If someone was to ask you what you thought was the greatest experience in life, what would you say? There might be 100 possible answers to that question. But if we really stop and think about it, there can only really be one right answer for the Christian. That answer would be to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in person, face-to-face, and see His loving face looking at ours. The idea that that is going to happen is simply amazing and beyond words. To have the Lord and God of this world looking at us with His own face, as expressed through the Lord Jesus, is just a wonderful thought that cannot be surpassed by anything else we might imagine or dream about in life.
What is remarkable about this thought is that our whole life has been a rehearsal for that exact event from the day we were born. You see, the first loving face we ever saw was that of our mother. Mom had just gone through an agonizing labor and delivery for us so that we could enter the world. When we first saw our mothers, it was probably a little fuzzy exactly who we were looking at. That discovery and growing relationship would take some time...perhaps years until we bought her flowers and told her we loved her.
But how can we miss the fact that this first suffering face of love was getting us ready for seeing our Lord's face? Our mother's suffering for us is God's great witness to the cross. Her suffering for our birth points to our Lord's passion for us so we could experience a new birth, a new beginning for our lives in this fallen world. When we finally meet the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face by simple faith, we are often not fully aware of who our Lord is and of all that is underway. It might take years before we fully understand our Lord and what He has done for us.
Now if you go back into the Bible you find out that Adam and Eve saw the Lord face-to-face in the Garden. There were no masks or playing "hide and seek" with the Lord back then. The Lord was right there, and Adam and Eve saw Him as He was. This face-to-face connection is clearly discussed in Genesis 3:8-10 where Adam hid from the Lord's face because of his sin,
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
One of the important questions that is rarely asked about in this text is what Adam was hiding himself from in the story. Well, of course, Adam was hiding from looking at God's face. A person's face is always the thing we look away from when that relationship is damaged or alienated. That is always how it is handled; we just never make eye contact with them. Instead, we hide our face from them, allowing us to remain hidden. That is still what we do today because that is what Adam did with the Lord. The face alone always reveals the true nature of the real relationship as being one of grace, love and acceptance or law, frown and rejection.
Little did we imagine back in the Garden that our greatest pleasure and sense of relationship with the Lord would be seen in the term or idiom "face-to-face"? That facial connection would forever define humanity's relationship with the Lord for the rest of eternity. As a result, it can come as no surprise then that when sin entered the world, this face-to-face contact was broken and that its restoration would symbolize the Bible's entire goal in redemption.
This longing to restore that face-to-face contact with God would be typified in the Bible as the Lord began to show us His deep work and goal of restoration through the Patriarch Jacob. In Jacob's wrestling match with a man in the story, a man who later turned out to also be God, Jacob shared his awe of what happened to him in Genesis 32:28-30,
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face-to-face, and yet my life was spared."
This wrestling match with God led to Jacob's face-to-face encounter with the God/Man, was the greatest experience of the Lord in Jacob's life. It also became a storyline and picture of what would be the greatest desire and goal for everyone that would ever carry the name of Israel as a spiritual identity. Hence, the people of God would be characterized as being able to see God face-to-face in the Person of His Messenger of the covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament continued this face-to-face theme again during the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt. At that time, Moses was placed in a unique position as the people's mediator and was allowed to meet with the Lord face-to-face, as a way to reflect the special relationship he was given on their behalf. Moses relationship with the Lord was a prophetic precursor to the future one they themselves would experience one day, along with all of us in Christ. In Exodus 33:9-11 we hear about that special encounter,
As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face-to-face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
This entire story also connected Moses meeting with the Lord, face-to-face, with being God's personal friend. All of this was the Bible's way to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true mediator of the covenant, and the friend of God's people. Our Lord was and is our truest friend as we hear in John 15:12-15,
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
So, when the Lord Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the entire Old Testament, the most important thing our Lord did was reveal himself face-to-face to everyone. This was the one lost issue from the Old Testament that the people were designed for and longed for, namely to see the Lord again as had Adam and Eve in the Garden. Our Lord's ministry provided this long-lost privilege that was not easily seen or even understood, by even the disciples like Philip who said to our Lord in John 14:8-11,
Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
So, if we see Jesus we see God face-to-face. There is no difference. This is the greatest problem we still face today. Most people do not believe that Jesus is God or that fellowship with Him is seeing God face-to-face in a redemptive way that brings us back to the Garden and the restoration of Paradise to humanity again. As a result, our Lord's first coming and our friendship with Him face-to-face provides for life's greatest moment in this life and the world to come.
We are all currently looking forward to something good for our future. That is hope by definition. Such hope keeps us going. We all want to believe that tomorrow will be a better day! But at the heart of that future longing is not just a hope of being in heaven some day in a new and better world. The really deepest issue behind this hope is that we will get to see our Lord Jesus Christ on that future day face-to-face. That we will have the eternal privilege to look at our Lord, face-to-face, as we have looked at our friends, spouses, or children in this life. That look of wonder will be the joy of knowing we are looking into the face of God, our Creator, Lord and Redeemer. That look between the face of the creator and His redeemed creation is what we were created for and provides us with life's greatest moment and experience.
And so, as the Lord's people battle through sin, trials and even the current pandemic, we live for and long for a future "Blessed Hope" that is coming soon. That future hope is that our Lord Jesus Christ will give us the ultimate privilege of life in allowing us to see him face-to-face. That is THE goal of our Lord's coming and eventual return. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, the Apostle Paul shared that hope with these incredible words,
When our Lord Jesus comes for His people, the central thing that will be revealed is His face looking at us. That is the goal of His coming. That is the goal of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Namely, to restore that relationship of love that can only take place in the context of God and humanity seeing one another face-to-face. That thought, and that coming reality is the most glorious thought that can ever enter the human heart and mind. May our Lord allow such a thought to transform our lives in these dramatic days. May they also give us a passion and desire to cry out like the early church did in Revelation 22:20..."Come, Lord Jesus." Share this incredible thought with someone you love!For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.