Here's an exhort I prepared last year. I'm interested in your (constructive) comments.
Please be gentle as much of it is just notes that are elaborated from.
“The LORD bless you and keep you: The LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
• Blessing given to Moses for priests to bless nation of Israel
• We sing it at baptisms.
• So many ideas here could explain
• Sung it and did not understand it
• 2 ideas stood out.
(1) “make his face shine upon thee”
BBE “may the light of the LORD’s face be shining on you in grace”
“shine” = to be luminous, glow
Glowing with favour, acceptance => smile
(2) “lift up his countenance upon thee”
BBE “may the Lord’s approval be resting on you”
MSG “GOD look you full in the face”
“countenance” s.w. “face”
To lift up your head and direct it towards someone in favour
1. How idea of faces is used
2. Why can’t we see God’s face
3. Hope of seeing God’s face
4. Jesus’ face
5. Implications for us
Look at theme of faces
• Idea in both Hebrew and Greek is of presence, “before the LORD”
• Our face shows our feelings:
• Smile – joy
• Red - Embarrassment
• Turn your face towards someone – accept
• Turn your face away – reject
• Fall on your face in shame and fear
• Set your face against – enemies Psalm 34 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil; Ezekiel
• Face pale from shock
• Face can be sad – Nehemiah 2:2
• As good as Facebook is with photos and updates it can’t beat meeting someone face to face.
• Apostles John and Paul wrote letters but prayed to see them face to face.
Why can’t we see God?
• God’s face shining, but we can’t see it. Why?
• Angels can
10 …in heaven their angels always tsee the face of My Father who is in heaven”
• Our sin and mortality keeps us from seeing God.
1 Timothy 6:
16 God dwells in light that no man can approach to, which no man hath seen, nor can see.
The LORD spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend (Ex 33:11)
Moses asked to see God’s glory and He proclaimed his character
Ex 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see my face; for no man shall see me and live”
You will see my back but not my face
Moses came down the skin of his face shone. Ex 34:29-35
The people were scared to come near to him.
When he had finished giving the people the commandments he covered his face with a veil.
Whenever he went to speak to the LORD he took the veil off.
This idea reinforced in OT
The temple was a smelly, noisy place.
Bleating of animals being slaughtered, smelly of burning flesh, blood everywhere.
Inside was gold.
Right inside in Most Holy place was the ark the symbol of God’s presence.
On it was faces of cherubim (Ex 25:20).
People could not go in, their sins kept them out, they needed forgiveness, something special.
• Adam and Eve
had fellowship with God
- they talked with Him
- He walked in the garden.
Gen 3:8 Adam and Eve sinned and hid from the face of God in guilt because he was there.
• God’s reaction to our sins
1-3 he turns away his face in disapproval, disappointment
• God was upset with the wickedness of the world but Noah found grace.
“Noah found grace”
We sin sometimes because we subconsciously think God doesn’t care. We can’t see His reaction.
We often would act differently if Jesus or an angel was standing next to us.
Would we do the same things, say the same things, go to the same places, refrain from doing the same things?
God was upset with the people in time of Jeremiah because their conscience was hardened their faces were hardened
they did not even blush at the sins that were being committed. Jeremiah 5
Seek God’s Face
Religion can seem like keeping a set of rules and doing some things and not others but it is about our relationship with God. We see him grieving if we turn away from him and we want His face to shine on us and accept us.
• What if we could see God?
Wouldn’t it be so powerful if we could actually see God,
if at our baptism an angel can and visited us to encourage us. Instead we have a book with many pages. We have to seek God’s face
• We want God’s favour, His face to shine on us.
• Psalmist Cry don’t hide your face from me
8 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When thou sadist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy fae, LORD, will I seek
9 Hide not thy face far from me;
• Ezra 9:
6 And said, O my God I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens
This is our hope but only possible through work of Jesus.
• Forgiveness, and reconciliation.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 Teach us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us fromevery lawless deed and purify for Himself his own special people, zealous for good works.
Hope of the future is seeing God
Matthew 5:8 blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
Hebrews 12:14-15 follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man can see the Lord.
Revelation 21:3-4 He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Revelation 22:3-4 they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads.
Psalm 17:15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Work of Jesus
Philip asked John 14:8 “Lord show us the father and it is enough for us”
Jesus answered John 14:9 “whoever has seen me has seen the Father”.
The way Jesus acted, spoke, thought were exactly what God would have done.
Let’s see Jesus’ face as he approached the crucifixion.
Luke 9:51 he set his face to go to Jerusalem – determination and focus – although he knew of the pain and the shame
Matthew 26:39 in garden – he fell on his face overcome with emotion as he struggled to do God’s will, running with sweat like drops of blood.
Strengthened by the angel - calmness of mind and resolute through trial
Matthew 26:67 after trial people hit him, spat in his face, shoved a crown of thorns on his head and the blood ran down as he struggled down the streets of Jerusalem carrying the cross.
Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
Isaiah 50:7 for the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall Inot be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed
How would we react if we were there?
Isaiah 53:2-3 no form nor comeliness that we should desire him. We hid as it were our faces from him in shame. Where is the hero, the messiah we have been waiting for? He is battered and bruised and dying a shameful criminal’s death.
17 And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedliy
But he prevailed. God raised him from death. How did he endure the pain? What kept him focused? How did he continue?
“the joy set before him”
Acts 2:25-28 he saw the Lord always before his face, he could rejoice because he knew God was right there next to him. “you will make me full of joy with your countenance” “face”
• He longed to be united with his father.
He had spoken to him every morning,
he had confessed his fears and joys.
For thirty three long years he tried so hard to please Him.
He ascended and could see his Father’s face shine on him.
• There he sits in God’s presence. This is beautiful as it has implications for us.
This quote refers back to the temple which we looked at. General population could not enter into God’s presence in the most holy place, but Christ did. Not just the temple but into heaven itself
Hebrews 9:24 Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are copies of true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence (face) of God on our behalf.
He sits there as our merciful and faithful high priest who was tempted like we are, who understands our weaknesses, can help us when we are tempted, can forgive us.
Implications for us
1 John 4:9-12, 20-21 God loved us first and we need to love God.
We can’t say we love God if we don’t love our brothers and sisters. We need to love those we can see. God will shine his face on us.
• 2 Corinthians 3:8, 18 &4 Moses had a veil on his face after coming down from the mountain because the people were scared. Symbolic of veil we put on our hearts in not allowing God’s word to penetrate.
God of this world has blinded those who refuse to accept Christ.
God who shined light in the darkness has shined into our hearts to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We need to look at Jesus, the way he lived and copy his example.
We have the treasure in clay pots, to show God’s power.
• Realize God’s face is looking down on us at all times
is it shining? Is it turned away? Trust that he is there.
• Show our love for God we can’t see by loving others
• Seek God’s forgiveness
• Transformed and reflecting Christ’s face to others
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
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