The solar eclipse last August was the first to be visible across the entire contiguous United States since 1918. And this was the first solar eclipse in the age of social media, with viewers using their smartphones to capture and share the spectacle. Eclipse glasses sold out in some areas, so people created viewers from cardboard boxes.
Why the need for glasses or cardboard viewers? Because the sun is far too bright to glance at directly. In fact, experts warned that staring at the sun—even for a brief moment—could result in permanent vision loss.
This warning not to stare directly at the sun reminds me of a passage in the Old Testament. The book of Exodus records how Moses left the Israelite camp by himself and set up a tent in order to meet with the Lord. There God would speak directly to Moses “as one speaks to a friend” (33:11).
Moses and God had an intriguing conversation. Moses demands: “Now show me your glory” (v. 18). God responds: “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (v. 20).
God’s glory, the tremendous weight of His majesty, is too much for a mere mortal to observe. So when the Lord’s glory passed by, Moses was picked up and placed in the cleft of a rock, safely covered by God’s hand. “Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen” (v. 23). Moses had the amazing opportunity to view the Lord’s back, but he was not allowed to see His face.
God allows us to see glimpses of His glory in the world around us: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). And we are being transformed to reflect God’s glory through our relationship with Jesus Christ: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
One day those who have believed in Jesus as our Savior will be reunited with Him in glory. We will see God face to face, the weight of His majesty no longer too much to bear. There we will see God’s glory: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives its light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23). How glorious that will be!