“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11)
To enjoy God’s friendship, Moses sought God, he then allowed God to speak into his life, and then thirdly, Moses also yielded his will to God. This idea is imbedded in the words “face to face”.
These words do not literally mean Moses saw God’s actual face for just a few verses later in the passage, God tells Moses, in verse 20 – “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” The words have to do rather with Moses’ submission to God. How so?
“Face to face” are intimacy words. To be “face to face” with someone means you are fully attentive to them, fully devoted to them, fully available to them. You’re waiting on their every move.
I’m still trying to break myself of this bad habit I’ve gotten into with Janis of talking to her on the run. We’ll be in the kitchen, we start talking, then I remember something in the living room I need to get, and I’ll buzz out of the room. “Keep talking,” I’ll say, looking back to her, though I’m walking the other way.
What a mixed message! “I’m listening! I value you! You’re important to me!” even though my back is turned, and I’m walking out on her.
Israel did this with God. In Jeremiah 2:27 God rebukes his people for their compromising and backsliding. He says to them, “They have turned their backs to me and not their faces.”
Here’s Israel keeping one eye on God, while she’s walking the other way. This is what religious people do. They’ve got one foot in the kingdom, and one foot out. But God is not fooled by such half-heartedness.
If you want God’s friendship, then you must go face to face with God. Hebrews 12:2 summons us to fix our eyes on Jesus. You must be fully attentive, fully devoted, fully available. No resistance, no pulling back or going in a separate direction. Your gaze is riveted on God and what he wants is what you want.
Read these words aloud right now from Psalm 123:1-2. “I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God till he shows us his mercy.” Make this the prayer of your heart today.