Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Shining Face pt. 2

"The Lord Make His Face Shine Upon You"

One of the most repeated Scriptures about the "face of God" is from the Aaronic Benediction. In this blessing, the one giving the blessing prays that God would make "His face" to shine upon those receiving the blessing.

This phrase, "the Lord make His face to shine upon you," is an interesting Hebraic concept. It means to turn, to turn towards you, to turn around, to turn back, to pay attention again. But why God's face and not another part of His anatomy?

Let's take a look at the biblical uses of this image, the FACE. One's "face" identifies who a person is. When you see a face, you know exactly who it is. Sometimes you can tell who a person is by the back of their head, their hairline, the kind of clothes they wear or how they walk and so on. But you only truly know who someone is when they turn around and look at you. Otherwise you could make a mistake. Sometimes identical twins are a little tough to identify, even if you can see their faces. But even at those times, a careful study of their faces will tell you who it is, because it reflects what's inside. It reflects the person, it identifies the person.

Our face has something to do with who we are when it comes to our countenance. It reveals our emotions, our moods, our dispositions and a reflection of what is going on in inside of us. Proverbs says, "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance" (15:13). Also, "Cain was very angry and his countenance fell" (Gen. 38:15). When you have a hard face, your kids and spouses will tell you, right? "You've got that face. Don't look at me like that. Don't stare at me like that," they will tell you.

So from our face, one can tell a lot about what is going on inside. A person's face can be shining when they are happy, or they can be shamefaced when they have done wrong. One can have an evil or flaming face, an angry face. Or, one can have a sweet face, revealing inner innocence and lack of guile. In Scripture, "lifting up one's face" (Job 11:15) indicates that one has nothing to hide and there is no shame nor guile in him.

On the other hand, the Bible also talks about "hiding one's face," which means to turn away from someone, either in shame (on the part of the sinner) or disgust (on the part of God who cannot be in the presence of sin). The psalmist, realizing his sin has alienated God, says, "Hide not Your face far from me: put not Your servant away in anger..."(Ps. 27:9). Meanwhile, feeling the pain of his oppressor, the psalmist pleads with God to intervene, when he says, "How long will You forget me O Lord? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?" (Ps. 13:1).

Then, in Psalms 10:11, it speaks of the wicked man who oppresses the poor and stupidly thinks that God is not watching him: "He has said in his heart, 'God has forgotten: He hides His face; He will never see it.'" To harden the face is to promise no appeal (Prov. 21:29). Determination was evident when Yeshua (Jesus) "set his face" to go to Jerusalem (Lk. 9:51). Calamity is assured when the face of God was set against a people (Jer. 44:11).


No comments:

Post a Comment