Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: face to face

Getting face time with God

I rarely get into long conversations via phone.  Since I live many states away from most of my family, I’m sure this drives them nuts.  Part of my hang up with phone conversations is how only hearing someone’s voice hinders our ability to communicate.  It can be hard to focus on the person we’re speaking with when they are not physically in front of us.  We lose out on seeing facial expressions and body language – both of which are significant contributors to how we communicate with each other.  It’s just not the same as face to face.

Prayer can sometimes feel similar, like an incomplete discussion or like we are have a one-way, long-distance conversation.  How much better would it be to sit on the couch and talk with Jesus than to sit on the couch and pray to Jesus?

In John’s final descriptions of the New Jerusalem, he tells us that

Revelation 22:3-5
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will worship Him.  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.

There are some special privileges listed here for those servants.  The first one to note is in verse 4 – They will see his face.

There were many key people that God partnered with in the ages, many who shared a close friendship with God and did great things for him.  One of God’s most intimate friendships was with a man named Moses.  God and Moses met together on numerous occasions, and God’s presence was constantly manifested with the nation of Israel during Moses’ leadership.  If you were looking to identify which individual in history has had the most direct interaction with God, it would be very difficult to argue against Moses being that guy.

On one occasion, Moses reverently asked God “Please, let me see Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18).  Check out God’s response:

Exodus 33:19-23
He said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you…” But He added, “You cannot see My face, for humans cannot see Me and live…you will see My back, but My face will not be seen.”

Although he was thisclose with God, Moses was unable to see God’s face.

Many years later, Paul – who had his own direct encounter with the glorified, risen Christ – wrote this to the believers in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.

How different is it talking to someone on speakerphone verses calling them on Skype?  How much more intimate is it to speak with someone face to face, rather than talking with them from separate rooms?  Seeing God’s face is a new level of intimacy with God that will be available in the New Jerusalem. 

And that is something to look forward to.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Heaven on Earth

Some days I just get tired of people.  Or at least that’s what I say to describe how worn down I feel.  But in all honesty, it’s not so much that individual people that are wearing me down…it’s the clash of their self-tainted agendas with my own self-tainted agenda that leaves me feeling like the ocean has been pounding on the shore of my psyche.

How great would it be if we could just remove everyone’s sin nature from life’s equation?

We get an idea of what it will be like as John moves from describing the exterior of New Jerusalem to what he sees (and does not see) inside the city:

Revelation 21:22-23
I did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

The fact that there was no temple in New Jerusalem is a significant change.  The temple was the central location for the people to meet with and relate to God.  God’s presence resided in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the temple – and it was there that once a year the High Priest would meet with God on behalf of the people.

However, in New Jerusalem God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them (Revelation 21:3).  Access to God is no longer limited to a representative once per year…His presence will be so constant that His glory will negate the need for a sun in the sky!

The Holy of Holies was built in a cube form, both in the tabernacle (Exodus 26) and Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:20).  The cube shape of New Jerusalem also affirms that we have permanently entered into the most intimate of relationships with God – so close that a meeting place isn’t necessary because the entire city is the meeting place.

Revelation 21:24-27
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.  Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there.  They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.  Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.

And so the ancient practice of honoring the greatest king by bringing him wealth from your nation will continue in New Jerusalem (e.g. – 1 Kings 10:10, Psalm 72:10-11).  These gifts to honor God will be brought by only those [whose names are] written in the Lamb’s book of life, ones who had previously accepted Christ’s offer of eternal life.

How magnificent will this city be?!?!  No corruption, no lies, no selfishness, no greed, no lust… nothing unclean will ever enter it.  How incredibility freeing would life be, if sin could not interfere?  Think about how smoothly New Jerusalem will function.  When today’s frustrations make you wish a change – your feelings are spot-on.  Our desire for sin’s removal will, one day, be fulfilled.

I hope you are as excited about New Jerusalem as I am…our forever home will truly be “Heaven on Earth”.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Real intimacy

I really don’t like talking on the phone.  It’s too impersonal.  I don’t get to see the other person’s facial expressions and reactions, which makes communicating more difficult than it should be.  Whether I’m calling for work or personal reasons, I do my best to keep the conversation short and to the point. 

I like instant message, texting, and email even less.  I consider them to be even lower forms of communication.  I recognize that all three can be useful, but will only use them for short, brief transfers of information.  If it takes more than two sentences to type out my question or answer, I’d rather call the person.  At least I can hear their voice and quickly deal with issues and questions. However, if at all possible, I’ll go directly to them.  I’ve never understood the people at work who sit close to each other and communicate everything via IM.  There’s so much lost when we don’t speak face-to-face.

Beyond the efficiency of talking face-to-face, there’s something else happening in the moment that not even Skype or FaceTime can replicate.  There is a connectedness among those involved in the discussion…and together, the individuals dialoging face-to-face nearly create a separate persona as a byproduct of their conversation.  We have all felt this before, both as someone who is connecting with another person, or as someone who walks into a new room and can instantly tell the “mood” without anyone saying anything.

Our most intimate, intense conversations happen face-to-face.  The obvious example is the intimacy between lovers, but we also “get in someone’s face” when expressing our most intense displeasures.  The closer we get our face to another person’s face, the more our focus narrows and the stuff of the outside world is pushed aside.

Drawing on this powerful human-interaction experience, David writes the next stanza of Psalm 27.  Watch for his desire to seek God’s face, but also his concern if he is unable to do so:

Psalm 27:7-10
Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
In Your behalf my heart says, “Seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my help;
do not leave me or abandon me, God of my salvation
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

Without God’s presence in his life, David would feel left behind and alone, with a huge, empty void inside.  In a word, he would feel abandoned.  David knows that if his own merits were the criteria for meeting with God, he doesn’t deserve to see God face-to-face.  However, the last sentence of this stanza is the key to understanding their relationship:

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me.

Even if the people who are most expected to care and love him end up leaving him, David knows that being cared for by the Lord will sustain him.  This knowledge is what drives him to seek out God’s direct presence. 

The same intimate and intense relationship is available to each of us also.  Even if we’ve been abandoned by those closest to us, the Lord still cares for us.  Seek His face.  Seek his presence.  The closer we draw to Him, we’ll see what’s most important as the stuff of the outside world is pushed aside.

Keep Pressing,
Ken