The inspired Bible writer of 2 Chronicles tells us, (chapter 7, verse 14) “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, AND SEEK MY FACE, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”. The spiritual seers and prophets of the Bible knew the often marvellous results of seeking and finding the God of Israel. In what we could call a double witness, we read in the Book of Job his conclusion like that in Chronicles, “Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace.”
When we study the Book of Job we find that he proved his words. By his patient persistence under great difficulties, by seeking God’s face, he progressed steadily in his understanding of the omnipotent power of God, His goodness and mercy, and Job was lifted out of all his troubles. All he had lost during those bitter years of trial was not only restored, but multiplied and increased, all because of his fidelity and steadily growing understanding of God, our Father who art in heaven.
The Book of Job gives us assurance of our heavenly Father’s control of events, and of the blessing that is hidden in our own sometimes bitter experiences. These heartbreaking events force us back to God as nothing else could do. If our lives were a continual “bed of roses” we would not be impelled and compelled to reach out in desperation to God, to seek His face. For that reason we should be grateful for those trials and tribulations which force us to our knees before our God and only Saviour. Then we cry out to Him, “Save, or we perish.” So often, when we realize our own powerlessness, when we realize the situation is beyond human help, then we turn with all our hearts to the God of Israel, just as His Son Christ Jesus taught His followers to do, and find release.
When we have even a glimpse of these two factors, human weakness and God’s omnipotence, when we realize His Power and willingness to save, we have advanced a step in that precious understanding of God which Jesus brought to earth. That is indeed the pearl of great price, worth more than everything else in the world. Each bitter experience can mean a step closer to God, an advance out of ignorance toward the light of a better understanding of Him. Even though we “see through a glass darkly” and see the Christly Truth of God and man but dimly, yet we know that He is our Saviour who forgiveth all our iniquities and healeth all our diseases, and as we faithfully seek His face we know we are in His care, and He is leading us.
The carnal mind which is enmity against God may try to tell us that our Father in heaven is so far above sinning humanity that He does not hear our humble cry for help. But the parable of the prodigal son, the repentant Israel, reassures and comforts us. Even when he was a great way off the Father saw His Israel son and ran to meet him. He welcomed him home, forgiving his waywardness, restoring the prodigal to his place as the loved son of his Father.
It is inevitable that like Job in ancient times we Israel peoples must learn from our trials and tribulations a more perfect understanding of God. We find that there is no other answer. We find that to be free we must seek His face. We must turn from sin and suffering back to the One and Only Saviour. There is no other way than the Way shown so clearly to His followers by Christ Jesus, Son of God, son of man.
The divine impulsion from God to man to turn away from sin, away from the dictates of the ignorant carnal mind and back to God is the golden thread that runs through much of the Bible. Abram was impelled by the Spirit of God to leave Ur of the Chaldees with its false worship. He left behind him safety and security to obey the call of God. Hebrews 11:8 tells us, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” What an act of faith and obedience! What a victory over the carnal mind which is enmity against God!
Continuing the study of the Book of Genesis we read that Jacob also had his battles with that evil carnal mind, at enmity with God. That wicked influence suggested to Jacob that he could advance himself by deceit, by cheating his brother man. This same contemptuous attitude toward others is all too prevalent today throughout the world, spreading discord and war among brothers. God is forever working His divine purpose out, and in his Peniel experience Jacob’s character was completely changed. He was given a better understanding of God and a clearer appreciation of man made in God’s image. In verse 33:10 we read Jacob’s words to Esau, “I have seen thy face as though I had seen the face of God …” What a reversal of thought!
We see that Jacob was now a changed man, healed of his former grasping, acquisitive nature, healed of an unloving concept of his brother Esau. His character having been thus changed, God also changed his name to Israel, a servant of God or a soldier of God. This conversion of Jacob to Israel reminds us of the conversion, centuries later, of Saul of Tarsus, the implacable enemy of Christians and Christianity. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, he was changed to be a staunch Christian, one of its most effective apostles, and his name was changed to Paul. Truly God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. We stand in awe before Him.
As we look at the sweep of Bible history it is inspiring to realize that God is indeed working His purpose out, down the millennia and down the centuries. Evil continually gives way to omnipotent good. God is forever on the field, although He seems invisible, and His final triumph over all evil is sure and certain as Bible history indicates. Always His people have been compelled to renounce evil and go up higher. Although the warfare against wickedness sometimes seems to be a losing battle, the broad sweep of Bible history proves just the opposite. Nothing can withstand Omnipotence. As Revelation 19:6 proclaims, “Alleluia! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” God’s Kingdom will most certainly come on earth as it is in heaven.
Job, Abraham, Jacob, Paul, all humbled themselves and prayed. They sought and obeyed the direction of God, sought His face. They have thereby blessed men and nations, leaving to the world their God-inspired example.