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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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Moses begs of God to show him his face, or to manifest his glory; he replies, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee," and I will proclaim my name; "but my face thou canst not see; for there shall no man see it and live!" The persuasion was very prevalent in the world, that no man could support the sight of Deity, Genesis 16:13 ; Genesis 32:30 ; Exodus 20:19 ; Exodus 24:11 ; Judges 6:22-23 . We read that God spake mouth to mouth with Moses, even apparently, and not in dark speeches, Numbers 12:8 ; "The Canaanites have heard that thou art among thy people, and seen face to face," Numbers 14:14 . God talked with the Hebrews "face to face out of the midst of the fire," Deuteronomy 5:4 . All these places are to be understood simply, that God so manifested himself to the Israelites, that he made them hear his voice as distinctly as if he had appeared to them face to face; but not that they actually saw more than the cloud of glory which marked his presence. The face of God denotes sometimes his anger: "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil." "As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish before the face of God," Psalms 68:2 . To turn the face upon any one, especially when connected with the light or shining of the countenance, are beautiful representations of the divine kindness and condescension. To regard the face of any one, is to have respect of persons, Proverbs 28:21 . The Apostle, speaking of the difference between our knowledge of God here and in heaven, says, "Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face," 1 Corinthians 13:12 ; by which he shows the vast difference between our seeing or knowing God and divine things by an imperfect revelation to faith, and by direct vision. This observation of the Apostle is rendered the more striking, when it is recollected that the Roman glass was not fully transparent as ours, but dull and clouded. Of this, specimens may be seen in the glass vessels taken out of Pompeii.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Face'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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