Lehem Panim*

I love this idea, of staring God full in the face and knowing somehow that everything happening behind His countenance, His visage, is only good. Machinations ad infinitum that are “work[ing] all things together for good” (Romans 8:28). Thoughts that “tend only to plenteousness” (Proverbs 21:5—I mean wouldn’t He be the most “diligent” person of ever?). Thoughts that He thinks “toward [us]…thoughts of peace” (Jeremiah 29:11), etc. To know that every time you look at your Heavenly Father, He’s not only returning your gaze, cheek resting on His palm (the palm that bears your name—see Isaiah 49:16), looking wistfully back into your eyes, but that to the very depth of His being is love—just for you. I love this idea.

“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father.” (John 14:9)

Jesus gently chides Philip for not realizing what was there all along. And don’t worry, just because you’re not a part of Jesus’s entourage doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same closeness and fellowship as did those who were walking around with Him while He did ministry. And yet referring to the last sentence of the first paragraph (also the first), it’s not merely an idea. God is always looking at you (see Psalm 11:7; 17:15) and He likes what He sees. I understand that He sees Jesus and His righteousness when He looks at us. But He also sees us. Get this: we have been recreated. We are, after believing on Jesus, that version of ourself we would have been had sin never happened. The “absolute superlative epitome” (I’m quoting myself) of ourselves, as it were.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

So, in case you weren’t already aware, the above references Jesus, “the high priest”. One of the things about the Old versus New Testaments is that in order for Jesus to be who He was and is (and said He was and is), He needed to fulfill the office of High Priest. There are something like 613 little rules for something something in Judaic culture, I forget. And that’s just “the Law”. So not only did He have to do everything right, He had to fulfill all those 613 things to the letter—and then die. And beyond a certain point in Mosaic Law, I’m way out of my league and depth (same thing, honestly). This was to appease the Father. When I say that God is always looking at you with love, we have no idea what it means to transgress true holiness. God could have simply wiped out the whole earth with a flood simply because sin had gotten so rampant. Wait… But seriously, without Christ, you don’t get to see firsthand the loving side of God. God is holy (it’s why He sent Jesus to live as a sinless human, to win us back) and as we are fallen, we don’t get to see the machinations behind His face. We don’t get to “come…to the throne of grace”. We get a one-way ticket to an eternal separation from God after living a mere fourscore years (or thereabouts) on an earth that’s burning up (see Psalm 90:10-11, quoting Moses “the man of God”).

Now, referring again to the passage with Philip. Apparently, as Jesus says, if we see Him, we see the Father. Okay. If you want to look at God (“Why won’t God show himself?”), then look at Jesus—this is beginning to sound like a tautology, like circular reasoning. But let’s move forward: How do we see Jesus? It’s simple. Start treating people like they were the Son of God, like they were the Prince of Peace (see Isaiah 9:6). Start looking (and smiling) at and interacting with others as if they were the One who loves you most. You can realize this for yourself. And then God will reveal Himself to you. And He’ll come in a way you least expect. That thought is already turning in His mind even now.

“When Thou saidst, Seek my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

Hebrew for “bread of the face (or presence) of God”.