Seeking His Face
D. Broughton Knox
The final word in the Bible about human fulfillment is found in Revelation 22:4, where the bliss of eternity is described in the simple phrase "They shall see God's face." That means we will be in relationship with God in a personal way; we will be in his presence, speaking with him face-to-face. This is the culmination of the human story that began in Genesis 1 in the Garden of Eden. God's purpose in creating man was that it would culminate in full fellowship in heaven when we will see God face-to-face (Rev. 21, 22).
Since this fellowship with God is the ultimate objective in God giving us life, it should be our objective. We should seek God's face now. In Psalm 27:8 we read "Seek his face," and our response is "Your face, Lord, I will seek." This command is also our greatest privilege. There is no higher honor than that we should be invited, indeed commanded, to seek the face of God; to seek his presence and fellowship while we wait for the coming of Christ, when that friendship and fellowship will be deepened and completed because we shall see him as he is. It has been God's purpose that his people should seek his face, for those who seek him will find him.
In the Old Testament, the whole people of God assembled at Sinai. There God spoke to them face-to-face; and later, at Jerusalem, the whole people of Israel used to meet at stated times to seek God's presence in his temple. For God is related to us not only individually; he is also related to us in the groupwhere two or three meet together in his name. Indeed, Christ has promised to be present on these occasions, and the word church reminds us that we stand in God's heavenly presence in a group, because it means "a group" or "gathering."
However, we are also individuals, and God also meets with us personally. For the Israelites, there was the tent of meeting outside the Israelite camp, and "everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tent of meeting" (Ex. 33:7). Those who seek him will always find him, and this encounter does not leave us as we were before. Fellowship with God through his Spirit transforms us.
You may remember how this was shown outwardly in the case of Moses. Whenever he came from communing with God, his face shown. It is through the Spirit of God that we meet with God, and this was the individual Israelite's experience. Thus the psalmist prayed, "Cast me not from your presence. Take not your Spirit from me" (Ps. 51:11).
In the new covenant, our knowledge of God has deepened, for God has revealed himself fully through Jesus, the Son of God, and the Spirit is now given to all God's people. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:6, "God has shone in our hearts to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The Christian's experience is that as we have fellowship with Jesus, his glory shines in us just as the glory of God shone in Moses as the result of speaking with God face-to-face.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul applied the Scripture about Moses to the Christian. As we look into the face of Jesus through fellowship with him, we are transformed into the glory of Christ. That is, Christ's character shines out in us. His Spirit is seen through us, and this is the glory of God.
We seek this glory in Christ, who is the glory of God. As we wait for his return, we should seek his presence through prayer. In fact, we should let no day go by without prayer. The same applies to reading God's Word. We need a regular time and a regular scheme. This is God's command: "Seek his face," and our reply should be: "Your face, Lord, I will seek"seeking him now, as well as looking to the day when he will come in the glory of his kingly rule.
We should seek him not only in our secret prayer, but also in the local congregation. If we are the leader of our family, we will take them with us to church to seek Christ's face together, because both family and church are relationships reflecting the relationship of ourselves and Christ. The relationship of the family will be reflected in the church, and the relationship in the church will be reflected back into the family.
What is your reason for going to church? Is it to seek the face of Jesus in anticipation of his return, as his coming reminds us? For if this is your motivation for churchgoing, then you will seek him firstly in your own secret prayers, then in your family and friendship groupings, as well as in the Sunday congregation. The purpose of life and its culmination is to see the face of God, to be in his presence. Has that got a grip on you? The command is clear: "Seek his face," and our reply should be equally clear: "Your face, Lord, I will seek."
The author was the principal of Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. This is an edited extract of a radio broadcast in July 1975. Reprinted with permission from The Australian Presbyterian. The author provides his own Bible translations. Reprinted from New Horizons, December 2002.