IF we could remember the first moments following our birth, I wonder what we would recall regarding those awaiting our arrival. Were they pleased or disappointed? How were we received into the world?
What was written on their faces?
I believe it was God’s original desire that from birth every son or daughter, all made in the image of God, would be met with a beaming face of joyful acceptance, a reception which communicates,
“Welcome, we are so glad you are here!”
In fact, He designed and wired the human body in such a way that the loving gaze between infant and mother evokes hormones which serve in the bonding of their hearts to one another. Proximity, touch, eye contact, and ready sustenance -- all communicating belonging, trust, safety and well-being.
What an incredible design.
God’s original plan and continued desire is that from our earliest moments, an approving
face-to-face would be one of the vital means of nurturing a healthy identity, having an understanding of intimacy, and acquiring a deep sense of well-being - of shalom.*
Yes, we are deeply impacted through ‘reading the face’ of those to whom our care is entrusted.
Some have always known this blessing of welcome - they have a certain settledness and sense of identity about them. They seem to be, as the Scriptures say, “rooted and grounded in love.”
Others have not.
For many of us, things in life have broken us along the way. There is an ache, a longing, for that “something” which has always been missing or has been squandered or lost - a “grounding” which is not there. There remains a deprivation in need of God’s blessing -- of life, of affirmation, of deep peace.
We never outgrow our need for this blessing.
In light of all of this, I am deeply moved by God’s expressed desire to communicate blessing to His sons and daughters by having the priest publicly “read His face” in their hearing.
Early in Scriptures, He charged His representatives - the priests - to pronounce His heart’s desire over His people in a specific way. Since blessing can only originate from God, the words were to be God’s alone, now spoken through flesh and blood, carrying a spiritual potency - transferred to the recipient :
“This is the way you are to bless... You are to say to them....”
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6: 22-27
It’s worth hearing in another version - read it slowly...
The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).
And here is the bottom line:
God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper.
The Creator of worlds and words could have crafted His prayer of blessing in so many different ways expressing different desires and facets of His vast heart and being. He could have said, “The Lord make you holy....or humble...or grateful...” Instead, He says in a sense, May you be blessed, guarded, kept, and settled in peace, as you comprehend my gracious, favorable smile toward you.
He wanted them to know how He looks at them, and what accompanies that beholding --therein lies the blessing within the blessing.
God’s desire is that you would be met with the glad gaze of the Father --whether an infant, child, youth or in old age --yes, even as you are welcomed into eternity.
But, how is this blessing to be received today? For we are not as the tribes gathered in Priest Aaron’s day. We aren’t among those huddled together, eager eyes forward, awaiting the consecrated hands, uplifted and outstretched over the people, and the voice which speaks for God - commanding favor over us.
Who will reveal the Father’s heart toward you and toward me - right here, right now?
Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, never ceases to make it possible! For, the glory of God can be read in the face of Christ as “He has explained Him.”
How can this blessing reach the depths of our soul to fill, heal, empower and restore? “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The Holy Spirit communicates that God sees you and He is delighted in all He has made. His face is uplifted, shining with His sheer goodness, pleasure and love... even in your weakness, your shame, your desire to turn away.
Love’s face is eternally dawning - His radiance up-spread upon the one beheld and beholding. It is the Countenance you have been craving your whole life - unabridged, incomprehensible. It is Love undiluted - Grace undeserving.
His face is His Presence.
We are told to “seek His face” because He wants it to been seen and read. He wants His heart behind the gracious and glorious face to be known.
The Spirit, even now, desires to impart the Father’s blessing made possible through Jesus Christ. It is our birthright. For we have been “born again” unto a rejoicing Family. In His presence there is a reception like no other; awaiting you is the beaming Face of joyful acceptance.
“Welcome, We are so glad you are here.”
In thy presence [literally; before thy face] there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures evermore.
For you have made him most blessed forever. You have rejoiced Him in the gladness of your holy face.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
You said, Seek my face, My heart says to you - Your face will I seek.
God be merciful and gracious to us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us and among us -- Selah [pause and calmly think of that]!--
Hide not Your face from me...Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]
Psalm 27: 9, 10
Restore us again, O God; and cause your face to shine in pleasure and approval on us and we shall be saved...
Psalm 80: 3, 7, 19
Many, LORD, are asking, "Who will bring us prosperity?" Let the light of your face shine on us.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
*Shalom: the word normally translated peace, means health, welfare, security, justice, and tranquility and so much more. In essence: “No good thing is withheld.”