It was a time of great spiritual awakening. A genuine time of revival and renewal. The Psalmist says that men were seeking the face of God, and they were seeking His face in a very special, specific way. They were searching for the face that illuminated Jacob’s face when He had his great encounter with God. Where exactly was that? At Peniel – the place where he had his third vision of God. Remember? Jacob had seen the Lord in His power at Bethel and in His providence at Mahanaim, but it was at Peniel that He saw the Lord in His personal presence. Jacob came face to face with the Living God and the light of the Lord’s face fell on Jacob’s.
It was the closest that finite man had ever come to the Infinite God. It was even nearer than Adam’s view in the garden, because that vision came in the cool of the day – before the struggle. This encounter came in the very heat of the burden and the struggle. Adam looked on in innocence, but this was the view of victorious virtue. You see, it is something to see God when your heart is young, when the fragrance and flowers of the garden are all around. It is another thing to see Him when the heart is aged and the heat has wilted the petal. To see the Lord’s face in the brutal desert, not in the beautiful garden – that’s well worth a generation’s diligent, fervent search. That is Jacob’s communion.
It may sound odd, but I long to possess a face like Jacob’s – one where others can see that I have seen the Lord face to face. Jacob struggled with God, and bore the traces of the struggle in his body afterwards – lameness in his hip, but light on his face. It was evident. So much so that an entire generation sought it too. Why? For their glory? No, for God’s. Did they seek it so that they might draw men to themselves? No, but that men might be drawn to Him.
That’s why I long to have a face like Jacob’s – so that it can be carried for His cause, and can be held for His glory. I don’t pray for it because it has the power to shine on me, but rather because of its power to show I’ve been with Him. I would have Jacob’s face so that like a magnet it would draw men to the Lord. I would that it would be most seen in those times of my weakness and struggle so that it would be evident that it didn’t belong to me. I would like for it to be seen by all as something that was above me and thus available to every man. I wish that those in the struggle could see and know that the Lord has a beauty in every flower that’s faded; could know that He has a garment of praise for all those with a heavy spirit and that they could understand that there is no lovelier light than that which comes in the evening. That’s why I seek to have a face like Jacob’s, because Jacob saw the face of God.