The LORD told Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:20). Nevertheless, Yeshua taught that the “pure in heart” will see God. He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
Biblical Hebrew uses the word “heart” to refer to the mind, the core from which a human being thinks, reasons, and acts. Why does Yeshua say that the pure in heart will see God? According to the Torah’s laws of ritual purity, only the Levitically pure may enter into the holy Temple where God dwells. Levitical purity is a prerequisite to entering God’s presence. Psalm 24 brings that ritual-purity symbolism into the moral sphere:
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4)
In Psalm 24, the man with “clean hands and a pure heart” is a man of integrity. Yeshua also borrowed from the language of Torah regarding ritual purity to speak of moral purity:
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man. (Matthew 15:19-20)
The impure heart is a deceitful and devious mind which cherishes sin and meditates upon unwholesome intentions. The man with a pure heart does not harbor deceit, malice, or immorality in his mind. He will receive a pure revelation of God, as it says, “The upright will behold His face” (Psalm 11:7), and “I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake” (Psalm 17:15). Therefore, the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us to pursue “the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
This is good news for the pure in heart, but what about the rest of us? The LORD says that, in the Messianic Era, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses … I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezekiel 36:25-26). Then “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5).