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Faithlife

Face of God

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A term used to refer to the character of God, especially his favour towards his people. For God to turn his face to his people is to offer them his grace and help; for God to turn his face against his people is to withhold his favour and blessing. To seek the face of God is to seek his favour.

Notes & Transcripts

The face of God as a sign of blessing

Numbers 6:25–26 ESV
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
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Parts of God’s face

His ears

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His eyes

Psalm 34:15 ESV
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
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His hair

Daniel 7:9 ESV
9 “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.

His lips

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His mouth

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His nostrils

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The visibility of God’s face

His face cannot be seen

“The face of God” may mean here God’s real and true self, the inference being that no-one can look on God as he is in his total purity and majesty.

Apparent exceptions where God is seen face to face

After Jacob’s wrestling with a figure whose exact identity is not explicit in the preceding verses. Jacob did experience a real encounter with God but God was in a real and approachable form, not in his transcendent and visible glory.
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The angels in heaven look upon the face of God

Matthew 18:10 ESV
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

God must reveal himself if people are to see his face

The Greek word for “revelation” literally means “removing a veil from one’s face”.

The righteous will see God’s face in the life to come

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When God hides his face blessing is withheld

Complaints at God hiding his face

Psalm 44:24 ESV
24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
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Cries for help

Psalm 27:9 ESV
9 Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
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Statements concerning God’s anger and judgment

Isaiah 54:8 ESV
8 In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.
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Other phrases synonymous with God hiding his face

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God sets his face against sinners

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God’s face as a symbol of his favour

Seeking the face of God in prayer

2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
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Seeking the favour of God

Exodus 32:11 ESV
11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
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Appearing before God in worship

The phrase seems to recall the fact that in ancient religions worshippers came before carved faces of their idols. In Israel such physical representations of God were forbidden but the phrase was still used underlining the belief that Israel’s God was present in his sanctuary.
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The shining of God’s face upon his people indicates his blessing

Numbers 6:25–26 ESV
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
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God’s face accompanies Israel as a symbol of his presence

Literally “my face will go ...” Here this phrase may allude not only to God’s presence but also to the manifestations of his presence (e.g., the cloud in verse 9).
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