Friday, September 9, 2016

The Face Softener

As one who looks in the mirror and still sees dark brown hair, despite the ever-increasing number of silver strands, I'm more interested in face-softening products than ever before. I have a few favorites, but I'm not sure how effectively they hold off the ravages of time and sun.

(In case you're wondering, I do know how silver my hair has become, but I have the heart of a brown-haired girl, and I'm still claiming it.)

This morning, I saw an astounding bit of information in Daniel 9. Daniel had been studying the writings of Jeremiah, realized the during of the captivity was scheduled by God to be seventy years, and that the allotted years were almost up. 

It was nearly time to go home to Jerusalem.

There was one problem. The people hadn't repented. They'd been taken captive and made homes and built lives in the new land. 

They'd adjusted, but they hadn't changed.

If they were to go home, changed hearts were needed, so Daniel set about to do the work of repentance. He wasn't just confessing his own sins. Daniel repented on behalf of everyone.

Over and over, he used the phrase, "We had not obeyed." I read those words and prayed with him. "Our nation has not obeyed either, Lord. We, Your people, have not obeyed."

He went on to pray, "We have not sought your face..." There's a footnote next to this phrase that says, "softened the face of". The word used here is chalah and literally means a continuous rubbing that smooths a surface, removes rough edges, makes it shine.

There's a beautiful word picture tucked into this little phrase. When we sin and God "sets His face like flint" against us, in judgment and discipline, our genuine, humble repentance is as precious to God as a caress against His face. He responds to repentance by "softening" His face. The hardness smooths.

It's the kind of change that comes over a father when his much loved child runs up, grabs his leg, and says, "I love you, Daddy. I'm sorry I messed up." As parents, we know what we would do for that child. Smile. Bend down. Hold him tight. 

We would soften.

In that same way, God responds to our genuine repentance with face-softening of His own.

Like the exiled nation of Israel, we have piled sin upon sin. We haven't turned from our evil ways, and we, as a people, deserve any judgment God sends. 

But God...

God responds to humble, repentant hearts. If we humble ourselves, turn from our sin, and repent, He will not fail to respond. He will not fail to soften His face, and His heart.

Repentance softens more than God's face. It softens our face, too. But that's a topic for another day.

For this day, let's repent on behalf of a people who aren't willing to repent for themselves, just as Daniel did. Today, let's pray, with him, "We have not obeyed. We have not sought Your face. We have not asked you to forgive. But we do today." 

We deserve judgment. We deserve the consequences we are likely to reap, but it may be that our prayers will be the ones that soften His face toward our nation.

"As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth." Daniel 9:13 nasb
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Pagans, Persecution, and the Prayers that Saved a Nation
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD