Face to FaceJanuary 10, 2012 - 5:00 am
“Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.” —Deuteronomy 34:10
In our world of instant communication, it is not uncommon to have a business relationship with another person through email or over the phone — without ever seeing that person face to face. And then, when you do get the opportunity to meet him or her, it’s a wonderful thing to finally put a “face” to that voice or the emails!
It was true back in Bible times as well. There were many great prophets — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Amos, and others — but none who saw God face to face. That level of intimacy was achieved by only one human in all the Bible — Moses.
Even God noted that special relationship in reprimanding Aaron and Miriam for criticizing Moses in Numbers 12:6–8: “When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; . . . . With him I speak face to face.”
That is why we Jews make a distinction between the revelation given to Moses — the Torah —and that given to the other prophets. We consider the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, including the Law and the Ten Commandments) as divine revelation, given directly from God to Moses, His exact words. But the prophecies given to men such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, although divinely inspired¸ were not God’s direct words, but general themes recorded in the prophet’s words. So while the themes that Isaiah, for example, treated were, in fact, conveyed to him by God, the precise words Isaiah used were his own.
Imagine knowing God face to face! What a tremendous privilege for a man who initially balked at being sent to Pharaoh because he was not a good speaker. Despite Moses’ reluctance, God was able to use him and transform him from a shy, stuttering shepherd into a national leader. And Moses never forgot the One who enabled him to lead a nation from slavery to freedom.
Throughout his life, Moses’s love, respect, and awe of God grew daily. And because of that, God was pleased to call Moses “friend”: “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11).
We may never see God face to face this side of heaven. But we can know Him through His word. We can speak to Him through prayer. And we can experience His great love and mercy as we come before Him humbly seeking His will and purpose for our lives.
Some day we will be able to put a “face” to the great name of God — and that will be a wonderful thing!