"I will not hide my face any more from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD."
No one can hide from God. The first article of a monthly magazine from Ligonier Ministries, which I have read for years, is titled "Coram Deo," which means "before the face of God." R. C. Sproul uses that article as a constant reminder that we live our lives constantly before God's watchful eye. In Jeremiah 23:23-24 the LORD makes that point, "Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth?" If that statement is not enough to convince you, read Psalm 139:7-12.
In Genesis 16:13 (NLT), Hagar declared a new name for YHWH, "Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, "You are the God who sees me." Considering that fact always causes mixed emotions, doesn't it? Thinking of the all-powerful, ever-present and all-knowing God continually watching over me provides great comfort. Remembering Him as the One who is always my ever-present "help in time of need," my rock, fortress, shield, and stronghold, is liberating. It is like having the perfect big brother who is always ready to defend and protect. While I often think of His seeing as a comfort, remembering Him as the One to whom I must give an account, even for the seemingly insignificant things like every careless word I speak (Matthew 12:36), can be unsettling. It is like my father who seemed to know everything I did and was willing to teach me the error of my ways.
Even though we cannot escape the face of God, He chooses how He will present His face to us. Ezekiel provides a thorough description of how God shows His face to mankind. "I will turn my face from them" (Ezekiel 7:22), "I will set my face against them" (Ezekiel 15:7), "I hid my face from them" (Ezekiel 39:23), "I will enter into judgement with you face to face" (Ezekiel 20:35) and "I will not hide my face anymore from them" (Ezekiel 39:29).
In Leviticus 17:10, 20:3, 5-6, when the LORD sets His face against someone, the result is that individual being cut off from the nation of Israel. God hides His face when His anger is aroused (Deuteronomy 31:17, 32:19-20, Isaiah 54:8, 57:17). In Psalm 51:9, David asks God to hide His face from his sins. This is the only passage I found, that speaks of God judging face to face, but Acts 25:16 says the Roman custom was for the accuser and accused to meet face to face to adjudicate the conflict. Needless to say, standing face to face in judgment before God, there will be no need to attempt a settlement since He is both judge and jury.
Thinking of God not hiding His face reminds me of the prayer in Numbers 6:24-26, "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." This is my prayer for you today.