I’m running at a week behind for this post since I had originally wanted to write it after last week’s Shabbat service at Baruch HaShem. The message was given by guest speaker Calev Myers who is a Messianic Jewish Lawyer in Israel and founder of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice. This post got delayed due to me preparing to meet up with some old high school friends for an evening jam session. This jam session felt pretty good and I’m happy to report that I’ve been spending a bit more time playing and writing music that could lead to some recording in the not to distant future. Unfortunately this takes time away from extra reading and writing blogs. I wish I could do both more but music tends to melt the stress away where as everything else might just increase it. I’m still working on that whole life-balance thing, has anyone ever got it down pat in the history of the world? Anyway, I digress back to the blog at hand.
Last week’s Torah portion was Ki Tissa (When you take) from Exodus 30:11-34:35. This portion of Scripture is one of my personal favorites and includes the awesome but somewhat perplexing scene of God revealing Himself to Moses and the climatic proclamation of Chapter 34, verses 5-7 where God, after revealing His backside to Moses, proclaims His name as YHVH and His awe-inspiring attributes, all worth committing to memory.
Calev’s message was timely for Elizabeth and I because during our Bible studies throughout the week on this portion we had discussed the face of God and had looked at a few different Scriptures that were related to this mystery. To begin with, Calev started his message with Exodus 33:11 which is where Elizabeth and I began to have this question about the Face of God as well.
Exodus 33:11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
This verse is pretty clear-cut right? Face to face, yeah just what it says…….I mean in our day and age you could technically speak to your friend a number of different ways with all of our forms of media and not be in the 3 dimensional, but 3,500 years ago if you wanted to “speak” to your friend “face to face” it was most definitely in literal meaning of the term. But what about this next verse?
Exodus 33:20 ” But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
Ok, so which is it? Does Moses see God “face to face” or is it that “he cannot see my face”? Here is where a very Jewish Biblical interpretation principle comes into play and might be best related as a “both/and” approach rather than an “either/or”. Moses can see the Face of God while at the same time not see the Face of God. This is also known as Divine Tension where the texts reveal the possibility for a little of this and that rather than just this or that, do you get it? As clear as mud? Ok, moving on.
Calev pointed out that in Exodus 33:14-15 where we have the word “presence” translated in Hebrew that word could also be translated “face” which would fit the overall context of the scene quite well. He also pointed out that He personally believes within the Godhead that there are many Faces of God with Yeshua being the most accurate and complete Face of God revealed to mankind throughout history. At this point I thought, that boy is pretty good, I think he’s on to something. A verse that Calev didn’t bring up but that I thought about with this discussion was the following:
Exodus 24:9-11 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
So was this a pre-incarnate Yeshua? The Face of the Godhead that is seen and beheld in the image of man? A Face fully comprehensible as God while at the same time only a part of the Godhead which in its totality is fully incomprehensible to man?
Another interesting aspect about the Face’s of God and there differences is the light that was emanating from Moses after encountering God and an aspect of His glory. This had to be some kind of supernatural light shining forth from Moses after his encounter with God to make everyone afraid to come near him. Compare this to the comeliness of Yeshua who the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell in bodily form. Yet this glory manifested itself very differently in the face of Yeshua. In Yeshua this glory was both revealed and concealed. Concealed undoubtably for the benefit of all.
Exodus 34:29-30 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.  30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
Isaiah 53:2-3 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected  by men; a man of sorrows,  and acquainted with  grief;  and as one from whom men hide their faces  he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Originally I was going to write just one post but due to the length and a few other angles to cover I will break it up into Parts 1 and 2. Part II hopefully coming real soon!
May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!