John T. Willis

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Lift Up Your Face

The face [of a human being, but also of animals] is the portion of the body which most clearly reveals and expressions the feelings and attitudes of the heart. A person's face often "gives away" the "true feelings" of the heart even while that person is saying something very different from what that person really thinks or feels.

*Psalms 13:1; 27:9; 44:24; 69:17; 102:2; 143:7; Ezekiel 39:23 use the expression "to hide one's face" to communicate the idea of displeasure. God hides his face, that is, God is displeased with what a person or a nation has done.

*Jeremiah 21:10 uses the expression "to set one's face against" meaning act in a negative or hostile way toward another person or nation. God set his face against Jerusalem and the Babylonians attacked that city and destroyed it.

*Numbers 6:25; Psalms 80:3, 7, 19; 119:135 use the expression "make the face to shine on" [some person or group of people] in the sense of positive acceptance. One line in the priestly psalm in Numbers 6:25 says:
"The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you."

*Jeremiah 42:17; Luke 9:51 use the expression "to set the face to" to convey the idea of determination. Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem to the crucifixion.

*English translators of the Bible often read the literal word "face" as "presence." See Exodus 10:11. God's "face" is God's "presence." See Genesis
4:16; Exodus 33:14-15; Psalm 27:8; Matthew 18:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

Some biblical passages summon human beings to "lift up one's face." The contexts vary.

1. Yahweh commanded King Jehu of North Israel to eradicate the present kings of North Israel and Judah and their families and officials. Among other things, Jehu went to Jezreel and came to the palace of the king. Jezebel was in the upper portion of the house. 2 Kings 9:32 says that Jehu "lifted up his face to the window and said, 'Who is on my side?' Two or three responded, and Jehu told them to cast down Jezebel.

2. When Abner, commander of the North Israelite army, was in battle against Joab and his army from Judah, Asahel the nephew of David approached to fight against Abner. Abner responded: "Turn away from following me; why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?" 2 Samuel 2:22. The opposite of lifting up the face is to be in shame. Abner did not want to have to kill Asahel because then he could not face Joab honestly and nobly.

3. When Zophar was trying to encourage Job to repent and turn to God, he declared in Job 11:13-16:
"If you [Job] direct your heart rightly,
you will stretch our your hands toward him.
If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
and do not let wickedness reside in your tents.
Surely then you WILL LIFT UP YOUR FACE without blemish;
you will be secure, and will not fear.
You will forget your misery,
you will remember it as waters that have passed away."
In this context, to lift up one's face is to be cleansed, to be honest, to be accepted before God.

4. Eliphaz encourages Job to repent and turn back to god, saying in Job 22:23-26:
"If you return to the Almighty,
you will be restored,
if you remove unrighteousness from your tents,
if you treat gold like dust,
and gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent-bed,
and if the Almighty is your gold
and your precious silver,
then you will delight yourself in the Almighty,
and LIFT UP YOUR FACE to God."

A person who lifts up one's head has nothing to hide. That person has no reason to pretend he or she is doing something he or she is not doing. To lift up one's head means to be honest, not to need to hang his or her head and turn away in shame.

Be honest, repent and receive God's forgiveness, then do not be ashamed to lift up your face and confront anyone in life as you move forward attempting to love and serve our marvelous God and Creator and Friend.

Share YOUR feelings and reversals with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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