In Your Light
Tuesday of Epiphany 4
31 January 2017
Everybody wants to have a look at God. Even Moses begs for a glimpse of the divine presence. In His mercy God refuses to grant such a thing. This request to see God as He is certainly belongs in the "Be careful what you pray for, because you might get it," category. To look upon God Himself would be like gazing directly into the noonday sun. The sun's piercing brightness would be the eyes' last sight as the darkness caused by its searing rays blotted it out. The eyes burned by the sun's glory would fall into absolute night.
Moses request to "see" God was more than a desire to see some "appearance." Moses knew better than to think He would be able to take in the full majesty of God's appearance. Moses was aware that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was not reducible to visual data. Moses wanted to see God's glory, which is far more than His appearance (Ex 33:18). He desired to see God so as to know God as He was in Himself. Such a vision God does not open to Moses, nor to us. We are creatures. He is God. We are mortal. He is eternal. We are sinful. He is holy. He keeps from us what our minds cannot take in.
Yet because He is the Light of the world, Christ our Lord illumines all by giving us what we need to know about God and His divine treasures. Just as the sun illumines the world and gives glorious light so that we can see what is around us, so the Son of God gives light to the sin-darkened world and enlightens the eyes of the blind, so that we can see what He wants to reveal to us. To look for more is to look into blindness. The Psalmist is right: "in your light we see light" (Ps 36:9). That light is Christ Himself.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"I am not ignorant how much the grandeur of the divine mystery baffles our weak understanding, so that language can scarcely express it, or reason define it, or thought even embrace it. The Apostle Paul, knowing that the most difficult task for an earthly nature is to apprehend, unaided, God's mode of action (for then our judgment would be keener to discern than God is mighty to effect), writes to his true son according to the faith, who had received the Holy Scripture from his childhood, 'As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith' (1Ti 1:3-4). He bids him abstain from wordy genealogies and fables, which minister endless questionings. The edification of God, he says, is in faith. He limits human reverence to the faithful worship of the Almighty, and does not suffer our weakness to strain itself in the attempt to see what only dazzles the eye.
"If we look at the brightness of the sun, the sight is strained and weakened: and sometimes when we scrutinize with a too curious gaze the source of the shining light, the eyes lose their natural power, and the sense of sight is even destroyed. Thus it happens that through trying to see too much we see nothing at all. What must we then expect in the case of God, the Sun of Righteousness? Will not foolishness be their reward, who would be over wise? Will not dull and brainless stupor usurp the place of the burning light of intelligence? A lower nature cannot understand the principle of a higher. Nor can heaven's mode of thought be revealed to human conception. For whatever is within the range of a limited consciousness, is itself limited.
"The divine power exceeds therefore the capacity of the human mind. If the limited strains itself to reach so far, it becomes even feebler than before. It loses what certainty it had. Instead of seeing heavenly things it is only blinded by them. No mind can fully comprehend the divine. It punishes the obstinacy of the curious by depriving them of their power. If we look at the sun, wouldn't we remove as much of his brilliance as we need, in order to see it? If not, by expecting too much, we fall short of the possible. In the same way we can only hope to understand the purposes of Heaven, so far as is permitted.
"We must expect only what He grants to our apprehension. If we attempt to go beyond the limit of His indulgence, it is withdrawn altogether. There is that in God which we can perceive. It is visible to all if we are content with the possible. Just as with the sun we can see something, if we are content to see what can be seen, but if we strain beyond the possible we lose all. So it is with the nature of God. There is that which we can understand if we are content with understanding what we can: but aim beyond your powers and you will lose even the power of attaining what was within your reach."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 10.53
Psalm 36:1-12

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise. (ESV)
Lord Christ, You are the Light of the world. Illumine our darkness that in Your light we might see light. Amen.
For the family of Ginny Deluca, who was called home by her Lord that they would grieve as children of the resurrection unto life
For the friends of George Ann Benoit, who passed into eternity, that Jesus the resurrection and the life would encourage them
For those bedeviled by slavery to alcohol, that God our Father would send them good friends and family to call them out of their misery to a life unfettered by this slavery
Art: MANETTI, Rutilio  Wedding Feast at Cana  (c. 1620)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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