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I Will Bless Those Who Bless You

Books that will challenge your current Biblical perspective.
The Fire That Consumes
The Parousia
The Biblical Church
Clinging to a Counterfeit Cross

by Peter Cohen

Published: OCTOBER 4, 2012

Article from Messianic Good News

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The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen. 12:1-3).

The promise of blessing to Abraham is greatly misunderstood and misapplied by many Christians today. This article sets out to examine what it means to be blessed by God and how the blessing is received, tracing the promise of blessing from Adam, through Abraham's seed to the fulfilment in the Messiah. It also looks at the converse of God's blessing – what it means to be under God's curse.

Blessings and Curses

When God made the covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai it offered the promise of blessing for obedience, but also curses for disobedience. The consequence of disobeying God's word is to be under a curse.

Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them: "…This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…" (Dt. 30: 2, 19-20).

The entire creation was subjected to a curse as a result of the disobedience of Adam (Romans 8:20). Man was banished from the Garden of Eden, where he had enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God and assigned to hard labour which was frustrated by thorns and thistles. After all this – contending with disease, pests, weeds, drought, famine and many other trials and obstacles – he was sentenced to die and return to the very ground that he had toiled over to provide his sustenance:

The LORD said to Adam, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return" (Genesis 3:17-19).

The writer of Ecclesiastes described the futility of this existence, cut off from the life of God, as meaningless, a chasing after the wind. But just as the curse came through the disobedience of one man, Adam, the blessing promised to Abraham was destined to come through the obedience of one man, the Messiah (see Romans 5:15). The good news of the Messiah who would redeem man from the consequence of his sin and reconcile him to God was announced by the Lord immediately after the fall when he said to the serpent, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15) .1

This is the same blessing promised to Abraham, the good news that was announced to Abraham in advance: Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." (Galatians 3:6-8).

The LORD said to Abraham, "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you" because the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (the seed of Abraham). Furthermore, those who would be redeemed by the Messiah would have the same faith as Abraham and would inherit his blessing: So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Gal. 3:9). Psalm 72 states quite plainly that it is through the Messiah that all nations will be blessed: Endow the King [Messiah] with your justice, O God, the Royal Son with your righteousness. He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice….May his Name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed (Psalm 72:1; 17).

To be blessed by God is to have the curse removed and to once again enjoy God's favour and approval. Grace is essentially God's unmerited favour. Thus the birth of the Messiah was accompanied by a great company of angels proclaiming, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests" (Luke 2:13-14).

After Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit he publicly announced that he was the promised Messiah (anointed one) sent to redeem mankind from the curse of sin and death. Going to the Synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath, he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." He then rolled up the scroll and said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (see Luke 4:14-21).

The blessing is received by faith not by observing the Law

The deliverance from Egypt merely foreshadowed the ultimate redemption from slavery to sin and restoration to Paradise where the curse is completely removed and we are given the right to eat from the tree of life.2

Four-hundred-and-thirty years after the LORD made the promise to Abraham he made the covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. In this covenant he promised to bless his people if they remained obedient, but he warned them of all the curses that would come upon them as a consequence of disobedience. The people of Israel resolved to obey everything the LORD commanded, but choosing to obey is one thing, being able to obey is another. The inclination of man to rebel against God's commands inevitably brings him under the curse of the LORD. Moses predicted the curses that would come upon Israel due to their stubborn and sinful hearts: "Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!" (Deuteronomy 31:24-27).

The writer to the Hebrews stressed the consequence of unbelief: Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:16).

The covenant at Mt. Sinai did not set aside the blessing promised to Abraham, but it was put in place to show that no sinners could inherit the blessing because of their disobedience. The Law showed that all men are sinners and are completely undeserving of God's blessing. We are sinners by nature and in need of a circumcised heart. The promise of the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel was to change man's sinful heart and write his law upon the heart (Jer. 31:33 and Ezek. 36:26). In other words, the covenant at Sinai confirmed that God's blessing would only be received by faith in the Messiah, not by Law.

Paul taught this very clearly: The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ… But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe… So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:15-24).

The blessing is received by faith, but those who shrink back to the familiarity and comfort of their family, friends and traditions forfeit the blessing because they show that they do not have the faith of Abraham by which he was justified. God's word exposes the very thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. Those who do not believe the word of God spoken through Jesus the Messiah show that they are not true children of Abraham (cf. John 8:31-47). In the same way that Abraham was blessed because he believed God and obeyed, leaving his country, his people and his father's household in order to follow the LORD, Jesus said, "Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me" (John 6:45) and: "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:37-39).

When Moses enumerated the blessings and curses he said to the Israelites, "Now choose life…" There is only one way to choose life and that is to follow Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well" (John 14:6-7). Whoever listens to God comes to Jesus Christ. Moses said, "The LORD is your life." Jesus has been revealed as both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36) and he is our life: When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col. 3:1-4).

After Jesus made the new covenant, which he ratified in his own blood, the old covenant made at Mt. Sinai became obsolete (see Hebrews 8:13) and once the temple was destroyed it was no longer possible to live in obedience to the Law of Moses. Paul wrote: God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all, (through faith in Jesus Christ). He also wrote: All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit (Galatians 3:10-14).

Some teachers have suggested that the LORD's promise to Abraham was completely unconditional. But the LORD said to Abraham, "My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant" (Genesis 17:9-14).

This became a controversial issue in the early church. Many teachers insisted that for Gentile believers in Christ to become sharers in God's promise to Abraham they had to be circumcised in the flesh. However, the apostle Paul argued quite emphatically that the circumcision done by the Holy Spirit is a radical cutting off of the earthly sinful nature and that it is those who have received that circumcision, not by the hands of men, who constitute the true covenant people:

Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus,… (Phil. 3:2-3).

In Christ you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,…(Colossians 2:11).

The apostle Paul taught that those who are in Christ, regardless of natural descent, are Abraham's descendants. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring (Romans 9:6-8).

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29).

Christ is the blessing – apart from him there is no blessing!

The LORD instructed Moses to tell Aaron, This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: "The LORD bless you…" (Numbers 6:22-23). To bless others in the Name of the LORD would imply invoking the favour of the LORD upon them. Is it possible to bless anyone while sin and rebellion prevail? The priestly blessing was consistent with everything written in the Law and with God's promise to Abraham. Invoking the priestly blessing did not cancel out the curses enumerated in the Law for disobedience.

It is foolish to suppose that the priests could invoke the blessing over Israel regardless of their faithfulness or obedience as if it were a magic formula by which the LORD would be bound. It must be emphasised that the Aaronic blessing was pronounced over God's holy nation who had been called according to his purpose which was to be revealed in Christ. But, according to the Law, people were to be cut off from the assembly of worshippers for a variety of reasons, in which case the blessing no longer applied to them.

When Korah rebelled against Moses, he and all those who joined him were separated from God's holy nation and fell under God's stern judgement. How much more sternly will those who rebel against God's anointed King be judged unless they repent and are grafted back in to God's holy assembly (cf. Romans 11:23).

Unless they are redeemed from the curse through faith in Jesus Christ every natural descendant of Israel is cut off from God's holy people (Romans 11). The only way to be set free from the curse and restored to faithfulness and obedience is through faith in Jesus Christ. To think that God's blessing may be received by the natural descendants of Abraham irrespective of their unbelief and rebellion implies that God's blessing may be received by those who remain at enmity with God. Yet a growing number of Christians are insisting that Gentile believers are obligated to "bless" unbelieving Israel in order to receive the Lord's blessing. Just as it is impossible to curse those who are blessed by God, it is impossible to impart the blessing to those who are under the curse for their own disobedience unless they repent and believe. Every promise that God has made is fulfilled in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). There is no blessing apart from him.

One often hears the accusation from Christian Zionists that the Church has "stolen" all the blessings while ascribing all the curses to unbelieving Israel. Such an accusation only demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what the blessing is. All are under a curse unless they have been redeemed from the curse through Jesus Christ – the blessing is through Christ alone to all who believe. This blessing can neither be "stolen", nor imparted, unfaithful people who are cut off due to their own unbelief. Ironically, it was unfaithful, carnal-minded Esau who accused his brother Jacob of deceitfully taking the blessing from him, but it was nevertheless according to God's purpose. Therefore, the writer to the Hebrews warns us not to be like Esau who forfeited the blessing through his own godless behaviour.

Many people associate God's blessing with temporal things – wealth, prosperity, good health etc. On one occasion when Jesus told his disciples to feed the multitude, Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" Jesus came to redeem us from a meaningless existence and from the curse which ultimately leads only to death. He demonstrated his authority to remove the curse by providing an abundance of food for the masses without the toil and sweat of man's brow. This miracle was a reminder of how God had sustained and fed his people in the wilderness when he delivered them from Egypt. But he cautioned those who had experienced the miracle, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:26-29).

How do those who have received the blessing become a blessing?

This carnal and erroneous concept of what it means to be blessed, coupled with a misunderstanding of the LORD's words to Abraham "I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse," has given rise to something akin to superstition regarding the blessing of Abraham's descendants, assuming that "blessing" unbelieving Israel (in temporal terms) will guarantee them temporal blessings in return.

The only way to impart the blessing of the LORD to Israel is to unashamedly proclaim the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ. The only way to receive the blessing is to welcome the good news which comes through the messengers of Christ: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7).

If we fail to do this we are, in effect, withholding the blessing from them. Just as Isaac had no other blessing for Esau, there is no other blessing for those who are under the curse apart from the blessing of eternal life that comes through Jesus the Messiah. Any other so called "blessing" may in fact be a curse in disguise if it ignores the serious consequence of unbelief. There is no good news other than the good news of salvation in Christ: The apostle Paul warned about those who preach a different gospel: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:6-9).

God's purpose in calling Israel out from among the nations was to bring forth the revelation of the Messiah and Redeemer of mankind. The people of Israel were entrusted with the word of God – the revelation of his salvation – to bring the light of the knowledge of God to the ends of the earth. The first believers (most of whom were Jewish), fulfilled this calling: they received the blessing of eternal life by faith in Christ and in turn imparted the blessing by taking the good news of Jesus Christ to the nations. The Gentiles who received the message continued to spread the good news to the ends of the earth, fulfilling the promise to Abraham that through his seed all peoples on earth would be blessed. Those who welcome the ambassadors of Jesus Christ in turn receive the blessings of the gospel which is forgiveness of sin, peace with God and, of course, eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward" (Matthew 10:40-42).

When the Ammonites and Moabites refused to meet Israel with bread or water as they sojourned through their territory they were cursed and forbidden from entering the church (assembly) of the LORD for ten generations (Deut.23:3-4). With this in mind Jesus said that those who offered water to someone because he was a disciple of Christ, would receive a reward in return. If they receive the messengers of Christ they will also receive the message. That is why it is necessary for them to say "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" before Christ can be revealed to them and they can partake of the blessing.

The Blessing of the Messiah encapsulated in the Priestly Blessing

The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."' So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them" (Numbers 6:22-27).

The LORD bless you …

It has been amply demonstrated from Scripture that the Lord's blessing is received by faith in the Messiah. Thus the priestly blessing that was to be pronounced over God's holy nation finds its fulfilment in the revelation of the Messiah and the new covenant sealed in the precious blood of the Lamb of God. This can be seen in each phrase of the blessing.

The apostle Paul confirmed that those who believe are the recipients of every spiritual blessing: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Jesus, who is our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, pronounces his blessing over those whom he has called out of darkness into his wonderful light.

This man (Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High), …did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater (Hebrews 7:6-7).

The blessing is for those who have been redeemed in Christ: Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).

and keep You …

The Lord is our shepherd. He watches over the sheep of his pasture to keep them from straying from his protection. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one" (John 10:27-30).

The apostle Peter was confident in his own resolve to remain faithful no matter what the cost, but Jesus said to him, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me" (Luke 22:31-34).

Unless the Lord keeps us by his grace and mercy we would fall into all kinds of temptation and be overcome by evil. It is only by his Spirit that we are able to walk in faithfulness and obedience. The Lord has fulfilled his gracious promise made through the prophet Ezekiel through the new covenant in Jesus Christ : "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen (Jude verses 24-25).

The LORD make his face shine upon you …

Under the old covenant a veil separated men from God's presence in the Most Holy Place of the temple because the full radiance and glory of God cannot shine upon, nor be reflected by, sinners. The writer to the Hebrews explains that the Holy Spirit was showing that the way into the Most Holy Place (of God's presence) had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing (Hebrews 9:8). When Moses came down from the mountain after receiving the Law, he put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away (2 Cor. 3:13).

As soon as he left the presence of the LORD the radiance began to fade away (see also Exodus 34:29-35). For the LORD to make his face shine upon us so that the radiance of his glory would not fade required a better covenant than the one made at Mount Sinai, one which would not merely restrain sin by external commandments but which would free us from our slavery to sin. It is only through this new covenant, of which Jesus is the mediator, that the veil is removed. God has indeed made his face to shine upon us through Jesus Christ, and, like Moses, we reflect the glory of His presence in us:

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 Corinthians 4:15-18).

But this surpassing glory of the new covenant remains hidden from those who refuse to believe.

…even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

Peter, James and John were privileged to witness the transfiguration where the glory of Christ, which was veiled behind his mortal flesh, was revealed: There Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2).

Later the apostle John was given a vision of Jesus risen and glorified:

His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:16-18).

And be gracious to you …

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin" (Exodus 34:5-7).

The grace of God is absolutely central to our faith. As Kevin Daly wrote, "whereas most religions propagate man's ascent to God, the Bible reveals God as the one who descends to man."3

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

After Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah, proclaiming himself to be the Messiah come to set his people free, it says, All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips (Luke 4:22).

The grace of God is freely available to all who humbly confess their sin and appeal to his unmerited kindness and mercy in Christ the Redeemer: O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you (Isaiah 30:20).

All are under the curse of sin and death. There is nothing that we can do to earn his gracious gift of life: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:1-9).

…the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18).

The LORD turn his face toward you …

"Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Peter 3:10-12).

Jesus said, "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…" (John 3:19-21).

If men turn away from the light and hide themselves from the Lord he, in turn, will hide his face from them. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isaiah 53:3). But if they draw near to the Lord he will draw near to them (James 4:8).

The Lord hides his face from sinners but he is always ready to extend his mercy and grace to those who seek Him: "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer (Isaiah 54:7-8).

When Moses wanted to see the LORD'S glory, the LORD said to him, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Exodus 33:18-20).

The face of God is revealed in Jesus Christ. He is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). But seeing his glory does indeed bring about death to the sinful nature. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him (1 John 3:6).

And give you peace …

…the punishment that brought us peace was upon him (Isaiah 53:5).

The Lord promised Israel peace and prosperity while they remained faithful to the covenant and trusted in Him: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3).

The absence of peace is a result of sin and unfaithfulness. Unbelievers remain under a curse because "There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked" (Isaiah 48:22). Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but he did not come to bring a worldly peace: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).

The Holy Spirit convicts the whole world of sin because they do not believe in Jesus Christ. Those who harden their hearts and refuse to believe cannot enter God's rest. The peace that we have in Christ is the peace of being reconciled to God first and foremost as well as with our brothers in Christ:

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:14-18).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

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Footnotes

1. "The seed of the woman," refers to the Messiah, who would not be the progeny of sinful man but would be conceived by the virgin through the Holy Spirit. Implicit in this prophecy is both his suffering (bruising) as well as his triumph over the evil one.

2. 'To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7).

3. God's revelation to Moses – the 13 attributes of God, MGN 4th Quarter 2006 p.10

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