by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Psalm 27:4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.
The Hebrew word for "face" is "panim", (the Hebrew letters, peh-nun-yud-mem), literally "faces", a plural word. Normally, when we think about God, we focus only upon one of His "faces” at a time. God is "love" – or He is "holy"– or He is "just"— or He's a God of "wrath". Yet, of course, ALL these "faces" are His at once; and so the word "panim" accurately reflects the truth of God's multifaceted being. As we get to know Him better we begin to appreciate the complexity of His nature and the fact that our focus on one "face" is a very limited view, since there's so much more going on in His amazing "Personality".
Now the same four Hebrew letters which form the word "face", (peh-nun-yud-mem), also form the Hebrew word for "inside" or "interior". * This would seem to contradict the first meaning, "face", since "face" is the external part of a person or thing, not the inside. Yet here, as with many Hebrew words and concepts lies a deep truth, a paradox which expresses two sides of reality. The "face" is intimately connected with the "interior", and may accurately reveal the true "interior" of someone. There's even a science (or perhaps you might call it an art) of reading peoples' true attitudes and character by looking carefully at their facial expressions. So while we don't "judge a book by it's cover", we may begin to know a person better by carefully looking at her face…because it is true that the face often says something real about the inside of a person. Yeshua (Jesus) said, "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light." Inside and out, we're connected.
And this is something God wants us to do with Him; to meditate, or gaze upon His "panim", His "faces", and so to receive from His interior depths. Someday, we will see Him "face to face", and begin to know Him in ways which are unimaginable. Yet it is possible, by His Spirit within us, to begin now.
God desires us to look deeper into who He is, even as we only look or meditate on one of His "faces". King David expressed his own unique desire in these words: "One thing I have asked from YHVH, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of YHVH all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the YHVH and to meditate in His temple." God's faces and His "interior" are one continuous eternal wonder. Let us spend time simply beholding Him!
* In Israel, the Ministry of the "Interior" is the first "face" you meet when interacting with the State on visa issues which determine your internal status in the Land. In Hebrew it's called the "Misrad HaPanim" (Office of the INTERIOR), literally, "Office of the Faces"!