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Does God hide his face?

We hide our faces when something is too disgusting to look at. It’s the reaction when a child sees blood; my daughter passes the fish counter in the supermarket; or I see Shelob, the giant spider in The Lord of the Rings film. And it’s God’s reaction to sin.

In our Ladies’ Group this week we looked at times when God hides his face.

In the Old Testament, God hid his face when people turned from him and did their own thing instead of his. For example, in Ezekiel 39:23 he says, “I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions and hid my face from them”.

In Deuteronomy 31:16-18 when God explains that, he will hide his face if his people sin, he says will ‘forsake’ his people and people will respond by saying, “our God is not among us”. So it’s more than God just averting his eyes from something unpleasant, he is forsaking his people, he is taking his presence from them.

But he only forsakes them temporarily: “In overflowing anger, for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:8) and he promises, “I will not hide my face any more from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:29).

It is because Jesus, our Redeemer, took our sin on the very first Good Friday (Mt 27:47) and God forsook him so that God doesn’t have to forsake us. When God looks at me, he doesn’t see my sin, he sees Jesus. He doesn’t hide his face from his people any more, he shines on them.

And I can look him in the eye because there is no awkwardness in my relationship with him; I can be open and honest with him because I have nothing to hide, no sin to be ashamed of.

There are a whole host of delightful verses in the Bible about being face to face with our God:

Man prays to God and he accepts him, he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. Job 33:26

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face. Ps 89:15

The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. Ex 33:11

Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Ex 34:29

We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed. 2 Cor 3:18

Pursued by goodness