Moses, God’s Face, and Heaven

by Joshua Tilghman on February 13, 2012

What and where is heaven? In the last post, we looked at statements made by Jesus in Luke 17:20-21 where he conveyed that heaven was a state of being inside one’s self instead of a place “out there”.

Now let’s look at another scripture from the Old Testament, and this whole concept will come alive.  In Exodus chapter thirty-three, Moses asks God to see His glory. The Lord responds by saying that no man can see His face and live. However, God doesn’t leave Moses hopeless. God places him in the cleft of a rock, covers him with His hand, and then passes by and proclaims His glory. The scripture says that although Moses didn’t see God’s face, he was able to see His back parts. Hmm…back parts? Does God even have a literal back? No, this was never meant to be taken literally. His back parts represent physical creation, the “out there” that we have been talking about. It is the part that we can all see. In other words, His “back parts” represent the physical universe that we live in. So what is meant by God’s face? His face is representative of the invisible aspect of God, which no man (flesh and ego) can see. God’s face represents the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus said was within. This is where no man can live because when we go within the Kingdom through prayer and meditation, we see ourselves as we truly are and the ego disappears. Our egos tell us we are separate from creation, but in the Kingdom the personal ego sheds away, and God and His creation merge as one.

 Have you ever actually spent time looking within yourself? Try it. It’s a strange feeling. Actually, if done right, with a little bit of persistence in meditation, one gets the strange realization-feeling that they are looking at the Face of God. I’m not talking about something prideful or arrogant here. I’m talking about something truly humbling. After this experience you come out a different person. A new level of respect develops for all of creation because you become aware that you are a conscious part of it.

So could it be that in Luke 17 Jesus is really teaching us to know ourselves?  I think so. By going within the kingdom, or withdrawing from the “out there,” we begin to understand that we are spirit beings having a physical experience. Then life becomes a playground where we aren’t afraid to use our talents instead of something to be taken so seriously that we live in fear. So what, or where, is heaven? It’s as Jesus said all along, a state of being within you! Try going there sometime. Judgment, fear, pride, and all those other nasty aspects of our egos will slowly begin to fade, and you become more like the image of Christ.

In the next and last post of this series, I explore more about the Kingdom of Heaven within. More specifically, I discuss why meditating is the practical way to enter. Find that post here.

As always, I want to hear what you think? Is the Kingdom of Heaven still a place to go to, or is it that mysterious quality about us that can only be explored through self reflection, prayer, and meditation? What does it mean to you when Jesus said, “It is within you!?”


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Engelbach February 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I think I agree – there are passages like you describe with Moses that traditional explanations don’t quite explain enough. When we first read them we think “Huh? This is weird.” Then the Sunday school teacher or bible commentary gives a traditional explanation that seems to fit 70%. so we say “OK, that’s close”, and better than just “Huh?” So we go along with it, forgetting the 30% that didn’t fit, and after awhile we assume it is an undisputed fact. And then after awhile if someone challenges the traditional interpretation, it becomes very difficult to go back and re-examine the passage with objectivity. But if we can get that far, the other side of the coin is that there is also a problem in accepting an alternate explanation just because it seems to address the 30%, so we jump on a new bandwagon too quickly.
It’s a little hard for me to imagine how I can “see God” just by looking inside myself.


Joshua Tilghman February 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm


I understand the inability to imagine seeing God by looking inside ourselves. I think the answer may lie with the concept we hold of God. What do we think God is? Is God a spiritual being that is outside of creation? It’s hard to imagine seeing God if we are looking for some type of form we understand through this life’s experiences. In order to experience God, we must go within, beyond the senses and beyond what we think we understand. Even then, I don’t think the experience of God could be properly articulated.


Robert Engelbach February 21, 2012 at 1:23 am

I can accept that God may not look like “the big guy in the sky”. When Jesus disciples asked Jesus to “show us the Father” didn’t he say “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”? I am wondering how that fits in with looking for God within?


Joshua Tilghman February 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I see your point. I think this is where many people confuse themselves and others by trying to look outside of themselves for the answer. In the scripture, the concept of Jesus and the concept of the Father are one in the same. The question then becomes: who is it then behind the concept? A better (but not perfect) question would be “what” is behind the concept? “Who” can only be understood on the human level. God is bigger than this. I wouldn’t even consider terming God a “who” with a personality. Why? Because this would limit God very much. God is infinite and resides in every nook and cranny of the universe and then even beyond what is manifested. That’s why trying to find God “outside” of ourselves will ultimately end with opinions by the hundreds. That’s why we have so many religions and denominations in the world. And division! God simply cannot be explained, but I believe God can be experienced. This experience, in turn, cannot be explained. But I believe the people that have the experience of God intuitively understand something that the one who hasn’t had a God experience does. I hope that makes sense.


Melissa Truelove February 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Life Application Study Bible: The Pharisees asked when God’s Kingdom would come, not knowing that it had already arrived. The kingdom of God is not like an earthly kingdom with geographical boundaries. Instead, it begins with the work of God’s Spirit in people’s lives and in relationships. Still today we must resist looking to institutions or programs for evidence of the progress of God’s kingdom. Instead, we should look for what God is doing in people’s hearts.

I personally believe the kingdom of God is where God lives. And ALL I know is that God lives inside my heart.


Joshua Tilghman February 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm


I like your comment about the need to resist looking to institutions or programs for evidence of God’s kingdom. I couldn’t agree more. Your last sentence also sums up this post quite nicely. Thanks for the comment.


Taj March 8, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I don’t think the Kingdom of God and Heaven are the same. The Kingdom is a place you enter and Heaven you go to as a reward. I think that although we can enter the Kingdom of God which is within us Heaven is a place where our soul will live.


Taj March 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Remember in the old testament sins were covered by sacrifices and your physical works determined your connection with God but since Jesus died it’s all about the heart (The Kingdom of God). I believe at judgement it will be based on without you entered that Kingdom or not which why he would say if he knows you or not.


Taj March 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I believe at judgement it will be based on whether or not you entered that Kingdom and manifests it which is why he would say if he knows you or not.****


james July 8, 2014 at 5:44 pm

i would just like to say ty for some of the beautiful things in the scripture you have brought out..i am surrounded by jehovah’s witnesses if you know what i mean i ave been asked to come to their kingdom hall ,but i say sorry my creator dosen’t let me go in places like that ..i have my own temple to try to keep the lamp burning.i tell them even tho we dont agree on spiritual things don’t mean we cant be a couple of months ago his mother died at 74 yrs of age..and i went to the service at the kingdom hall ..told them i prayed before i came and glad i did because i told them by coming i got confermation..while i was there they sang 2 songs and the first one was titled life without end–at last..and here is the first line to the song ..CAN YOU SEE WITH YOUR MIND’S EYE for me that was my blessing that my work on me is manifesting..peace love and light..


Joshua Tilghman July 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

James, do nice to see a non-judgmental attitude towards all men here. I completely agree. Thanks for your comment.


Ronna February 9, 2016 at 10:35 pm

I feel like I understand what Moses meant by “his back parts.” To me this is literal. This may sound silly, but last year I was having extremely vivid dreams and some of these dreams were lucid, some seemed to give me invite into the near future, nothing big, just small details. There was one night my boyfriend and I had the same dream. So, as a personal experiment, I meditated before bed and concentrated on communicating with my boyfriend while dreaming. I fell asleep across the bottom of the bed, and when I starteddreaming, I was still in the same spot. But there was someone sitting at the edge of the bed with their hands on their knees. I thought it was my boyfriend, but it wasnt. When I tried to look up at his face, it wasn’t possible. It was like everything above his shoulders was a wisp of colors and light in motion. His face, the walls, the decide in the room was all swirling together. In a voice that was like a man and a woman speaking in perfect harmony he stated, “Stop trying to talk to Alex in dreams. He has not reached ascension yet.”. I woke up a moment later and was in a state of shock for days. I guarantee you, I will never attempt to contact anyone in a dream again. God told me not to. Because of this, I think Moses literally meant Gods back, legs, etc. Because in my dream, I could see his hands and body just as anyone elses, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t see his face. The strangest part, I didn’t know until after this that no living man can look upon the face of God and live.


Joshua Tilghman February 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Ronna, I understand what you are saying, but God is spirit. His physical body is our body, and His Son is the spirit within us. We can see visions of the body because that’s how consciousness interprets. We have consciousness in a world of duality. Thanks for your comment.


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