Hebrew Highlights 104 Face
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
GEN 17:3-4, “And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. "No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. "And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.”
When Abraham fell on his face, I assume it was in reverence and fear of God. I’m pretty sure that if God came to me in so dramatic a way, I too would fall on my face. The word for face in Hebrew is “panim”. Before looking into the root word, let’s read another passage.
PSA 13:1-5 “(For the choir director. A Psalm of David.) How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God; Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, Lest my enemy say, "I have overcome him," Lest my adversaries rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.”
It should not be surprising to us that God Himself has a face. After all, we are made in His image. Just as in English, the word “face”, in Hebrew is both a noun and a verb. “Lifnot”, means both to face, and to turn. On the one hand, it is difficult for us to face God directly in our sinful nature. Looking upon Him makes us immediately realize how dark our heart can be, compared to the light of His countenance. On the other hand, as King David so aptly pleaded in his psalm, we do not want the Lord to turn His face from us.
God is not at all ashamed to look at us, and indeed encourages us to turn towards Him, as we see in ISA 45:22, "Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. "I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. "They will say of Me, 'Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.' Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him shall be put to shame. "In the Lord all the offspring of Israel Will be justified, and will glory."
In fact, God warns us not to turn and face other Gods. LEV 19:4 says, “Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the Lord your God.” The warning is repeated in other words later in the chapter, in verse 31, “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.”
One of the Heavenly Father’s promises towards Israel promises His turning His face toward them in mercy. EZE 36:8-12, “But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be cultivated and sown. And I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. And I will multiply on you man and beast; and they will increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and will treat you better than at the first. Thus you will know that I am the Lord. 'Yes, I will cause men-- My people Israel-- to walk on you and possess you, so that you will become their inheritance and never again bereave them of children.'
Here’s an interesting look at turning our face, or at least cheek, from the New Testament. MAT 5:38, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. "But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. "And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. "And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
It makes perfect sense that the words “face” and “turn” come from the same root. After all, if we decide to turn towards either good or evil, it is usually our face which first changes direction. Perhaps this is because it embodies 4 of our five senses, sight, hearing, smell, and taste.
How do we keep from turning away from our Creator, and facing the world and its false gods? Well, for one thing, we could remember that “the best defense is a good offence, and vise versa.” See what I mean in 2TI 4:3-5, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
If we face the task God has put before us, our eyes will be on Him. Our ears will be attentive to His direction. We will smell the victory ahead. We will taste, and see, that the Lord is good.
Shalom, shalom from Jerusalem.