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.
His face cannot be seenEx 33:20-23“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 faceGe 32:30After 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. See alsoEx 33:11; Nu 12:8; Dt 5:4; Dt 34:10; Eze 20:35
The angels in heaven look upon the face of GodMt 18:10
God must reveal himself if people are to see his faceJob 34:29 The Greek word for “revelation” literally means “removing a veil from one’s face”.
Appearing before God in worshipEx 23:15The 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. See alsoEx 23:17; Ex 34:20; Dt 16:16; Dt 31:11; Ps 42:2; Isa 1:12
Dictionary of Bible Themes Scripture index copyright Martin H. Manser, 2009. As Editor, Martin Manser wishes to thank all those who compiled or edited the NIV Thematic Study Bible, on which this work is based.
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