At church this morning, the pastor's sermon was about seeing God's face. The pastor addressed a variety of issues pertaining to this topic: the parts of the Bible that say that human beings cannot look on God's face and live; II Corinthians 3:8's statement that believers behold as in a glass the Lord's glory, with their faces unveiled (whereas, in Exodus 34, Moses covered up his illumined face with a veil in the presence of the Israelites); how Jesus was God's face before the world; and how the church is now God's face before the world.
topic of God's face is a little confusing to me, to tell you the truth,
perhaps because there are concepts about God's face that I need to
disentangle within my mind. Sometimes, within Christianity or the
Hebrew Bible, seeing God's face is regarded as literal: we cannot see
God's face because that would be like looking at a solar eclipse----we'd
go blind. More than that, we'd probably die were we in our human state
to look on God's face! And yet, there seems to be some hope within
Christianity (if I'm not mistaken) that believers will one day be able
to look on God's face (I John 3:2), presumably in the afterlife.
often, seeing God's face appears to be metaphorical for becoming
intimate with God, understanding God's purposes, or learning about what
God is like in terms of his character. I think of a song that Paul
Wilbur sang, Show Me Your Face, Lord,
which is about intimacy with God and God's presence helping us to make
it to the end. Or Paul's point in II Corinthians 3 that Jews who don't
believe in Christ do not fully understand the Torah, whereas believers
do. Or the notion that Jesus and the church are God's face before the
world, showing people what God is like (i.e., loving, kind, etc.). I
can see why the face came to symbolize these sorts of
things----intimacy, knowing someone----for our face is what we show to
the world, the first thing that people usually see when they look at us,
and what people look at when they speak to us.