Monday, May 2, 2016

Seeking His Face (Part 2)

In the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures) God, who is spirit, is said to have a face. Like our faces, God's face reveals His emotions and heart. When He is pleased with His people He faces them: "For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer-- 1 Peter 3:12a.

When He isn't pleased with them, He hides His face from them: "Then they will cry out to the Lord, but He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time because they have practiced evil deeds"  Micah 3:4.

When they continue in defiance and disobedience, He turns His face against them: "But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" 1 Peter 3:12b.
"I will also set My face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given some of his offspring to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and to profane My holy name" Leviticus 20:3.

(Note that God turns His face against those who give their offspring as human sacrifices to Molech, the fire-god of the Ammonites. Of the seven things God hates, listed in Proverbs 6:16-19, one is "hands that shed innocent blood." How will we escape the judgment for sacrificing our unborn as human sacrifices--3,700 times a day!)

Exodus 33:20 says that no one can see God's face and live. The Lord spoke to Moses face to face "just as a man speaks to his friend" Exodus 33:11--and Moses lived. Apparently speaking face to face did not involve seeing God's face. It was only after he had been speaking with God face-to-face (on a regular basis?) that Moses asked God to show him His glory--and God's answer indicated that seeing His glory would involve seeing His face. He said Moses would not survive that:  "I will make My goodness pass before you and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. . .[But] you cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me, and live." 

So He put Moses in a "cleft of a rock" and protected Moses with His hand while He passed by. Moses saw only God's "back" Exodus 33:17-23. In fact, Moses carried down from the mountain the reflection of God's brilliance in "the skin of his face" to such a degree that the people were afraid to come near him Exodus 34:29-35.

(In Genesis 32:30 Jacob claimed to have seen God and survived. Did he really see God? The Bible does not say whether he did or not.) 
Is seeking the face of God the same as seeing it? To see the face of God is a death sentence, yet in five OT passages God invites us--commands us?--to seek His face: 

Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,

"If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place."  2 Chronicles 7:13-15 NASB

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” Psalm 27:8 NASB

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually. Psalm 105:4

I will go away and return to My place Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.  Hosea 5:15

How do we do that? How do we seek God's face? 

Especially how do we seek God's face if we are among the 2.5% of the world's population who suffer from prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces or hold a face in our memory, even one we have just seen or one we know well? (To be continued)

John Piper, What does it mean to "Seek the Lord?"

Kathy Thomas, Seeking His Face

Lori Ransom, Seek His Face, Not His Hand

To Seek God's Face -



  1. Let's remember that the "face" language is anthropomorphic. God is spirit. He has no literal face - except in the God-man, Jesus Christ.

  2. Thank you, Richard. I think that is my point in this series.