“Found you!” squealed my three-year old as, with much glee, she pulled back the sheet that I’d been hiding under. My kids loving playing hide and seek – perhaps it’s the anticipation of waiting to be found or the actual looking for where we might be hiding that makes it such a thrill. What isn’t any fun, however, is if the person who you’re looking for stays hidden…
He will “hide [His] face” from our people.
This week’s parasha, Vayeilekh is very short and deals with only one chapter. Joshua is appointed to succeed Moshe who will not make it into the Promised Land. But Joshua’s commissioning is not especially encouraging – God tells him that shortly after the people enter the Land they will forsake Him and worship foreign Gods. In the midst of God’s speech to Joshua, He informs him that on that day, He will “hide [His] face” from our people. This is not a fun game of hide and seek – God turning His face from us meant total abandonment to our destructive ways of living that we’d chosen. God wasn’t going to hide Himself in a way that He could be found, like I hide from my children. He was effectively saying, that if our ancestors continued to reject His love, care and instruction, then He was going to give them over to what they wanted and He was going to turn away.
Sadly, it came to this, as we can read in the Tanakh. In multiple passages, God tells us that He had to hide His face (see Micah 3:4 and Ezek. 39:23 for examples) from us because of all the evil that we’d done. And yet perhaps the most famous and certainly the most intriguing mention of a face being hidden is found in Yeshayahu/Isaiah 53:3. Except that God is not the one hiding His face. We’re hiding our faces – from the Messiah.
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is perhaps the clearest depiction of the Messiah in the Tanakh. Despite modern claims that the text speaks of us Jewish people as a whole, ancient interpreters and translations understood it to be talking about the Messiah (see for example Targum Yonathan/Jonathan on this passage). In the passage we are shown the figure of a man who is total rejected by our people, so much so that we can’t even bear to look at him – we hide our faces from him (see 53:3). Why? Because we thought that he had been rejected by God and was suffering for his own wrong doing. And yet the prophet makes it clear that He was suffering on our behalf: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (verse 5) When Yeshua died for all of our wrongdoing that day, he took on himself the penalty that we should have paid. Indeed, on that day, God hid His face again – not from us, but from Yeshua. On the cross the Messiah suffered God’s rejection in order that we might have the chance to be accepted again. As Yeshayahu further states in his description of the Messiah: “By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (verse 11) Now that our wrongdoing has been paid for by the Messiah, God can look at us again.
Indeed, God longs to be found by us. If we’re willing to turn to Him and seek Him, if we’re willing to acknowledge that we’ve been wrong and need His forgiveness, if we’re willing to accept what the Messiah Yeshua did for us, He promises to reveal Himself to us. Yeshua himself says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matti/Matthew 7:7-8)
As we approach Yom Kippur and start thinking about wrong that we’ve done over the year and as many wonder whether God will forgive them, it’s a good time to realise that the Messiah has already brought about this forgiveness for us. All that’s left is for us to take it on board. God Himself pleads with us: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 55:6-7.
Are you still playing hide and seek with God? He longs for you to come to Him and be found by Him. Find Him today!
Hide and Seek