between east and west • Same approach applies in our understanding of Scripture • We know as much as has been revealed to us • An evolving interpretation
Unstable Vision • Apart from holiness, our vision of God is wholly lacking • Causes an ever changing vision of God • Sometimes cruel, sometimes merciful • Sometimes confident in His love, sometimes fearful of His justice • Sometimes realize the depth of His wisdom, sometimes suspect His care or even condemn it
Faith Transcends Lack of Knowledge • Faith helps me overcome my mental darkness • Faith prepares me for the vision • For example, by faith we receive now the power of the Resurrection • “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Cor 13:12) • So, I shall understand God as He understands me
Faith Transcends Lack of Knowledge • Perfect faith is an obligation: • “…if you would believe you would see the glory of God” (John 11:40) • Perfect faith, though, practically speaking, is an impossibility • Interference of man’s senses and reason • These corrupt knowledge and blur the clarity of vision • “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” (John 11:39)
The Lord Christ is the Bridge • Indeed, to see God the Father in the fullness of His glory is to die • Not a punishment, but rather because our nature would not tolerate it • Like the brightness of the sun • Like being burned by the oven • The veil on Moses’ face • The only way then to experience the “Vision of God” is through the Lord Christ
The Lord Christ is the Bridge • “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) • “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Luke 10:22) • Indicates “appearance by vision”
St. Theophilus of Antioch But if you say, “Show me thy God,” I would reply, “Show me yourself and I will show you my God.” Show, then, that the eyes of your soul are capable of seeing, and the ears of your heart able to hear… For God is seen by those who are enabled to see Him when they have the eyes of their soul opened… So also when there is sin in man, such a man cannot behold God…
St. Theophilus of Antioch The appearance of God is ineffable and indescribable and cannot be seen by eyes of flesh… When thou shalt have put off the mortal and put on incorruption, then shalt thou see God worthily.
St. Theophilus of Antioch All things God has made out of things that were not into things that are, in order that through His works His greatness may be known and understood… For as the soul in man is not seen, being invisible to men, but is perceived through the motion of the body, so God cannot indeed be seen by human eyes, but is beheld and perceived through His providence and works.
St. Theophilus of Antioch • Echoes the words of St. Paul: • “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20)
St. Iranaeus • For the Father is the invisible of the Son, and the Son is the visible of the Father. • For man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills and when He wills, and as He wills.
St. Seraphim of Sarov If you do not know God, it is impossible for you to have love for Him. You cannot love God if you do not see Him. And the vision of God comes from the knowledge of Him.
Those Who Beheld the “Vision of God” Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. (Job 42:1-5)
Those Who Beheld the “Vision of God” • Samaritan Woman “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Conclusion • Vision of God is not accomplished with physical eyes • Attained by knowledge of Him and by experiencing Him • The Lord reveals Himself to us according to our increasing holiness • The Lord Jesus Christ is the means by which we attain the Vision of God