A very popular song written and performed by the group MercyMe asks a question regarding what we as believers will do upon arriving in heaven. I'm sure you are probably familiar with the lyrics, but if not, this is the question they pose:
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
Actually, the question of what we will do when we finally stand in the presence of our God is answered in scripture. So today I thought we would look at three examples of men who were allowed the extraordinary privilege of meeting God face to face, and what their initial reaction was.
“What will my heart feel?”
Moreover He said, "I [am] the God of your father--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Exodus 3:6 NKJV
Are you afraid of God? At first, that idea seems somehow to be wrong doesn't it? Why should we be afraid of the God who created us and loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins? If we examine the meaning of the phrase “for he was afraid”, we see it means something more than a simple fear of something. In the Hebrew, this phrase is translated from the word yare', which means to be in awe of, to fear, reverence, honor and respect. In essence, we are told that when we stand in the presence of God, our reaction will be to bow our heads and look down or away as an acknowledgement of His power and authority over us as His created beings. It really comes down to respecting His position over us, and the appreciation of His omnipotence.
“Will I stand in your presence?”
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest,
Acts 9:3,4 NKJV
When I read this passage the first question that came to mind was Paul falling to his knees voluntary or involuntary? As I thought about it, since Paul had no idea what was going on before Jesus identified Himself to him, it must have been an involuntary reaction to the light that surrounded him. Have you ever physically recoiled from something that was so strong that it made you turn away? Can you imagine the intensity of light that it would take to force you to your knees? Remember the result of this encounter was Paul being blinded, and unable to see. When I was in my twenties and rebuilding my first car, I accidentally struck the metal of the frame with my arc welder before my mask was down and my face was only 12 inches or so from the arc. I was totally knocked to my knees and the result was having my eyes covered for 3 days or so because of the damage it did to them. I don't think there is any question that when we appear before our Lord, we will not stand, but fall to our knees.
“Will I be able to speak at all?”
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
Revelation 1:17 NKJV
Dead men don't talk. Now that might sound a little funny, but I think it is applicable in this case. John tells us that he fell at the feet of Jesus as a dead man. Remember this was John the Apostle. He claimed Jesus as his best friend. He sat beside him at the Last Supper. The Bible tells us he wanted to be Jesus' “favorite”. I think there was no question he knew who he was looking at, because I'm sure he recognized Jesus' voice. Yet instead of embracing Him he immediately falls to the ground and in his words, became as dead which logically probably also included being speechless. Have you ever had the opportunity to meet an old friend or family member you haven't seen in years? What was your reaction? Did you fall down to the ground like John did? Probably not, but when John was finally reunited with his friend and Savior after all those years what did he do? He said nothing, and fell to the ground as dead.
When we finally enter into the presence of God, I believe we will react exactly the same as these three men did. Having the opportunity to see for ourselves the glory of our God and Father and appear before His throne will produce the exact same situation experienced by Moses, Paul, and John. Yet I also believe this will simply be our initial reaction. The Bible tells us that we will worship, sing, dance, and rejoice in His presence. But what is the first thing we do? Prepare to bow down!