O is for Omni-

God is Omni-

Theologians have a fascination with making new words to describe God’s character and attributes.  There are three such words that have the Latin prefix Omni-, which simply means “all”.  I have used one in a scripture reference this week and talked about another briefly.  These are Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient.  Let’s look at the obvious one first.

Omnipotent is a word that I very easily and accurately could have substituted or added to my “I is for…” list when I was for Almighty or “El”, the Supreme God.  In fact, some translations of the Revelation 19 passage I quoted read “Alleluia! For the Lord God Almighty reigns!”  Often, the Hebrew word is translated “Lord of Hosts”.  It appears 9 times in Revelation and numerous times in the Old Testament.


Revelation 1:8 speaks of God’s Omnipotence and pre-eminence, His Omnipresence.  Omnipresence means that God is everywhere.  The writer of Psalm 139 remarks that there is nowhere he can hide from the presence of the Lord.  “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

The entire psalm speaks to God’s omnipresence and the last word, His Omniscience.  I reference this when I said that God had infinite wisdom, as omniscience means all-knowing.  In English, we say that an author is omniscient if he chronicles events in an impartial way, knowing the thoughts and feelings of all the characters through all events.  The same with God; He knows everything.


In 1 Chronicles 1 when Solomon asks God for wisdom and understanding, it is implied the God has knowledge and understanding or He couldn’t give it to Solomon.  Job says “But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.” (Job 32:8)  Also, “For truly my words are not false; One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.  Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty in strength of understanding.”(Job 36:4-5)  In Job 38-41, God is trying to give Job some perspective as He enunciates the wealth of His creative knowledge and power.

The foreknowledge of God is the basis of His foreordained counsels, His promises, His warnings and predictions.  J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses.  As I already mentioned, check out psalm 139 and see what the psalmist writes of God’s Omnipresence, God’s Infinite Power, and God’s vast foreknowledge.

Omni- a prefix we use to mean “all” or “infinite”, sums up our understanding of the attributes of God.  God is Omnipotent; He has infinite power and nothing is too difficult or impossible for Him.  God is Omnipresent; He is everywhere and there is nowhere to go away from Him.  God will never leave or forsake.  God is Omniscient; He knows everything, nothing surprises Him and nothing stumps Him.  With just our knowledge of these attributes, we would shake in our socks and mess our drawers, but thanks be to God, He is also Love, not treating us as our deeds deserve but by grace through faith, He adopts us into His family and gives us His Holy Spirit, whereby we can call Him Abba Father.

N is for New Heaven/Jerusalem

New Heaven

As I sit down to write this, I can’t help but feel a little nervous.  The first essay in which I included a teaser, E is for Eternity, was attempting to peak your interest for this very monologue.  I put in the first lines of a thought that I was formulating and exploring back in October of 2010.  I have since made further discovery on the subject matter, but this next thought I want to posit will seem a little out of left field.  I guess there is nothing left for me to do but swallow, take a deep breath and begin.

‘Is it not so hard to wrap one’s head around the concept of eternity? In a world where everything we see and experience is temporary and gone in an instant, I would say it is.  Whenever trying to grasp this, we try to use the language of this temporary world.  I believe there is a place and state of being that does not have time.  Not just that is passes without our knowledge or notice, but that it actually doesn’t exist.  All language has a past, present, and future tense, yet Jesus never uses anything other than the present tense when talking about eternity.  The present tense is a tense that usually never acknowledges the passage of time or the completion of things.  It is like the present progressive that denotes an ongoing action.’

If we say rightly that God created time, then it follows that there is in fact a state of being completely outside the constructs of time.  When we say that God is eternal (eternal past), it is implied that God dwells in this state.  I ran into a snag the other day when I applied the language of time to this state of being when none of it can apply nor should it.  But let’s talk about the topic from above.

Revelation 21:1 speaks of the current heaven and earth passing away and God creating a new heaven and new earth.  It is the final product of the New Covenant from Jeremiah 31, which I quoted in “E is for Eternity”, the fulfillment of the three part promise that “I will be your God and you will be My people and I will dwell with you.”

This new heaven, though, seems to be marked not necessarily by what is there (God, the Lamb, Church, etc) but by what isn’t.  The only things found in it are those that are required.  It has no temple, for God and the Lamb is its temple (Rev 21:22).  It has no sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates it.  Indeed, “The Lamb is its light,” Rev 21:23.  Over and over, John remarks that there is no night.  The sun, moon, and night seem significant to me because they are all things we use to mark and measure time.  The phrase “forever and ever” in Rev 22:5 is an idiomatic expression that indicates an undefined period. This future, then, seems to be a return to existence before time, outside its confines.

Revelation 22:4 says, “They shall see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads.”  If you remember, I addressed this in some detail in “F is for Face” and “H is for Holy”, but it would appear that somehow the things which are so incomprehensible about the very nature of God in our current state have, in this future Heaven, been made known to us and not only known but familiar.  And oh, how glorious that will be!

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. “  Revelation 21:3-7

M is for Messiah


Messiah is a word that means “Anointed one”.  It can be used to address any king, prophet, or priest in the Old Testament.  In fact, an odd application of the words is found in Isaiah 45:1 when Cyrus is called the Lord’s anointed.  Obviously, he was appointed to return the captives of Israel back to Jerusalem and authorize the rebuilding of the temple.  “Messiah” is actually an English derivative of a Hebrew word, but its Greek equal is more widely known, Christos or Christ.

One of the first recorded messages by Jesus recorded in Luke is Jesus proclaiming Himself to be the Anointed One, The Christ.  In Luke 4:16-22, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:12, “The spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor…This is fulfilled in your hearing.”  John the baptizer, when he doubted, sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the Christ or should we look for another?”  I love His answer. Jesus tells the disciples to tell John what they see and hear, as He heals the blind, lame, lepers, deaf, and preaches the gospel to the poor.

Perhaps the second most interesting conversation Jesus has with Peter is when He asks His disciples who the crowds say that He is.  The responses seem pretty typical of a crowd on the fringe of understanding what Jesus was doing.  Yet, Peter’s personal response (as seen in Matt 16:13-17; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-22) seems to show an understanding that is only complete after the Holy Spirit comes with power at Pentecost.

I think that at this, the midway point, it behooves us to take a moment to look at what the promised Messiah was sent to do.  The gospel of Matthew was written from a Jewish perspective and seems to try to convince the reader that Jesus was the Messiah.  Its numerous quotations of the Old Testament prophesies make it an ideal place to look when revisiting what was prophesied about the coming messiah, about Jesus.  In my remaining space, I will just list off some things that were foretold and the references of their fulfillment.

Virgin Birth- Isa 7:14 -> Matt 1:18-25

Born in Bethlehem- Micah 5:2 -> Matt 2:1-6

Live in Egypt- Hosea 11:1 -> Matt 2:13-15

Children of Bethlehem put to death- Jer 31:5 -> Matt 2:16-18

Preaching in Galilee- Isa 9:1-2 -> Matt 4:12-17

Bearing infirmities- Isa 53:4 -> Matt 8:1-17 (among others)

Speak in parables- Ps 78:2 -> Matt 13:1-35 (among others)

Ride on a donkey- Zech 9:9 -> Matt 21:1-10

Children praise Jesus- Ps 8:2 -> Matt 21:15-16

Betrayed- Ps 41:9 -> Matt 26:14:16

Followers scattered- Zech 13:7 -> Matt 26:47-56

Spat on and struck- Isa 50:6 -> Matt 26:67

Crucified with criminals- Isa 53:12 -> Matt 27:38

Garments divided- Ps 22:8 -> Matt 27:35

Forsaken by God- Ps 22:1 -> Matt 27:46

Buried with the rich- Isa 53:9 -> Matt 27: 57-60

Resurrect from the dead- Ps 16:10; Ps 49:15 -> Matt 28:2-7

And these are just the ones that are fulfilled in the Matthew narrative.  There are many many more.

L is for lamb


When God was about to deliver the final plague that would free the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt, He told Moses to get everyone together in their houses.  They were going to have a feast, a special feast, but they had to do some things first.  God wanted them to take a firstborn lamb that was without spot or blemish and kill it at twilight.  They were to take some of the blood from this sheep or goat and paint it over the mantle of their door and on the posts.  The meat from this animal they were to cook in fire and eat with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  It was the Lord’s Passover.

This they did in accordance with the word God spoke to Moses and that very night, the Lord struck down all the firstborn of Egypt from the greatest to the least, but the Lord passed over the households of the Israelites that had the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and mantle of their houses.  Thusly, God delivered the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt.  Every year thereafter at the same time, the children of Israel were to observe the feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover, to commemorate their rescue.

Also once a year, in the Levitical covenant, the priests were to sacrifice a lamb in the temple as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people.  Again, this lamb was to be an unblemished firstborn among the flocks and its blood sprinkled inside the veil, the most holy place before the Ark of the Covenant (mercy seat of God).  This sacrificial lamb would take the place of the people in payment of the penalty of sin.  This was done year after year, over and over again, a temporary fix for a deeply entrenched problem.

It was prophesied that a Lamb would come that would take away sin once and for all.  When Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized by John, John called out, “Behold! The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, (John 1:29)

Heb 9:11-15-> 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Heb 9:22 says, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

It continues in verse 26, “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

Even so, Jesus is known as the Lamb of God in Rev 5:6.  Indeed, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing…You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation….blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.  Amen and Amen!”

“Alleluia! For the Lord God omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage feast of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready…Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”  Rev 19:6-7, 9

K is for King


In ancient Greece, there was a protocol for asking permission to bury their dead after battle.  The loser would come before the victor and bow before him.  In his prostrate position, he would put his hand on the thigh of the victor.  This was a sign of recognizing who controlled the battlefield and a request for mercy so that the defeated army could perform the last rites for the dead.  It was an act of submission.

My favorite “Jacksie” wrote about the relationship between God and Nature in Miracles, “…everything looks as if it were not resisting an alien invader but rebelling against a lawful sovereign.”  He further writes, “The fitness of the Christian miracles, and their difference from these mythological miracles, lies in the fact that they show invasion by a power that is not alien.  They are what might be expected to happen when she is invaded not simply by a god but by the God of nature: by a Power which is outside her jurisdiction not as a foreigner but as a sovereign.  They proclaim that He who has come is not merely a king, but The King, her king and ours.”  (Ps 10:16; Ps 24, Jer 10:10)

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be glory and honor forever and ever, Amen!”

A couple days ago, I asked “How can one as unworthy as I ever exalt and lift high the One who is above all?” and I gave you a scripture reference.  There is an old tradition in the courts of kings that extended to the time of the gentry (Think of Jane Austen England).  In the feudal caste system there was a lot of bowing, even among the un-titled.  The rule went like this:  When two people of unequal standing met and they greeted each other with a bow, the bow of the lesser in standing had to be deeper than that of the greater.  In fact, the difference in depth was directly related to the difference in standing.  It was an acknowledgement of superior standing and a sign of submission, especially where a king was involved.  The only way, then, to exalt and lift up One who is above all is to give everything that is His to Him in submission and to surrender control.

That required submission and surrender is singularly the hardest part of interacting with God in a healthy manner.  We are, by nature, selfish creatures who want to have control at all times, even if it’s only a mirage.  The height of frustration is when things happen outside our control but the height of peace in the midst of those events outside our control occurs when we let the peace of God rule in our hearts (remember E is for Eternity).  A peace unable to be stolen comes when we put all into the hands of the One who controls everything, who, as we remember, is infinitely good, infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, infinitely faithful and true, and who infinitely loves us so deeply.

J is for Jesus


When I first started teaching Sunday school back in January, I struggled with fear, not know how my message would be received.  Eighty percent of the adults in the class were older than me and a good portion of those had been Christians longer than I’d been alive.  It was rather intimidating.  I was afraid they’d see the socially-awkward, uncomfortably tall and lanky, ten year old boy that I was when they first met me, instead of the twenty-seven year old man of God that was sharing a message he’s received from the Lord and poured his time and energy into preparing.  I was afraid their perception of me would shroud the message.

What are your perceptions of Jesus?  What Jesus do you serve?  The Jesus in a manger that we celebrate this month? The Jesus that died on the cross like the Catholics? Or the One who rose again?  Maybe He’s the Jesus who healed the sick or forgave sins or had compassion on the leaderless, or the Jesus that ascended into heaven?  Or do you not know that He is seated now at the right hand of the Father.  He is the Revelation 1 Jesus, the Daniel 7:9, 13-14 Jesus, the Philippians 2:9-11 Jesus.

Rev 1-> Jesus Christ is described as the Faithful witness, firstborn from the dead, ruler over the kings of the earth, He who loved us, washed us from our sins with His own blood, made us kings and priests to His God and Father, Alpha, Omega, Beginning, End, Who was and is and is to come.

Image->Some of the imagery John uses helps us understand who Jesus is.   Chest of a golden band, head and hair white as wool or snow, eyes like a flame of fire, voice like the sound of many waters, stars in His right hand, mouth of sharp double-edged sword, countenance like the sun shining in its strength

Countenance like the sun-> Matt 17:2, Ex 34:29-35, Mal 4:2

Clothed with garment-> Zech 3:3-4

Sharp double-edged sword-> Heb 4:12 context is disobedience

Eyes like the flame of fire-> eyes see they have vision, God is a consuming fire; a jealous God like a jealous boyfriend Ex 20:4-5

Gold is pure-> holy; band is over the heart, the wellspring of life

Here are some examples of how the seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation 2-3 had a incorrect view of Jesus and it skewed their relationship.

Ephesus-> Jesus is “He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks among the seven lamp stands(churches)” Jesus said they had left their first love and His warning was that, if they didn’t repent and do the first works, He would remove their lamp stand from its place.

Smyrna-> Jesus is “The First and last, who was dead and came to life”.  Jesus’ admonishment is that they would be faithful even unto death and He would give them the crown of Life.

Pergamos-> Jesus is “He who has the sharp two-edged sword.  His issue with Pergamos is that they have sinned, they’ve been disobedient.  Remember that the context of Hebrews 4:12 is disobedience.

Thyratira-> Jesus, the “Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire and His feet like fine brass”, tells this church that they are disobedient and idolatrous.  Remember that God is jealous for His people.

Sardis-> Jesus is again “He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars”, but the church of Sardis is dead and in danger of losing their place among the churches.

Philadelphia-> Jesus is “He who is holy, He who is true”.  The church in Philadelphia was true to Him and if they persevered, Jesus would write on them His new name (Faithful and True)

Laodicea-> Jesus is “The Amen, the Faithful and True witness, the Beginning of the creation of God”.  This church’s witness (works) was not faithful or true.  Instead they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.  Jesus tells them to buy from Him gold refined in the fire and white garments that you might be clothed.  Remember what those were a reference to in Revelation 1

So then how should this realization affect how we interact with God or how we act in faith?

I is for…

When my church compiled their Advent book in 2009, I picked “I” as the letter that I wanted to do my devotional thought on.  Now, it would be easy to just pull up the entry that I submitted and make this day a very easy one for me, but the topic from four years ago really doesn’t flow with the threads of thought that I’ve woven so far and certainly not as seamlessly as what follows will.  That being said, if anyone is interested in what “I” was for in 2009, post a comment about it and I’ll give you a bonus “I” post.

Have you ever made a new friend and then discovered later that everything they told you about themselves was a lie?  There’s a feeling of being played that overtakes you and it quickly dampens if not halts the friendship.  Aren’t we fortunate then that someone wants a relationship with us who can’t lie or go back on His word?  Remember my entry for “D”.  The two attributes that define Him are faithful and true.

God has made a lot of statements about Himself in the Bible that are a good place to start with getting to know Him.  I’m just going to list them off with some scripture references in three categories:  Old testament, John, and Revelation 1 (Note, I’ve mentioned Revelation 1 several times already and will go into more detail on it tomorrow in “J is for Jesus”, so I won’t spend much time on the last part.

“I am …” statements in the Old Testament

Shield and exceedingly great reward- Gen 15:1

Almighty God (Él-> the supreme) – Gen 17:1

“…That I AM” (Self-existent or eternal) – Ex 3:14

LORD (YHWH)(See above) – Ex 6:2

A jealous God (in relation to having other gods) – Ex 20:5

Gracious- Ex 22:27

The Lord who sanctifies- Ex 31:13

Holy (remember yesterday) – Lev 11:44

Savior and redeemer (kinsman redeemer)- Isa 49:26 (Lev 25:47-55)

First and Last- Isa 48:12; Rev 1:11

“I am…” statements in John, which are often metaphorical teachings surrounding a miracle Jesus performs

6:48-> Bread of Life

8:12-> Light of the World

8:58-> God (I AM is referencing His self-existence)

10:7-11-> Door of the sheep; Good Shepherd

11:25-> Resurrection and the Life

14:6-> the Way, the Truth, and the Life

15:1-> Vine

Revelation 1: 8-> “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

1:11-> “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,”

1:18-> “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

H is for Holy


When you declare that there is no one like God, you are simply acknowledging His holiness.

Have you ever put something aside for someone? Paul and Barnabas were consecrated for the work to which they were called (Acts 13:2).  In a way, that something is holy, in the sense that it’s set apart for a specific task or person.   “Holy” after all in its simplest terms means “set apart”.  But doesn’t that seem to lessen the significance of the word when it relates to God?

In Miracles, C.S. Lewis talks about God’s sheer otherness, which has obscured Him in the intellectual world and causes philosophy as it relates to theology (which is literally the study of God) to spin out of its orbit.  There are many thoughts out there that equate God to this abstract, formless everything and everywhere. Some go as far as to say that we humans are somehow a part of or can become a part of this all-encompassing consciousness they claim as god.

Remember when I quoted the first five words of Genesis 1?  I will use them to demonstrate what I mean by sheer otherness.  “In the Beginning, God created…”  God is the only Being that has ever existed outside the constructs of time, i.e. before God created Time, He existed.  God is the only Being that did not have a beginning.  He is infinitely good, infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, and infinitely perfect.   In as much as there are things about God that are outside the realm of our experience, there are still others that are very much in our realm of possibilities.

I believe that this “sheer otherness” is what is obscured by light at the Transfiguration and in Revelation 1.  In short, I think the holiness of God is that part of His glory that He didn’t let Moses see in its fullness.  The pieces seem to fit.  Seeing God’s perfect righteousness would cause anyone not as righteous as Him to die.  Even the thought of pre-dating time itself (though that terminology is inappropriate) or contemplating the vastness and limitlessness of infinite perfection boggles the mind.

Yet, the beauty of His holiness, His sheer otherness, is that He does not deign to be in relationship with His creatures, like some reluctant play buddy. On the contrary, He desires it; He wants it so much that His own Son’s death is a price He’s willing to pay for it to happen.  Rightly, we hide our eyes from His holiness and mercifully God veils the full weight of His sheer otherness.  But there will come a …I suppose it would be best to say time…when we will be able to see it and live.

Psalm 99:5(NIV) “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.”

Psalm 34:3 “Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.”

How can one as unworthy and little as I ever exalt and lift high the One who is above all?

Psalm 95:6

G is for Grace


Have you ever told someone you loved them and then they failed to reciprocate?  If you have, you know more about that situation than I do, but I want to use that word picture as a segue foundation for my discussion today about grace.  In Christian circles, we define grace simply as unmerited favor, but how can just two words tell us the whole story.  Unmerited how? Favor when?  These terms seem too broad.

As it happens to me all the time, experiences and things I see in everyday life remind me of biblical truths.  I want to visit one such encounter.  I have recently cultivated an interest in comic book heroes and the cheapest, albeit diluted, way of indulging this interest is in TV shows and movies.  One such TV Show tells the story of Green Arrow, a DC comic vigilante who uses a bow and arrows to try to clean up crime in his city.  In the process of taking the law into his own hands, he kills people.  In his public life, he has a friendship with a female lawyer.  This friendship is based on a deep regard for one another that once was romantic but Green Arrow has distanced himself from because of his double life.  This lawyer friend, after a period of time, disapproves of Green Arrow’s activities.  She eventually believes him to be a criminal who should be arrested and spearheads efforts to that end.  As always happens in comics, the woman is kidnapped and in danger of being killed.  Green Arrow finds out about this and, knowing that this lady friend wants to arrest him, saves her anyway.

As I watched this unfold before my eyes, I couldn’t help but tear up.  I had to pause the episode and process what I was viewing.  God isn’t some vigilante criminal like Green Arrow but my (our) thoughts, feelings, and actions toward Him were similar to the lawyer’s.  For all intents and purposes, we wanted him arrested, killed, gone; we were enemies, but you see, we had animosity toward Him, but He loved us, period. Not anyway, not in spite of, he just did.  And we needed saving.  The action of God on our behalf was unmerited in that we were enemies, at least in our minds, and favor when we wanted him arrested, killed, gone.

Romans 5:8 says  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Indeed God’s grace is not merely unmerited favor but rather saving us from death at great price to Himself when we despised Him, with no guarantee that His actions would change our minds.  This comic book story was compelling to me because it mirrored the account of Jesus’ crucifixion.  In the words of the song, it was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.  As we have looked at the cross as the love story, the bride price, we must remember that it also was the only way to save us from the death our sin deserved.

“Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it. It means that while we were sinners and enemies we have been treated as sons and heirs.”  ~R.C.P. Hanson~

F is for Face


 If you’ve ever watched a spy thriller or a crime drama, you’ve indubitably run across facial recognition software.  It is computer software that sifts through facial features in an attempt to match images with an effective degree of probability.   In these thrillers, a CSI might use it to identify a John Doe or a spy might use it to spot a mark in video surveillance or in an attempt to uncover a disguise.

 The word “face” in the Bible can have a few meanings; it can mean literally one’s face, or more specifically one’s facial expressions, their countenance. One place that I always think of when I think of the word in the Bible is in Exodus 33, where it says that “God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”(verse 11).  Yet later in the chapter when Moses asked God to show him His glory, God says that no man can see His face and live. (Exodus 33:17-23)

 This seems contradictory and I have many times pondered what this is about, this passage being as it is one of my favorites.  I discovered that verse 11 is talking about how God and Moses would converse in person, as opposed to the other ways God would communicate to people.  We can deduce that Moses, while he had a special relationship with God, did not actually see His face. As an aside that I will pick up in future essays, it appears that God defines His glory as being His goodness, mercy and compassion, in addition to His face that He has to protect us from.

 As dangerous as it is, men are commanded to seek God’s face numerous occasions (1 Chr 16:11; 2 Chr 7:14; Ps 27:8; 105:4 among others).  God’s solution to the problem of death taking anyone who sees His face is to wrap it in light like a garment.  Psalm 104:2 says “He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent,” (NIV).  We see examples of this in other places in the Scriptures.

 At the Transfiguration, Jesus revealed Himself in glory and His face was altered.  Matthew tells us it shone like the sun (Matt 17:2).  When Jesus appeared to John on the Island of Patmos in Revelation 1, He had a countenance that was like the sun shining in its strength.  I’ll expand on the observations on Revelation 1 in later posts, but the point now is that there are many examples of Jesus’ face being veiled in light.

 So then, in Moses’ story, when he would go into the Tent of Meeting to meet with God, he would come out with a face that shone and the Israelites were afraid to draw near to Moses.  Moses would put on a veil to hide his face and thus veiled tell the people what God had told him in the tent.  That brings me to one of my dad’s favorite passages.

 “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:12-18 (NIV)