They Beheld God, and Ate and Drank

“…and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness…They beheld God, and ate and drank.” – Exodus 24:10-11

Wow. What an amazing passage of Scripture. There is such an earthiness to this that is so intriguing. When the elders of Israel saw God and beheld Him, their response was to eat and drink. Something so…human…and seemingly mundane—a meal—in the actual presence of God.

I think for so long I’ve only ever expected to encounter the glory of God in such supernatural ways: visions, dreams, miracles. But here, our most base human instincts and cravings are brought into our experience of communion with God, and they are welcomed, not shunned. They are a means of celebration.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers a brilliant insight from the creation account: “This blessing—be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it—affirms man totally in the world of the living in which he is placed. It is his total empirical existence that is blessed here, his creatureliness, his worldliness, and his earthliness.”

This gives me hope that perhaps even now, as I sit in my office typing this, I can encounter Him as I am. I can behold God and read a book. I can behold God and mow my grass. I can behold God and fold my laundry. My humanness doesn’t need to be set aside and hated, but can be integrated into my experience of God.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t have to stop being me in order to behold God. God loves human nature. He declared it “very good” long ago, He assumed it 2000 years ago, and He indwells it now. The “image of the invisible God” was and is a living, breathing human being. He’s not ashamed of our humanness, He loves it. He’s not ashamed of me, He loves me. He’s not ashamed of you, He loves you. And He wants me, you, and all of us, to flourish in our humanity, to express it to the fullest, even in the very midst of His presence.

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