“’No, please!’ said Jacob.
‘If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me.
For to see your face is like seeing the face of God,
now that you have received me favorably.'”
Genesis 33:10 (NIV)
Jack Shepherd was my Sunday School teacher in the late 1950’s. At the time I was actively evil and he knew it. His son Victor was a good buddy of mine during those years. Unbeknown to me Jack was concerned about his son hanging out with Gordon Rumford.
Every Sunday in church Jack Shepherd would talk to me and show a sincere interest in my welfare. I admired him greatly. So wonderfully did he influence me that one day when I was planning the robbery of a small community store the Lord put an arresting thought into my mind.
The Lord asked me, “What would you think if Jack Shepherd learned that you were arrested by the police and charged with theft?” Immediately I got up, excused myself from my criminally minded friends, and left the house. If there was anyone in the world that I wished to think well of me—it was my beloved Sunday School teacher.
It was only many years later that my friend Victor Shepherd told me about his father’s concern over our friendship. It amazed me that this quiet gentle man could relate so kindly to me when at the same time he feared my influence on his son. Truly when I looked into the face of that man I was “seeing the face of God”.
The context for today’s verse is the scene where Jacob had just reunited with his brother after many years absence from each other. Jacob had acted evilly toward his brother and robbed him of his inheritance. Coming back to meet Esau his brother he was very fearful. However Esau forgave his Jacob and received him wholeheartedly. In this warm welcome Esau acted in a godly manner. He received the repentant sinner back into the family.
While we are still actively evil, God makes gentle and loving gestures toward us. He sends Christians into our lives to behave in a godly manner and exhibit the qualities of a redeeming God. We are given warnings about our sinful ways; we hear the message of forgiveness in Jesus; the Holy Spirit prompts us to believe the message of Jesus; the Holy Spirit causes us to feel guilty before a holy God.
All these things the Lord does while we still oppose Him and are openly defiant of His law. Do you not see the grace of God that leads you to repentance today? Has the Lord not sent a Jack Shepherd into your life to behave like Jesus so that you can “see the face of God” in their lives? Turn to the Jesus these precious people imitate. Rid yourself of any pride and humble yourself. Confess your sin and embrace the Lord. Today may you see the face of God.