The Lord directs us to look in his face and to enjoy his favor. That is what it means to seek his face (Psalm 27:8–9). That is what it means to have his face “shine upon us” (Numbers 6:25).
But the link between the face of God and the favor of God is not so obvious. We are aware of our sin, and conscious that the Lord sees and hears our private sins as well as our thoughts. We can think of the face of God more like mom walking into the kitchen at the moment we are stealing a cookie. We do not want the face of mom then.
But God says he sings and rejoices over his people (Zephaniah 3:14–17).
He sings over those for whom he has removed his judgements (verse 15).
He sings over a rebelling people, who have been restored.
He sings over a people who have no righteousness in themselves.
He sings over those who have every reason to fear the face of God, not desire it.
Close Your Eyes and Look
I once asked a congregation of people to close their eyes and imagine looking up in the face of our God. In that moment, I asked them what they saw. What was the mood of his face? What did his eyes speak to them? What was the tone of his voice?
It is clear that, for those who are in Christ, the Father has delight in them and sings over them. He loves to give Himself to them! But that is often not what we consider as we draw near.
I am always tempted to come looking at my own defiled life — or to come to "do something" or "get instructions."
But I do not think of coming to delight in and savor the favor of God purchased by His Son. Come to your Father through the Son and bask in his redeeming love. He is not waiting to tell you off. He is waiting to welcome you. He is not busy at his desk. He will not tell you to come back later.
It all reminds me of my wife, who in the midst of busy days, often says to me, "Look at me." She wants to see my eyes and for me to see hers. She delights in relationship. She does not want our lives to be only about tasks and doing. She wants us to see each other’s face with joy.
I think our God wants to us to look at Him — not to accomplish anything, but just to behold his beauty.