Skip to content

We Shall See Him and Be Like Him – Part IV

April 19, 2007

A Purifying Hope
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
I John 3:3
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Romans 6:8
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Revelation 21:3
13 Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children,
and they leave their abundance to their infants.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness, when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
Psalm 17:13-15

Psalm 17 is described simply as a prayer of David for deliverance from the wicked.  The climax of expression is found at the end of the passage in verses 13-15, where we see a contrast of what is completely and eternally satisfying and what is fleeting.  The men whom David is pleading for deliverance from are men “whose portion is in this life.”  Their portion is divinely given, as it says of the Lord in the next line, “You fill their womb with treasure.”  The Lord seems to be satisfying them in life with riches and worldly pleasures, great glory of a dynasty of children, and riches that last for generations.  We must keep in mind that this is a prayer to God, so this helps us understand that David is actually pleading that God will heap on his enemies worldly pleasures and fleeting satisfactions, not as a blessing, but as a curse.  This is not a display of piety by David in praying for the well-being of his enemy, but a prayer that God would blind his enemies to everlasting pleasure with fleeting ones.

The pleasure of David’s enemies is contrasted by David’s own future pleasure, his future hope, “As for me, I shall behold you face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (17:15).  Amidst every danger, persecution, and torment, David rests in what will be his glory.  When David is in his final resting place, referring to his resurrection, he shall look upon the face, the very likeness, of God, and be satisfied.  This is expressed in Psalm 16:11, “In your presence there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures evermore.”

A Purifying Hope
The basis for this entire study, in Part I, was found in 1 John 3:2, “But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”  There certainly is something profound about the change that occurs in the presence of Christ.  Our entire corruptible nature will be done away with and we will be as Christ is, righteous and holy.  But the very next verse has something substantial for us today, as we anticipate the coming of the Day of Lord.  “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (I John 3:3).  Here the process of what we will experience in full later is happening now through hope.  The content of that hope is surely vast and extensive (I hope to define more clearly below), but it at least in measure includes what the preceding verse teaches: that we will be like him because we shall see him in all his glory.  The statements “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” and “everyone who hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” are parallel.  The purity and holiness of Christ is the agent of change in the life of his saints. Christ is the model, the form, and the means of transformation.  So clearly from 1 John 3:3, the hope of one day seeing Christ in his complete glory, unhindered and unveiled, to adore him and enjoy him forever, is a purifying hope.  The affect of the holiness of Jesus on the believer has compelled him to put away everything the clouds his vision from his object of affection.

God Has Made His Dwelling Place With Man
In my estimation, there is no greater hope than the hope of one day living with God.  Romans 6:8 says, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”  The context is of course the topic of Part II of our study, where the cross of Christ is the factor by which we exchange our sinful desires for Christ.  We have not only been freed from the slave mastery of sin by Jesus the emancipator and now experience such an acute change in life so different that Paul compares it to a resurrection, but we also obtain the hope of living with our Savior forever.

What is so fascinating about this verse is that Paul seems to just reveal a flicker of this hope and then never mention it again in the book of Romans.  In his epistles he doesn’t really pick up the subject again but a few times (2 Cor. 13:4; I Thess. 5:10; 2 Tim. 2:11).  The contrast between being united with Christ now (Romans 6:5) and living with Christ (6:8) is so tremendous but yet it is left such a mystery in Paul’s teaching, only a remnant of words to ignite anticipation.

However, Revelation 21:1-5 explicitly reveal for us our purifying hope:

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

The Dwelling Place of God and The New Covenant
The dwelling place of God can be found through the thread of God’s redemptive plan throughout Scripture.  The word “dwelling place” can be also be translated at “tabernacle”, “The tabernacle of God is with man.  He will tabernacle with them” (Rev. 21:3).  The first reference is back to Leviticus 26:11-12, “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.  And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”  The dwelling place of God is with his people in the Land provided for by him.  God has shown his affection to his people by bringing them out of the land of Egypt to land filled with his presence and favor.  This is the covenant of God with his people.  The low point in the history of Israel is found in Ezekiel 8-10.  The leaders and elders of Israel are committing great abominations in the sanctuary of the Lord (8:5-6), worshipping created idols (8:7-13), and worshipping the sun (8:16-18).  The explicit picture Ezekiel provides for us is a two-way highway of the idolaters coming into the temple, with the glory of the Lord leaving (ch. 10).  The glory of the Lord has left and the dwelling place of God is no longer with his people.

Later in Ezekiel, however, in chapter 37, God will again someday make them his people again.  “I will make a covenant of peace with them.  It shall be an everlasting covenant with them.  And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be there God, and they shall be my people” (Ez. 37:26-27).  Jeremiah 31:31 calls this covenant the New Covenant, which is finally realized and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:16 teaches that “we are the temple of the living God, as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.’”  The New Covenant is partly realized today with the dwelling of God in Spirit in us, his temple.

The full realization of this promise is, of course, taught in Revelation 21:3, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”  The key and significant phrase that seems to separate this passage with rest of the “promise of God’s presence” passages is the phrase “and God himself will be with them as their God.”  The promise that God will be with someone is a metaphor for victory in battle, protection, or blessings and advantages (Ex. 3:12; Deut. 7:12; Romans 15:33).  God was “with” Jesus (John 3:2; Acts 10:38).  But Revelation 21:3 carries “eschatological realities” that is not present in the preceding verses.  The presence of God is no longer metaphorical or spiritual but actual and physical.  Verses 22-23 make the actuality of his presence explicit: “As I saw no temple in the city, for its is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the lamb.”

Let the Glory Of Christ Change You

The obvious truth from texts that we have looked in previous parts of the study is that the glory of Christ changes us.  That when we see him as he actually is, glorious and holy, that changes us – transforms us to his likeness, glorious and holy.  God’s demand for us in Leviticus 11:44, “You shall be holy for I am holy” becomes our nature rather than our attempt.  The transformation of the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ is described as “having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel” (Rev. 21:11).

The practice of the meditation of Christ is, in all actuality, an act of hope of future satisfaction in Christ.  As we saw in our previous section (Part III, A Granted Escape) part of our process of purifying ourselves or sanctification is faith.  Our granted escape from sin, moral corruption, and our entrance into “the eternal kingdom” is based on our obedience of faith (Heb. 3:18-19; 2 Peter 1:10-11).  Our hope in Christ for glory and holiness (Col. 1:27) is a purifying hope.  One that begins to, more and more, engage our minds, seizes our affections, and direct our obedience.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: