The Fruit of Pursuit Part 2

I believe He calls all of us to pursue His heart. I also believe that a key to this is recognizing that engaging with His presence is the doorway to intimacy, not the outcome. On the surface that may not make a lot of sense but I will explain.

I wrote about this last year (Intimacy Opportunities Part 1 http://wisdomfromtheword.ca/intimacy-opportunities-part-1/ ). In that post I talked about how the Angel going before the Israelites into the Promised Land (Ex. 33) could be translated as the Angel of His face or the Angel of His presence. The key point was that Moses, in spite of all the time he had spent in Yahweh’s presence, didn’t really know Him and prayed for a revelation of His glory (Ex. 34), which he received. This is what resulted in Moses’ understanding of Yahweh’s character and his face glowing with Yahweh’s glory.

There is another aspect I saw recently. We partake of communion on a regular basis in most churches. I don’t know how many of us think about the fact that it is a small part of the Passover meal, a time of fellowship, intimacy and celebration of deliverance. In addition to Passover/Communion, there is another aspect of eating with Him. Jesus issued the invitation below to believers because in addition to being in us He wanted to deepen intimacy and share His heart with us. Consider Jesus invitation.

20  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

To help us respond to Jesus invitation, a call to spend time with Him and get to know Him in a deeper way, I have included a long excerpt from a Hebrew dictionary about pānîm the Hebrew word used in Exodus 33, and many other places, which refers to Yahweh’s face or presence.

The noun pānîm, “face,” “countenance,” is derived from the verbal root pānāh (HED #6680), “to turn toward,” and is found in the OT only in its plural form. The noun is well attested throughout the Semitic languages. When combined with le (HED #3937), the term may also function as a preposition, literally meaning “facing,” and often translated “before” or “in front of.”

Pānîm frequently refers to the literal face or head of a living creature. It can denote the face of an animal (Gen. 30:40; Job 41:10; Ezek. 1:10; 41:19), a heavenly being (Exo. 25:20; Isa. 6:2; Ezek. 1:8, 11) or a human being (Gen. 9:23; 43:31; 2 Sam. 19:4; 1 Ki. 19:13; Dan. 8:18; 10:9, 15).

The face of a person provides a window into his or her emotions and inner feelings. For example, Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude, or literally, “the face of Laban,” had changed toward him (Gen. 31:2), and Cain’s face became downcast because God rejected his offering (4:5). Further, a face may become flushed with terror (Isa. 13:8), turn deathly pale due to intense fear (29:22; Jer. 30:6), display tears of sorrow (Job 16:16; Isa. 25:8), show sadness (Gen. 40:7; Neh. 2:2f) or happiness (Prov. 15:13). A fallen face indicates anger or sadness, while the opposite, the raising or lifting of the face, shows joy or happiness.

To “fall upon one’s face” displayed reverence and submission (1 Sam. 5:4). God’s lifting or turning his face upon someone was a sign of blessing and favor (Num. 6:25f). But the withdrawal of such favor was expressed by the Lord’s hiding his face (Deut. 31:17) and turning his face away (Ezek. 7:22).

Pānîm also can depict more than just a face—more broadly, the “presence” of a king or God. “To see the face of a king” meant having an audience in his direct presence, but not seeing his face meant the absence of such a privilege. Seeing the “face of God” had similar connotations of entering his direct presence. To actually see God “face to face” and live (Exo. 33:20) was rare (Gen. 32:30; Deut. 34:10; Judg. 6:22). God told Moses that his “face,” or his “presence” (Exo. 33:14, NIV), would go with him, meaning that God himself would be with Moses and Israel (cf. Deut. 4:37; Isa. 63:9; Lam. 4:16). The face of God is also associated with his power as the instrument by which He did his awesome deeds.

During the wilderness wanderings, the presence of God was made specific through Israelite worship with the “bread of presence [pānîm].” A loaf of bread was always to be left upon the table of the Presence symbolizing the Lord’s continual presence within the community (Num. 4:7).

The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary

A key thing mentioned in this long explanation of the meaning of the word ‘presence’ is that the showbread from the tabernacle or temple, is literally the ‘bread of presence.’ The bread was made fresh daily. If we tie this back to Jesus invitation in Revelation 3:20 we see that Jesus is calling us to partake of His face/presence every day. While the phrase ‘give us this day our daily bread’ (Matt. 6:11) is primarily focused on material provision, what happens if we also see it at a deeper level as an invitation to daily partake of knowing Jesus? What if we sit with Him, encounter His presence, and then invite Him to share what is on His heart? Do you think we will be changed?

2 thoughts on “The Fruit of Pursuit Part 2”

  1. Wow. That is a deep thought. Thank you for this insight randy. I find I read a lot of my bible, but I want to also be more intentional to be “seeking his face” !

    1. Thanks Dan. I think we need to learn to regularly turn our hearts toward Him throughout the day but also need focused intentional times of looking to His face.

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