The Lord bless you, and keep you [protect you, sustain you, and guard you]; The Lord make His face shine upon you [with favour], And be gracious to you [surrounding you with lovingkindness]; The Lord lift up His countenance (face) upon you [with divine approval], And give you peace [a tranquil heart and life].’
We continue our series with the next part of the priestly blessing.
Of course we are discussing the old covenant blessing, but so much carries through, it’s often a foretaste of what Christ accomplished. What is interesting to note the shift of the priestly line and the tabernacle and temple as the meeting place of heaven and earth, to the new covenant and the priesthood of all believers and the restoration of the new humanity who are tasked with the bringing heaven to earth.
On that note, God is in the business of restoration as psalm 80 says:
Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved! (Psalm 80:3 NKJV)
This morning then we are talking about how God is causing his face to shine upon us, this is our sign of divine approval.
God is smiling because He loves us, the blessing of God, we spoke about previously, comes as we enter into the covenant relationship and take responsibility through the way we live through justice and righteousness.
Knowing the difference a smile can make when it comes to our relationships. A great deal of our communication come from non verbal queues, even sarcasm and humour is hard to detect via text.
A smile lights up the room, a smile lets you know it’s okay.
We can know the smile of God through relationship with Him.
I want to talk this morning about what it means to see the face of God, comparing Moses with Christ, the law and the spirit.
This blessing proclaims the favour of God, it suggests that if God smiles on you, you are in the clear.
The lord will purposely cause his face to shine, to shine literally means, it is like the breaking of the new day, He is illuminated.
He shines on us with favour.
The favour of the king, in old times, could literally mean the difference between life and death.
We read that Esther managed to save her people with such boldness, risking all by going to a king with an unknown factor, will I be accepted.
We have the assurance of salvation, we can boldly approach the throne of the king. Hebrews even calls it the throne of grace.
If it was not so, Christ says, I would have told you.
This is my first point the favour of God means we can come to him with confidence as our covenant relationship with the Lord is based on His favour towards us.
1. Confidence in the work of Christ
Hebrews 4.16 states:
Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, favour with full assurance of faith.
Faith in what Christ has done, give us the access we need to the favour of God.
You may call this privilege or the sun shining on us, but that’s what this scripture is telling us, or this is what the high priest is speaking over our lives,
So how do we know we have found favour.
What blessing is our high priest Christ speaking over our lives, have we heard his voice, and are we taking it on board, do we believe what Christ says about us?
After washing the disciples feet Christ said “You are already clean because of the words I have spoken over you.”
What about our words, can we say ‘here I stand in Christ’, is our conscience clean, do we know that God is watching over his words spoken to us and he is the one putting them into action?
How is our self talk?
What are we listening to?
What is the inner monologue we have running through our lives?
Whilst listening this morning, your own self talk, your thoughts can often be louder.
If we are constantly self critical and negative towards ourselves, that will eventually take affect.
The story of the 12 spies, that were sent out to view the Promise Land, 10 of them saw only problems negatively and they bought an evil report, however 2 of them saw the same problems opportunistically, excited to see what God would be able to do through them, to overcome the enemy.
Seeing obstacles as an opportunity.
Now we may not have those physical giants in our lives but things can be so bad that we see ourselves as insignificant in comparison. Perhaps in the eyes of others and even in our own eyes, if that’s the case, psychologically we may have already lost the battle.
So we do not let others walk all over us, because we have such low confidence, maybe because we lack faith in whom God has made us to be.
When we see ourselves as reflecting Gods glory our perspective changes.
Can we know for sure that we are made in the image and likeness of our creator that we as all humans have individual rights and responsibilities as Devine representatives and whilst we have fallen short and we do fail, God has restored us and made us his representative bringing heaven to earth .
Back to the spies in Numbers 13. “We felt like grasshoppers in their sight and this is how we saw ourselves,”
Who do we see ourselves as a reflection of, do we care so much about how others see us, that we put on a false persona, a social media smile, that no-one really knows us, ‘if they really knew me would they still love me’. So we hide ourselves dare not speak up for ourselves through fear.
This is where the perfect love casts out fear, as we have already been perfected in his sight, this is how the lord can smile upon us as he sees the real us.
I know negative self talk and our self view, perhaps is a reason to hide, through shame, the fear of failure or perhaps the evil deeds of others.
Some who have been the victim of abuse mentally or emotionally spiritually of physically, may feel that people treat you that way because you are worthless, not worthy of love, kindness and affection. Some may feel their whole life is about pleasing others or tip toeing around as not to offend anyone.
Can we start by believing that God is looking at us with favour, not because you meet up to unreasonable human standards but because the Lord himself is surrounding you with his loving kindness.
As a child every day I would pray and confess that “like Jesus I grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man” to the point where I went to school believing even though I was teased mocked and persecuted for my faith, I knew that Jesus was standing with me.
Stephen, In acts 6, described as one who full of Grace, and his face shone like an angles and then even while being stoned to death looked towards heaven in a vision of Christ and his glory, even under great torture showed who he was in Christ.
Not that we should ever tolerate abuse or oppression or that we should suffer for the sins of others but we should know that despite the inevitable suffering, Christ is manifest in us.
How does the lord show is he is with us, face to face that’s why Moses so keen to get close to the Lord.
That’s why the psalmist writes in 17
Because I have lived right, I will see your face. When I wake up, I will see your likeness and be satisfied.
And in 27
Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help.
One place it says that, no one shall see His face and live.
Yet this blessing of the priest is that the lord himself shines his face towards us and when he does we are not faced with death but we are illuminated.
2. The face of God changes everything .
Actually Paul explains this that with an Unveiled face, we can beholding his glory, and when we do, we become like him
Whilst Cain hid from the face of God, however Jacob said
“For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”
And concerning Moses the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
Moses said whilst making intercession for the people.
Now if I have found favour in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favour in your sight.
He (God) said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” Exodus 33:11,13-14,19-20
Another example of when we see God face to face is in a comparison between Moses and Christ.
When Christ was up the mountain with Peter, James and John he was Transfigured according to Matt 17 his face shone like the sun.
They knew he had met with God, the disciples heard his voice as Christ spoke with representatives of the law and prophets.
Moses’ face too shone with the glory of God after meeting on a mountain.
Paul uses this comparison to the Corinthians to show the difference between the glory of the old (Moses) and new covenant (Christ).
Through Christ we feel certain before God. We are not saying that we can do this work ourselves. It is God who makes us able to do all that we do.
In the old covenant getting face to face with God was a terrible prospect, with no assurance of salvation.
Moses hesitated, took off his shoes, used the phrase ‘if’ I have found favour.
During the time the law was given 1000’s died but during the given of the Spirit 1000’s redeemed.
Even Paul who had seen the risen Christ was temporarily blinded but went onto to proclaim the good news of the freedom we have in the new covenant agreement.
The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
The law that brought death was written in words on stone. It came with God’s glory, which made Moses’ face so bright that the Israelites could not continue to look at it. But that glory later disappeared.
So surely the new way that brings the Spirit has even more glory. If the law that judged people guilty of sin had glory, surely the new way that makes people right with God has much greater glory.
We have this hope, so we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a covering over his face so the Israelites would not see it. The glory was disappearing, and Moses did not want them to see it end.
Even today, when they read the law of Moses, there is a covering over their minds.
But when a person changes and follows the Lord, that covering is taken away. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Our faces, then, are not covered.
We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.
God once said, “Let the light shine out of the darkness!” This is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts by letting us know the glory of God that is in the face of Christ.
The face of Christ changes everything
This brings me to my final point,
3. The Grace and favour of God is here for every one of us.
We too can shine with the glory of God even though we are human,
we too can experience the favour of God on our lives, not because of our upbringing not because of anything we have done, but because God delights in us
Micah knows this
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression?
He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing mercy. He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.
Yes we are human, yes we are prone to error, suffering and even evil, yet like God formed humans in his imaged then breathed his spirit into this clay representational of himself and placed them in position of favour, walked and talked with them face to face so we too
We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us.
We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 3:4-18,4:6-18
God delights in showing mercy and grace.
Perhaps we feel like we have blown all our chances, missed out when we should have pressed forward, been under the negative influence of our thoughts, words spoken over us, we have suffered injustice, we have failed time and time again.
Seek the face of God, stop running from the calling God has placed upon you, stop hiding from the presence of the lord, as he longs to fellowship to talk with you he longs to show you kindness and grace and Allow the spirit to fill you completely
If you have been hiding it’s time to ‘fess up’ it’s time to turn from you old life and turn to God.
The Lord bless you, and keep you [protect you, sustain you, and guard you]; The Lord make His face shine upon you [with favor], And be gracious to you [surrounding you with lovingkindness]; The Lord lift up His countenance (face) upon you [with divine approval], And give you peace [a tranquil heart and life].’