Have you ever considered what it would be like for the Father to be seen? Have you ever wanted to stand before God in awe?
Christ has the answer – that he has physically manifested the glory before us in redeemed and renewed adamic flesh:
Joh 17:5-10 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (6) “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (7) Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. (8) For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. (9) I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. (10) All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
This is how we partake in that divine glory – to stand in Christ so that we are crucified, resurrected and ascended – in the throne room with Him right now – by the Spirit (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:11-15). Though this is the rejoicing through standing in Christ, there is also the flip side of the coin, for those who are already condemned and are awaiting their second death (Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21.8). This second death reality is catalysed for many throughout the Old Testament through their presence before the ark of the covenant, the entirely purified and sacred relic of the tabernacle. Who could offer anything more than what is ordained (Numbers 3:4)? Who can even touch the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-9)? Yet who can eat of the bread of presence (1 Samuel 21:6), which is placed in the Holy Place but not the Holy of Holies where the ark resides? No one has seen God (1 John 4:12), but he who does not keep on sinning has seen Him and known Him (1 John 3:6). When John wrote his first epistle, he did not aim to contradict himself; the same way that Samuel has seen Christ in the tabernacle so also David ate the bread of presence which was not considered profanity (Luke 6:3-5). For Christ, the Son, is our Bread of Life; the Spirit is the light of the lamp in the Holy Place; and the Father is behind the tabernacle curtain which only the Son and the Spirit can pass. That is the fear which should strike in our hearts – there is no way we can stand, nor partake in the Father’s glory, except by the intercession of the Anointed Christ. If Eli is not our head, then it is the true High Priest Christ who takes our headship, whom Samuel is but a type of; where Samuel’s words came to all Israel (chapter 4:1), Christ’s words are truly what Samuel have been speaking (John 17:8).
Is it thus so surprising that Dagon is amputated from its fallen glory? He is unliving and he is a wicked perversion of the image of God, uniting fish and man in one body (v.4). Indeed, though we are mindless fish (Habakkuk 1:14), we are saved from that perversion so that we are restored to the true image in Christ. Either we are led by Samuel, or we are led by Eli; either we are led by Christ, or we are Dagon in his true form – a fish without man-like arms nor head: not a man-fish; and neither are we a sick perversion of saint-sinner, but we are truly fully a saint in the eyes of the Father for we are co-heirs with the Son because we have inherited the Son’s kingdom alongside Him (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The priests of Dagon, these idolaters, do not tread over the threshold (v.5) as a mark of awe, not knowing what sort of God has struck them; and this superstitious behaviour is equally condemned of the Israelites when they have inherited their Philistinian traditions (Zephaniah 1:9). This threshold is between His glory or man-made glory; between mutual sight and knowledge before the Father in the Son by the Spirit, or blindness, death, pestilence, sickness before Dagon. The Father has ravaged (Ashdod) the Philistines at the winepress (Ekron; Isaiah 63:2) to eradicate (Ekron) those who were not part of the body of Christ.
No-one has seen God, yet those who do his will have seen Him in His Son who shares in His full glory. Yet, this light is too bright for the unbelievers to bear; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend nor overcome (using the KJV and ESV translation) it. Only the glorified High Priest can stand before the Father in the throne room: none other. Yet, he pulled us up in Him and with Him as our prayers are coveted in the midst of the Trinity (Exodus 30, where the altar of incense is in the midst of the Three Persons; Revelation 8:4). Like the deathly panic and terrible cry of the Passover night (Exodus 11:6, 12:30), those who were saved from the plague were protected in the Lamb’s blood at the door threshold, safe in the house of the LORD. Yet, those who stood outside were in the raging waters of the flood of Noah; in the open danger of the wilderness; in the condemnation of the glorious Father. We simply cannot even stand before Him; but Christ is our living righteousness external to us, yet the Spirit has bound us to His Person, so that we either remain like Dagon – a lifeless, mindless fish trying to be a god. Dagon and Eli share the same end, the former revealed for what he really is by the light revealing darkness (c.f. Galatians 3:19), by the ark next to the man-made idol; and Eli also revealed for his failed headship for not restraining his two sons, his seed. Where Dagon is left with a stump, the Hebrew does not even use that word specifically in v.4; it is more accurate to say that all that is left is Dagon itself; both his hands (v.4) and head were never part of it and thus Dagon does not deserve even a picture of perversion of the image of God for Dagon is, really, just a creature of the sea. Eli, similarly, has both his hands/arms and head amputated – his strength in both sons, as if they were his right and left arms, and his headship over Israel as judge and as High Priest eradicated for it is truly Ichabod: that the glory hasn’t left Israel, but has left the household of Eli just as the glory has left the household of Dagon (v.5) that even the priests are too scared to be in his presence lest they be also struck by the true living God. Eli is thus reduced to a mere creature, a subject of Yahweh’s punishment, revealed for what he really is in the face of the Spirit-filled Samuel.
And to the grace of the Trinity, we are like Christ so that we can embrace the Person Whom the ark represents, the Holy Unseen Father who rarely speaks directly from heaven except to give the law (Exodus 19) and to confirm that He has Sent the Seen LORD, His Son (Luke 3:22). To this end, the Spirit amputates and destroys all the idols in our hearts, so that we are presented before Him as holy and blameless when His Son gifts us His righteousness, and what is left is a renewed physical body after going through the refiner’s fire, and we can finally embrace the Father face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12).