The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” Numbers 6:24-25.
The Bible is all about His presence
The Bible speaks of God's presence in human history. God wants to be present with us so we can have a rich personal encounter with Him. God’s presence in the Bible is described in multiple ways such as:
and, some 200 other concrete ways!
So, you could say the Bible is all about the presence of God with His people.
When Jesus was born, the angels announced to the shepherds – God’s coming presence prefaced with the words “Fear not” (Luke 2: 10). This is because God knows that the fundamental emotion in human beings is fear. And it is God’s desire to alter our basic constitution from one of fear to peace and fullness of joy.
Jesus came into the world 2,000 years ago and “made his dwelling among us…” (John 1: 14). Jesus before he died and ascended to heaven promised to send us the Holy Spirit who Jesus said will “guide you into all truth” (John 16: 13).
God's presence cancels out fear and provides comfort in times of trouble or anxiety:
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” Joshua 1: 5.
In fact, without His presence we cannot live or flourish:
“Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed…” (Deut. 37: 17).
People with needs are met graciously by God
We all carry wounds with us from our earliest memories. A woman said in a sharing session: “My mother abandoned me at a young age and as I grew up, I struggled in entrusting myself to people… To compensate for this problem of belonging, I joined a strict pietist convent”.
We try to heal our past wounds by compensating for our perceived losses. Moses asked God an unusual and bold request. He wanted to see God’s face. It may have been because Moses did not remember seeing his mother’s face – he was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. To compensate for this loss, he asks to see the face of God. And how lovingly God meets Moses at his point of need by saying:
“I will cause all My goodness to pass before you…and I will proclaim My name – the LORD – in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” Exodus 33:19-20.
You can experience His presence
Those who believe in Jesus can see the face of God as they read the Bible:
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” 2 Cor 4: 6.
To experience God's presence is like seeing a smile on God’s face, according to the great preacher, Spurgeon:
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” Ps. 67:1.
Soon, God's presence will not just be spiritual – it will be the ultimate blessing for all believers who will see Him face-to-face:
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” 1 John 3: 2.
The anticipation of Christ’s soon coming, and His tangible presence is a great impetus for all Christians to be engaged in faithful service to others now:
“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?” 1 Thess. 2: 19.
And if you are carrying wounds from the past – come to Jesus and let him tailor-make His presence for you according to your need just as He did for Moses.
Jesus invites us:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28.
Jonathan D James