‘They Beheld God’: Have You Had This Supernatural Experience?

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Rabbi Eric Tokajer

In Exodus 24, one of the most amazing events in the entire Bible takes place. We find it as we read the narrative of Moses receiving the stone tablets on Mount Sinai. At the start of the chapter, we find G-D inviting Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, as well as the 70 elders, to come up onto the mountain. Verse 10 tells us what they saw when they made it up the mountain. 

“They saw the God of Israel, and under His feet was something like a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the very heavens” (Ex. 24:10, TLV).

Read those words again because, yes, the Bible does say that they saw the G-D of Israel. The text doesn’t tell us exactly what G-D looked like, but the Bible is clear that they saw G-D Himself. Just think about how amazing a moment that had to be for Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and all 70 of the elders.

Just the fact that these men were chosen by G-D to climb Mount Sinai so that they could see Him is a powerful experience in itself. If we read on, it gets even more powerful, and not just for the men who saw G-D that day so many years ago, but for you and me today

When we read the very next verse, it says the following:

“Yet He did not raise His hand against the nobles of Bnei-Yisrael. So they beheld God, and ate and drank” (Ex. 24:11).

Verse 11 says that when they saw G-D in verse 10, G-D didn’t raise His hand against them, which means that G-D didn’t strike them down when they saw Him. While the fact that G-D didn’t kill them for seeing Him is important, it is not the part of the story that changed the lives of the men on the mountain, nor is it the part that can change our lives today. The part that is so important and life-changing is where the Bible says, “So they beheld God.” 

Most Bibles translate the word “beheld” in this text as “saw,” so when we read the text, it seems redundant. After all, verse 10 says they saw G-D. Why would verse 11 have to say they saw G-D again? The truth is that it isn’t redundant at all. In fact, in these two verses, we find a life-changing biblical principle. If we check the Hebrew, we find that there are two very different words being used in these verses. In verse 10, we find the Hebrew word ויראו vayeru, which means “to see.” This is the word we find used in places like Genesis 1 where G-D saw something was good. It is the word used when someone looks at something and “sees it.”

However, in verse 11, where we find the English word behold, or see, it is actually a very different Hebrew word: ויחזו vayachzu, which also means to see, but with a much more spiritual meaning. This is a word that describes what happens when prophets see and carries with it the essence of supernatural revelation. Somewhere in between seeing G-D and beholding G-D, these men had a spiritual revelation. At first in verse 10, they saw G-D, they visibly viewed Him. But, by verse 11, they saw G-D, not with their eyes, but within their hearts and souls. 

We find this same type of experience in Mark 9.

“After six days, Yeshua takes with Him Peter and Jacob and John, and brings them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them. His clothes became radiant and brilliantly white, whiter than any launderer on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Yeshua. Peter responds to Yeshua, ‘Rabbi, it’s good for us to be here. Let’s make three sukkot—one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ (He didn’t know what to say, for they were terrified.)” (Mark 9:2-6).

Notice that Yeshua also takes some chosen men up a mountain and they also enter into a heavenly realm, and while there they “see” Moses and Elijah. However, after they see the cloud and hear G-D’s voice, they no longer see Moses and Elijah; now they behold Yeshua. Notice what it says in Mark 9:7-8:

“Then a cloud came, overshadowing them; and out of the cloud came a voice, ‘This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Yeshua.”

Notice that the text does not say that Moses and Elijah left or disappeared. It just says that the disciples no longer saw Moses and Elijah. Why? Because up until the disciples beheld the revelation of who Yeshua was, they saw Moses and Elijah. But, once they truly beheld Yeshua, they understood that He was the Son of G-D, and while Moses and Elijah were great men, Yeshua was more than just a great man. 

Earlier, I said that this truth was powerful and important for you and me today. That is because we were also chosen by G-D to have this type of experience, as we see when we read Ephesians 2:4:

“But God was rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us. Even when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive together with Messiah. (By grace you have been saved!) And He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua—to show in the olam ha-ba the measureless richness of His grace in kindness toward us in Messiah Yeshua” (Eph. 2:4-7).

Notice that it says because of G-D’s mercy, He raised us with Him and seated us in heavenly places with Yeshua to show us the olam ha-ba, the world to come. This is G-D’s promise to you and me today: We can also have a mountaintop experience with G-D, an experience where we transition from “seeing” Yeshua to “beholding” Yeshua. A moment in time when we see outside the earthly and are able to behold the heavenly. When Yeshua stops being someone we see only on the pages of our Bibles, He becomes The Son of G-D and the one to whom we were commanded to listen.

Eric Tokajer is the author of Overcoming Fearlessness, What If Everything You Were Taught About the Ten Commandments Was Wrong?, With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer, Jesus Is to Christianity as Pasta Is to Italians and Galatians in Context. Visit his website at rabbierict.com.

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