‘If My people will seek my face…’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2008

This is the fourth in a series of articles on 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

God spoke this verse of scripture against a backdrop of God’s present visible earthly judgment in response to his very own people’s sin. In this verse God spells out what his people must do to receive his gracious, merciful and powerful response from him.

God lays the blame for judgment at the feet of his own people. He says “My” people must humble themselves and pray. And the first thing his people are to do in praying is not to ask for relief and material and physical restoration. The first thing in praying is “to seek the face of God.”

But what is the face of God? The face of God is “Who God is.” God is saying, “Do not seek my hand for a handout but seek my face for worship.” We may seek the hand of God and receive a handout and go on our way unchanged. But we cannot truly seek the face of God and remain the same. God says, “Seek my face. I want you to realize and know who I am. I am the creator of all the heavens and the earth and all life and matter. I am God almighty. I am eternal, all knowing, ever present, all wise, righteous, and holy. I am sovereign in control over all. I am the judge of all the earth and God of wrath concerning sin. I am a jealous God about my very own people. I am God of grace and mercy and love and compassion and forgiveness. I am God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am God of the cross and the resurrection. Seek my face.”

When we seek and see God’s face, realize who he is, only then can we see who we are and we are prepared for a further and deeper experience with God.

It was only when Isaiah saw the face of God “holy and high and lifted up” that he was prepared to confess his own sins and the sinful society about him. Only then could he hear the personal call of God on his own life and answer, “Here I am, send me.”

When Peter, James and John received a veiled glimpse of the face of God on the Mount of Transfiguration they did the one thing they had never done before: “they fell facedown to the ground” (Matthew 17:4-8).

Saul, later the Apostle Paul, saw the brightness of a glimpse of the glorified risen Christ in heaven while traveling to Damascus to persecute believers. His response was to fall to the ground and enquire, “Who are you, Sir?” When he saw God in the face of Jesus Christ his only question was, “Lord, what would you have me to do?”

Certainly God is interested in what He can do for us. But he knows that what we need most is “to worship who He is” not “to get what we want.”

In God’s chastisements of his people and his judgments upon his people and in the inexplicable sufferings he allows and in the thorns in the flesh: God desires that we seek his face first and then seek his hand in his will.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus revealed he was human also, like us, when he first sought the hand of God: “Father, all things are possible with you. Take away this cup.” But then he sought the face of the Father God Almighty in the greatest of all examples of worship, on his face on the ground saying, “Not my will but your will be done. I commit to the cross.”

God’s gracious, merciful and powerful response to his people awaits us seeking his face. God says in Hosea 5:15, “I will go and return to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. In their affliction they will seek me earnestly.”

King David wrote a Psalm for God’s people to memorize and use in worship. It is found in I Chronicles 16:7-36. The very heart of it is verse 11, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

What is your response as the Lord commands us to pray, seeking his face. Can the words of Psalm 27:8 be your response? “When you said, Seek my face; my heart said unto you, your face Lord, will I seek.”

Note: Charles Christmas is a religious columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Saturday.