FACE to FACE COMMUNION (by permission; chp 16 from Ray Prinzings Book - Whispers of His Call)
"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads." [Revelation 22:3-4].
Having come full circle, we find that which was lost in the
third chapter of Genesis, is now completely restored as we come to the end of
the book of Revelation. It has been a long process, a long journey, but the
end thereof is secure in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is revealed as THE WAY back
to our Father, and the HIGH PROCESSION does arrive in Zion. The Psalmist saw
it by revelation, "Blessed-- happy, fortunate (to be envied)-- is the man
whose strength is in You; IN WHOSE HEART ARE THE HIGHWAYS TO ZION. -- They go
from strength to strength-- increasing in victorious power; each of them appears
before God in Zion." [Psalm 84:5,7, Amplified].
Countless thousands, through the years, have sung from the old hymn:
"Oh I want to see Him, look upon His face,
There to sing forever of His saving grace,
On the streets of glory let me lift my voice,
Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice."
Perhaps it was not always sung with full understanding of
what this would mean, yet buried deep in the heart of every man is that command
of the Lord, when He turned creation to their bruising, "Return, ye children
of men." [Psalm 90:3]. Return we must, to look upon His face, in full fellowship
restored, to have that intimate communion which alone shall satisfy the deepest
longings of our heart. "O I want to see Him, look upon His face..."
There are also those impatient ones who cannot stand the TIME PROCESSING of this RETURN, and since God remains invisible, to be worshiped "IN SPIRIT and in truth," they are prone to repeat the action of our forefathers. "When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods..." [Exodus 32:1]. So Aaron took of their gold, "and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf." Then the people "rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." [verse 6].
Multitudes of religious people, with their false concepts of God, mental images which they have formed from the creeds and traditions of men, follow this same course of action-- a little religious ceremony followed by fun, food, and fellowship, "to eat, to drink, and to play." Not fellowship with the Father, for they know Him not, nor do they walk that path of holiness by which they shall see Him. So they play their games, eat, drink, and be merry.
I dare say, there shall come an hour when the awesome presence of God shall be realized, and the first thing He will do is wipe out this PLAY. We have seen so much re-action of people to the Spirit, but very little ACTION OF THE SPIRIT. As soon as they sense God is in their midst at all, they sing and shout and dance. Nor is this all bad, we would not imply that at all, it is, however, more re-action to the Spirit, than an in working of the Spirit.
When John was in the sphere of the Spirit, "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last." [Revelation 1:17]. There was no emotional spree, there were no games to play, for beholding Him-- to see Him as He is, one can only bow low to worship at His feet. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord."
John writes, "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." [1 John 2:12]. And truly, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." [Luke 15:10]. So there is a time for exuberant rejoicing. "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong." There is a time to flex the muscle, shew forth strength, and do the exploits. "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name." [Luke 10:17]. Truly this is a marvelous working of God when the young men are able to shew forth His strength in them. But, "I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning." Here is a dimension of purity, maturity, where one enters into the solemnity of the Spirit, awesome and overwhelming, to worship our holy Creator.
The more our eyes are opened to SEE HIM, to look upon His face in that direct communion of spirit to spirit, the purer will be our worship before Him. There will be less manifestations of flesh re-action, and that beautiful flow of praise, adoration, and honour that is given unto Him.
Furthermore, I perceive that in the full outworking of the New Covenant, that God's people, being so filled with His INDWELLING PRESENCE, wherever they go they will not have to make people sin-conscious, but as they ever seek to worship God themselves, they will cause others to become more GOD-CONSCIOUS, and this working in itself will draw men and women unto Him. They will not be sent "into the world to condemn the world; but that the world THROUGH HIM might be saved." [John 3:17]. For the more we lift Him up, the more people will be drawn unto Him. The light of the glory of the Lord, as it covers the earth, will dissipate the darkness. They will not minister condemnation, but they will minister His LIFE. What we SEE IN HIM we shall freely give to others of His love, His grace, His mercy, His goodness.
Some interesting facts can be observed from the record in Genesis 3:7-8. "The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked...and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God."
Significant that the word "presence" from the Hebrew word "panim" has been translated seventy-five times as "presence," but three hundred and seventy-six times by the word "FACE." It comes from the root that means: TO TURN, thus to face. Because of the action of their own self-will, Adam and Eve could not look Him directly in the eye, nor openly commune with Him, so they hid themselves from His face. They could not FACE Him because of their disobedience. And there would be a tremendous processing before there would be A TURNING so that they could face Him again, and intimately fellowship.
Because of Israel's great disobedience to His laws, God said to Israel, "in a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment." [Isaiah 54:8]. He did not entirely withdraw all His presence from them, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." [Acts 17:28]. But there was enough hiding of His face so there was not that eye to eye contact of full identity. "Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour:" [Isaiah 45:15]. And it was necessary for God to do so, because man, in his sinful state, could not stand before His face of utter holiness. And it would take some deep processings, purgings, and manifestations of His grace, to prepare the way back into this glorious, face to face communion.
Moses said to the people, "Ye saw no manner of similitude of the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire." [Deuteronomy 4:15]. We know He was there! There were thunders and lightnings, and the whole mount quaked greatly because the presence of the Lord descended upon it. The earth itself re-acted to His presence. Just as we do when we sense Him in a new and deeper way. But they did not SEE HIM, nor any clear and definite FORM of Him on that day. There would be a long time before man was ready to look upon His face.
Adam turned away from His face, and hid himself. Israel "removed, and stood afar off." [Exodus 20:18]. And so it continued, as Jeremiah said, "For they have turned their back unto Me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us." [Jeremiah 2:27]. And so it always has been. Men willfully go their own way until they are deep into trouble, then they cry out unto the Lord, "Arise, and save me."
So God says, Jeremiah 16:17, "Mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from My face, neither is their iniquity hid from Mine eyes." God is in effect saying, "I see them even if they cannot see Me. They think they have hidden their ways from Me, but I know exactly what they are doing." Therefore, "I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity." [Jeremiah 18:17]. Back to back -- Israel turned their back to God, and God turned His back upon them-- no direct communication. But God still had not removed His presence, just turned His face so they did not have His continuous blessing-- but it was a tremendous estrangement.
What was needed was a reconciliation. God knew that if He waited for Israel to turn their face toward Him, it would be a long wait. Therefore, "God commendeth His love toward us," [Romans 5:8] first. He made all the initial movements to bring about a thorough reconciliation. There is a tremendous revelation of the heart of the Father, of His deep love for His creation, in that while we still have our back turned towards Him, His face is turned towards us-- waiting to receive us, to bless us, and to have that new communion with us. But knowing full well that we are not prepared to look upon the full light of the glory of His face, He turns us by degrees, reveals Himself to us by degrees, as we are able to bear it.
With Jeremiah we pray again, "Turn Thou us unto Thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned." [Lamentations 5:21]. Yet how little do we comprehend what love and tenderness are involved in our being turned towards Him, that we might be able to come through all the processings, until we are prepared to look full in His wonderful face. To this we have been called!
Truly, even now "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil." [Psalm 34:15-16].
Usually the thought of having His face turned towards us bespeaks of His favour, blessing, goodwill, smile. "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." [Numbers 6:24-26]. Let us all live in the realm of His blessings! Peace and prosperity. And this is well and good, but the greater question is: Do we desire only His blessing, or do we desire to see Him face to face?
So much the Psalmist reveals our own attitudes and thoughts. And while enjoying the blessing of the Lord, "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved." [Psalm 30:6]. God is being good to me, and I will serve Him forever. Things are going good for me, I shall never be moved, nor shaken in my trust in the Lord. Then the very next verse reads, "Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled." Moffatt gives, "When Thy favour was withdrawn, I fell into dismay." Now where is all this positive rejoicing? How difficult it is for man to remain steady in faith, trust, confidence, when it seems as if God has hidden His face-- there are testings instead of blessings.
Now this we know, "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." [Hebrews 4:13]. HE SEES ALL, but all do not see Him-- He is veiled from our sight. "When He hideth His face, who then can behold Him? [Job 34:29]. Yet there is tremendous mercy in this, and divine purpose. For until man is prepared, cleansed, and ready to fully see Him, it is more than we can bear. When Saul was journeying toward Damascus, and the light shone upon him, it left him blinded for a Season.
The darkness and clouds of incense in the Old Testament tabernacle sanctuary were serving a two-fold purpose, to veil the unworthiness of the priest from the holiness of God, and the full illumination of God's glory from the priest. The Psalmist said, "He made darkness His secret place, His pavilion round about Him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies." [Psalm 18:11]. Indeed, clouds and darkness must cover the brightness of the throne of God, till it shall please Him to enable us to bear the brighter beams of His glory. But the call is to full face to face communion, and thus we have these mighty in workings of God to bring us to that hour when there shall be no intervening cloud.
"He shall pray unto God, and He will be favourable unto him: and he shall see His face with joy: for He will render unto man His righteousness." [Job 33:26]. That is why we shall be able to see His face with joy! Because man shall "be made the righteousness of God in Him." [2 Corinthians 5:21]. When God renders to man-- literally, causes to turn back, unto man His own righteousness, man shall be able to once again appear before God.
E. W. Kenyon once defined righteousness as: "The ability to stand before God without any condemnation or sense of inferiority." How wonderful! When clothed with God's own righteousness there shall be an equality of righteousness which will enable a face to face communion with Him.
"As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." [Psalm 17:15]. When God bestows upon us of HIS righteousness, and takes away our own self-righteousness which is as filthy rags, then all shame and condemnation shall be forever removed.
The angel of the Lord appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush. And then God began to speak to Him out of this bush, and we read, "Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." [Exodus 3:6]. But God was working in Moses, and the time came when Moses actually prayed, "I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory." There was in him that deep desire to really begin to know his God.
We read in Deuteronomy 34:10, concerning Moses, "Whom the Lord KNEW face to face." And Exodus 33:11, "The Lord SPAKE unto Moses face to face." This indicates that there was at least a degree of direct knowledge, and direct communication, but Moses was still lacking that direct VISION, hence the prayer, "Shew me Thy glory."
God answered Moses, "Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live. --thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen." [Exodus 33:20, 23]. Thus Moses was only permitted to see the fringes of God's glory, THE AFTERGLOW, the outer edge of glory.
Indeed, the outer edge of glory came down up on the law. But, "If the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." [2 Corinthians 3:9-10].
God is truly calling a people far beyond the outer edges of His glory, beyond that glory which rested upon the first ministration of the law, unto the NEW COVENANT, wherein they shall be clothed with His righteousness, and be able to see Him FACE TO FACE.
Yet it is a true word spoken unto Moses, "No MAN shall see Me, and live." For every man that SHALL see Him will have faced the cross, being made conformable unto His death, until "I am crucified with Christ," and it is "not I, but Christ liveth in me." [Galatians 2:20].
Even now, the question could be asked, how ready are we to see Him? We read in Job 4:15-16, "Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: it stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image before mine eyes. (Margin, I heard a still voice)." There was no clear vision, it was no face to face illumination, but it was enough beyond the ordinary that he says "the hair of my flesh stood up."
Jesus came walking on the sea, and "They were troubled, saying, It is a spirit: and they cried out for fear:" [Matthew 14:26]. Having gone just a little higher, into a dimension of power where He did not need a boat, and already He was beyond them, and they knew Him not, and were afraid.
Lord, if you will come to me while I am singing, while I am shouting, while I am dancing, so I can feel Your presence just a little, I will know it is You, and I will be blessed. But if You come in any other manner, for which I am not prepared to receive You, I am afraid. For my eyes are not yet conditioned to see You in any other manifestation, or higher degree of glory. No wonder there are intense processings while we are being prepared to see the King in all His glory.
"When Thou saidest, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not Thy face far from me." [Psalm 27:8-9].
"In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward." [Jeremiah 50:4-5].
One song writer beautifully expressed the thought: "He washed mine eyes with tears, that I might see..." And the prophet saw them coming, "GOING AND WEEPING," with their faces turned toward Zion. Truly there is a HIGH PROCESSION making its way to Zion. Beginning with a first fruits, a company called out from among them, every man in his own order. But we shall see, in His time, all Israel turned again to seek the Lord-- they who once turned to Him their back, shall be turned around, and their faces will be toward Him. And they shall find that His face is indeed turned toward them!
Revelation 22:4, "THEY SHALL SEE HIS FACE." The Greek word for "face" that is used here, is "prosopon." Pros -- toward. Opon -- from, optomai: meaning, visage, or front. It is a TOWARDS VIEW, intimate, loving.
"SEE His face." There are four different Greek words that have been translated as "see," we note them.
Blepo: to perceive, understand, indicating a simple observation.
Eidon: to know, be acquainted with, and speaks of continued inspection.
Theoreo: as of one watching from a distance, a spectator.
Horao: to stare, discern, experience; (same as optomai), to gaze with eyes wide open, as at something remarkable. It is this word that is used in Revelation 22:4, "They shall see His face." An intimate experience, and it will truly be remarkable. Our eyes shall be wide open, no more veils to obscure, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall SEE GOD." [Matthew 5:8]. Very significant that this is number six of the beatitudes. Six is the number of man, and praise God, HE has so purposed to PURIFY MAN, that man shall once again be able to SEE GOD. From the time of Adam's hiding of his face in the garden, there had never been a FULL face to face communion. Only by degrees have men seen Him, known Him, talked with Him, heard His voice. But when redemption's in working is consummated, it will result in man once again in FULL communion with God. "Now we see through a glass darkly; but then FACE TO FACE " now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." [Corinthians 13:12].
Full identity-- I shall KNOW HIM, even as He knows me.
John 14:23, Williams translation. "If anyone really loves Me, he will observe My teaching, and My Father will love him, and BOTH OF US WILL COME IN FACE TO FACE FELLOWSHIP with him; yes, we will make our special dwelling place with him."
"I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one." [John 17:23]. To this we have been called!
So wondrous is this calling, more words we cannot speak,
To God alone be glory, His face we now must seek.
The way shall end in vict'ry, for He is God alone,
The calling consummating when we surround His throne.