By David Faust
Who needs Facebook when I’m already surrounded by faces? Photos in my office show me the smiling faces of my wife, children, and grandchildren. The faces of my neighbors, coworkers, and friends greet me every day. I see faces on TV, in magazines and newspapers, and on the Internet—not to mention seeing my own face in the mirror every day.
God designed the human face to demonstrate a wide range of emotions: joy, surprise, fear, anger, disgust, sadness, desire, contempt, excitement, empathy, and frustration. If the human face is so expressive, imagine what the face of God must be like!
In Psalm 80, the psalmist Asaph says, “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved” (v. 3). What makes a face “shine”? Is it delight, like a child’s face on Christmas morning? Is it beauty, like the radiance of a bride’s face on her wedding day? Is it approval, like parents smiling proudly when their son or daughter graduates from college?
Moses received a unique privilege: “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). Aaron’s priestly blessing included these words: “The lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:25, 26).
Over and over again, Psalm 80 implores God to make his face shine on us, repeating the plea in verses 3, 7, and 19. However, there’s a subtle progression in these verses—a growing crescendo of praise. Verse 3 says, “Restore us, O God.” Verse 7 adds another term to emphasize God’s power: “Restore us, God Almighty.” Then verse 19 adds the Hebrew covenant name for God, Yahweh: “Restore us, lord God Almighty.” The Lord draws close to his people when we turn our faces toward him in humble praise.
The Savior’s Face
For more than three years, the disciples saw Jesus’ face day after day. They saw the fire in his eyes when he rebuked the Pharisees, the delight when he blessed the children, the tenderness when he healed the sick. They saw him “steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, King James Version) where he faced betrayal and death. And when at last his lifeless body was wrapped in cloth, packed in spices, and sealed in a tomb, they thought they would never see his face again.
But they were wrong. Wonder-fully, gloriously wrong.
The disciples saw him alive again “on the third day” and for many days afterward. Years later, long after Christ ascended back to Heaven, John received a vision in which he saw the risen Lord in all his glory. John wrote, “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:16).
Jesus is alive. His face still shines. He is present and powerful, able to restore and to save. Meanwhile we look forward to that glorious time John described when he said, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face” (Revelation 22:3, 4).
1. What emotions stir in your heart when you think about seeing the risen Christ face to face?
2. The Bible says, “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). What does this verse mean? How does it encourage you?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of the Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of THE LOOKOUT.
1 Corinthians 6:1–11
1 Corinthians 6:12–20
Joshua 18, 19
1 Corinthians 7:1–16
Joshua 20, 21
1 Corinthians 7:17–40
Joshua 22, 23
1 Corinthians 8
1 Corinthians 9:1–12