THE AARONIC BLESSINGS (Num. 6:24–26)
The most famous blessing of the Old Testament is the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6. Here, the Lord, through Moses, gives to Aaron the blessing that he will use to bless the children of Israel. This blessing inspired the hope in many that God’s people would be able to see his face. This became a mystical quest in the medieval era – the beatific vision. And it drives many modern Christians to haphazardly urge one another to “look to Jesus,” without any real understanding of what that might mean.
THE MAN OF YOUR RIGHT HAND (Psalm 80)
Asaph, the psalmist, picks up on this idea of God’s favor being revealed by God’s face shining on you. If his face shines on you, then you will be saved. In this Psalm we see a few more things revealed about what will happen when God’s face shines. First, it will happen when God returns to his people. And you will know when God returns to his people, because his people will return (repent) to God. Second, it will happen when the hand of God is on the man of his right hand, the Son of Man, made strong to save by the power of God himself. And lastly, the result will be the shining of the face of God and the salvation of God’s people.
UNVEILED FACES (2 Cor. 3:18-4:6)
Paul explains that it is in Christ that the veil is taken away and the glory of God is seen by God’s people in the shining face of Jesus Christ (Mat. 17:2). This is the message that Christmas announces (Is. 9:2). And it is why Christmas should be celebrated with lights everywhere.
Paul makes clear that the beatific vision is something that happens in the heart of the believer. You see the shining face of Christ when you come to God in faith. As Psalm 80 teaches, you come to God with a divinely prompted repentance, he reveals Christ in your heart, and you experience his tremendous salvation. And this light you carry about in your heart, like one of Gideon’s earthen pots, carrying the torch inside that announces the victory of Christ’s army.