When the psalmist says ‘God’s face’ (Psalm 27:8), he refers to the presence of God. Elsewhere, the psalmist writes to ‘seek God’s face continually (Psalm 105:4). When do we gaze into someone’s face carefully? When do we seek someone’s face? It’s an act of relationship. The eyes are the windows to the soul; we can tell the mood of people through their eyes. The Lord wants us to seek His face and to spend time with Him.
Exodus 3:20 says that sinners who see God’s face cannot live. God is holy and pure, and so sinners will die in His presence. We thus need our sins to be washed away. Thus God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross on our behalf. That’s why we are able to come into God’s presence and to seek His face.
Jacob realized that he saw God’s face and named the place Peniel (Genesis 32:30-31). After seeing God’s face, Jacob’s human thoughts, greed, and wits were overcome with God’s peace and wisdom. His fear of Esau was taken away.
Moses saw the back and foot of God at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8). Having done so, his face radiated and he became a type of Jesus Christ who foreshadowed the Messiah. He was able to lead the Israelites afterwards.
At Mt. Sinai, God commanded the leaders of Israel to dine with Him. There they saw God without being struck to death.
Gideon saw the face of the angel of the Lord and became a type of saviour for his people (Judges 6:22).
Samson’s father, Manoah, met the angel of the Lord and later realized that the angel was God Himself (Judges 13:17-18, 22). As a result of encountering God, he received the son of the promise who would fulfil God’s redemptive will at the time.
Seeing God’s face is about being in God’s presence. When we do so, we witness God’s glory and enter into His spiritual presence.
Who is able to see God’s face?
The righteous will see God’s face (Psalm 17:15). Seeing God face to face is sharing the same space with Him, spending time with Him, and communing with Him. Jesus’ death on the cross tore the veil of the holy of holies in order to let us have communion with God Himself. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have His righteous covering over us. We thus become righteous when we receive the Word of righteousness. Hebrews 5 tells us that those who are mature in faith are trained in the Word of righteousness. Mature faith is able to discern good and evil through training in the Word of righteousness. It means to come into a deep relationship with God, and letting the Word permeate through every sphere of our lives.
Psalm 11:7 tells us that those who are upright will be able to see God’s face. The upright are the ones who follow God’s ways without leaning to the left or right. There is no deception, lie, or guilt in them. Uprightness is when the veil of insincerity is taken away, with nothing to hide. Every human being has sin and shame, but God has already forgiven you despite knowing how sinful you are. When we have pride and shame, we don’t want to see God. We want to avoid God when there is darkness within us. But we need to be humble before God and lift up our darkness to God.
The woman with haemorrhage came to Jesus despite her uncleanliness. Jesus came to the Samaritan woman by the well. Both went away clean and restored.
Psalm 22:24. God does not hide his face from those who are afflicted and crying out to Him. God will come to us and help us when we are humble before Him (Matthew 5:3).
What we need to do to see God’s face.
We can see God’s face after going through the process of purification. If we have an appointment to meet with an important person, how would we prepare ourselves? Before meeting God, we have to set ourselves apart from impure things. All the articles in the tabernacle and temple need to be clean and pure, and likewise for God’s people. God takes us through the journey of faith and sanctification, where our habits and ways of the world are washed out. Through the process of sanctification, we come to repent more and realize our sinfulness. Through the Word, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and are empowered to abandon our worldly ways. Instead, we begin to love what God loves and hate what God hates. God loves the work of consecration and sanctification within us.
God gives us many examples of a three-day journey of sanctification. Jesus said he needed to go on a three-day journey to the cross. Abraham walked a three-day journey to Moriah. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that they needed a three-day journey in order to worship God in the wilderness. The three-day journey represents a time to set ourselves apart for sanctification and preparation to be in God’s presence. It is a time to be set apart from evil.
We also need to wash our garments. The garments represent our deeds and behaviour. Revelation 19:8 speaks about the fine linen that is the righteous acts of the saints. Our ways of life need to be purified.
We need the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood, which will cleanse us. That is when we can come to God in faith (Hebrews 10:22; James 4:8). In the end, we cannot stand before God unless our garments are washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14; 22:14). Our minds, deeds, and acts need to be cleaned through the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood.
God required His people to undergo consecration prior to big events:
1. The Israelites needed to be circumcised before crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 3:5);
2. The priest Ahimelech asked David’s men if they were clean and had stayed away from women before giving them the consecrated bread (1 Samuel 21:4);
3. Husband and wife need to be set apart while fasting and praying (1 Corinthians 7:5). Sinful people cannot come to God without sanctification (Hebrews 12:14).
Leviticus 11:44-45 tells us that we have to be holy, for God is holy. God emphasizes that He wants us to be like Him. We must not defile ourselves with worldly things. Seeing the face of God is closely related to becoming like Him in holiness (Psalm 17:15).
The Bible also speaks about sanctification and purification taking place through fire (1 Kings 10:18; 1 Chronicles 28:18; 29:4). The refining fire burns away all the dross and unnecessary particles and leaves only gold behind. The pure metal. God wants to burn away all our spiritual dross (Proverbs 17:3; Isaiah 48:10). We see Daniel’s three friends going through the fire as well (Dan. 3:16-27). We need to go through this refining fire as well in order to purify our faith, without which we will burn to death in light of God’s holy presence (Isaiah 30:26; Revelation 21:22-24). Those who are accustomed to the sun of this world will be scorched by the light of God.
Blessings for those who see God’s face.
If seeking God’s face is so difficult, why should we do it? Can’t we just say at a distance? Peter remained at a distance between him and Jesus, and he ended up denying Jesus. When we have distance with God, our faith becomes colder.
When we see God’s face, we will receive a new name. Jacob received a new name when he saw God’s face: Israel. We also need to receive the name God has prepared for us. Those who see the face of God will possess the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6). From the knowledge of understanding the Word of God, we will find the glory of God. That glory of God is the light and the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). When we see God’s face, we will know God fully as God knows us (1 Corinthians 13:12). Seeing God face to face is understanding God directly.
When we live a life of seeking God’s face, God will allow us to prepare for the time of judgement. Noah found favor in the eyes of God because he walked with God (Genesis 6:8-9). Noah was found righteous in God’s eyes, in God’s face. As a result, God saved humanity through Noah and the ark. The ark became the place of God’s salvation. Noah was able to understand the times through living in God’s face.
Those who see God’s face will be able to live eternally in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 22:3-4). It is God’s face and glory which gives light in that world. We will be perfected by seeing God’s face and by reaching the new Jerusalem (Malachi 2:11-12; 3:2; 2 Corinthians 7:1). In today’s passage (Psalm 27:7-10), the psalmist cried out, ‘Do not hide Your face from me. Do not turn Your servant away in anger.’ God will hide His face from us when we anger Him. We can seek God’s face through prayer and worship. When we seek God and His face, we will see lovingkindness in His eyes. He will restore us in His grace. When we sincerely seek God’s face, He will let us understand His love, care, holiness, and the kingdom of heaven.
Have you seen God’s face? The History of Redemption in the Bible is carried forth by people who have seen God’s face. Let us seek for such a blessing, and may we be the ones who see God’s face.