Truth, Understanding, Insight

To Seek God's Face

21st November 2011, hej


1) Seek the Lord and his strength

It is not enough to be a spiritual person. It is not enough to be a knowledgeable person. There is a point where faith-in-action must become a way of life. King David wrote a psalm to help his people seek God. He wrote it to thank God.

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders,
and the judgments of his mouth; (1Chron 16:7-12)

It is recorded twice, as it is also in the volume of the psalms,

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. (Psalm 105:2-4)

If we can't see God, how do we seek his face? What does it mean? The psalm itself provides a point, asking the people to sing to God and talk of him. Also they were to remember his works and what he said. But this is only half of it.

Imagine a person who does nothing but remember God's law, who sings and talks of God all day long, without stop. Some might regard them as 'holy.' But are they? How do they feed themselves or those of their house? When Oded came to Asa he said to all the people,

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. (2Ch 15:7)

There is no support in the scriptures for those who do not work,

“For we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2Thes. 3:10)

So we could imagine as an ideal a person who might farm the land, or labour in some capacity who sings psalms while they work, and when they pause in their work they remember the works and laws of God. When they meet others they speak of God's wondrous works.

Though we may sing, we might ponder what percentage of our songs are the words of scripture. There might be songs also about scriptural topics, but the songs David was talking of were scripture. What percentage of a day is spent reading and pondering the words of scripture? There may be other books on scripture, but they are no replacement for scripture itself. What percentage of time do we speak of the works of God to others? In pondering this we might see how far our society has drifted towards nearly total and willing ignorance of the Bible itself.

Yet even beyond a high percentage of scriptural focus in reading and singing and praise, there is something else required. Merely singing, thinking about and speaking of God is not seeking the strength and face of God.

Israel was asked to Glory in God's holy name. To do this we have to know what that name is and what it means. You may wish to read about the Name Yahweh Elohim or He Who Will Become Mighty Ones. In summary the name speaks of the purpose to be merciful, in long suffering projecting goodness and truth, and therefore actively extending mercy, yet condemning iniquity (Exodus 34:6-7). By showing this and people following God's example, he would fill the earth with His Glory which is his mercy, goodness and truth (Numbers 14:21). People are to live just and true lives and so bless God, and in turn be blessed by God.

We have to actively glory in, or feel uplifted by, this mercy, goodness and truth. We have to show we value truth, and rejoice when we see mercy, goodness and truth outworking in our lives. Not just a one way relationship, but in all directions. It is to be first between God and us, and between us those other servants of God, and between those fellow servants and God. But this cannot be merely an attitude, more is required to seek his strength and seek his face.

For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba:.. Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, Seek him that makes the seven stars and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night: that calls for the waters of the sea, and pour them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: (Amos 5:4-8)

The God of Israel named Yahweh, 'He who will become' makes the seven stars (planets seen with the naked eye), makes death become a new morning or resurrection, and brings rain. He is jealous, not allowing any to take his glory (Exodus 20:5, 34:14).

If we might imagine we can see our ideal farmer, or labourer at night singing psalms about the stars-planets he uses to mark the seasons, and rejoicing as he goes to work at the new morning from darkness and thanking God for the lifegiving rain. All of them are wondrous works. In them are the very issues of life itself. Amos says that seeking Yahweh's face is life.

And we have to do it continuously. Why? Because life itself is not a given, from day to day and from moment to moment.

There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:12-15)

Day to day,

Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. (Job 10:12)
If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. (Job 34:14-15)
Thou hide thy face, they are troubled: thou take away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. (Psa 104:29)

Hezekiah knew his life was daily in the hand of his God. When sick he prayed,

O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. (Isaiah 38:16)

But merely knowing this, and acknowledging it day to day though worthy, does not mean we are seeking God's strength and face. Even more is required.

We might know and understand intellectually all things, yet, our heart not be right,

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? (Ezekiel 14:3)

We might have a soft heart and all the right attitudes, yet not be blessed as we didn't seek right and true knowledge,

Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. (Daniel 10:12)

This is a marvel. Most people are happy to ask God for many things, as if he might hand them out to them as a good child. People ask for all things they might think of as 'good.' To seek Yahweh's face is to both set out heart to understand and to modify our lives as a result of that understanding and as Daniel did pray for help. Let us ponder some examples.

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