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.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
You've successfully created your account! For the ultimate Bible Gateway experience, consider upgrading Bible Gateway Plus to get the most out of your new account. For just a few dollars each month, a Bible Gateway Plus upgrade gives you:
• A complete digital Bible study library integrated with your Bible Gateway account, with no expensive software to install.
• Access to 40+ study & reference books including the NIV Study Bible, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, and the MacArthur Study Bible.
• An ad-free Bible Gateway experience.
• A risk-free, 30-day trial—you can cancel any time.