We Saw Thee Not
A well-known hymn on a Lord’s day morning is; “we saw thee not when thou didst come, to this poor world of sin and death …”. These words are true for most of the human race down through the ages of time. The overwhelming majority of people in human history, have never seen the Son of God with their physical eyes. Initially this might concern us, until we are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus; “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29). Though our mortal eyes have never seen him, the eye of faith has seen him very clearly, and we say with Peter; “we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (Jn 6:69).
Though we haven’t seen him, we are not disadvantaged, for; “faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1, DBY). The telescope of faith lays hold upon spiritual realities that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and makes them real to us. Faith looks beyond the physical universe of space and time, and penetrates into the eternal and spiritual realm, and it is there we see the Son of God with perfect vision in all his brilliance and glory. Faith transcends the physical and temporal, faith makes the invisible visible, faith brings the distant very near. It is fitting therefore, that we sing at the end of each verse “but we believe”; for by believing we see.
We have never seen the Lord Jesus when he was a man on earth for 33 years, but we today see him by faith. In this we join a long list of other saints, and as we consider their experiences, may we see what they saw, and worship accordingly.
“I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another” (Jon 19:27).
Job, could easily have wallowed in self-pity and lived out the rest of his days downcast and in despair. However, he looked away from self to a future Redeemer that would set him free – not only from a mortal, corrupting body – but to One that would emancipate him from the bondage of sin. Job equates this Redeemer with God, implying that this Redeemer was divine. The fact that God will stand on earth, and will be seen, implies as well that God would be man – Emmanuel God with us. Zechariah also helps us here, for the One that will stand on the earth (Zech 14:4), will also reign on the earth – “the LORD shall be king over all the earth” (Zech 14:9). Job and Zechariah, saw the Redeemer ruling in this world, having defeated sin and death.
“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt … seeing him who is invisible” (Heb 11:26-27).
There was much to tantalise the vision of Moses, as he dwelt in the opulence and luxury of ancient Egypt. Being part of the Royal family, he had every reason to live for the here and now. However, one day (perhaps having been taught the promises of God by his mother) he saw the Messiah by faith. Paradoxically, he saw him who was invisible. No mortal can look upon God, but Moses saw Christ “who is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). “Image is more than likeness which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype”(Vincent). Moses and Paul both saw One who was divine, and was the visible display of deity – the Word of God. Little wonder they counted everything else as waste, and followed him.
“I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up … and said … mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Is 6:1,5).
The Lord Jesus provides a commentary on who Isaiah saw that day; “these things said Esaias, when he saw hisglory” (Jn 12:41). The context of John 12, clearly shows that the phrase “his glory”, refers to the Lord Jesus. The One who sat on the throne of the universe, and was ascribed absolute holiness and recognised as divine by the seraphim, was the Lord Jesus himself. The Jehovah of the Old Testament, is the Lord Jesus of the New Testament. The title the Lord of hosts, tells us that he is the owner and leader of the armies of heaven. Enoch also saw this One and said “behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14). We are reminded by these Old Testament saints that the Lord Jesus’s is coming again, not to suffer for sin but execute judgement and to reign in righteousness.
Job, Moses and Isaiah could sing with us “we saw thee not when thou didst come”, but they, like we have seen him by faith and understood that he is the King of glory, and worthy of all praise and worship. As we remember him this morning, may we look upon him by faith and be captivated again by the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.
Vincent's Word Studies; Colossians - https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/colossians-1.html