THE LIGHT OF GOD’S COUNTENANCE
“They shall walk O Lord, in the light of your countenance.
Rejoice all day long; and in your righteousness shall they be exalted.” (Psalm 89: 15-18)
The pious ones of the Old Testament, sang these words with great joy and exultation probably without knowledge of their wonderful meaning. That the Light of the countenance of God which Holy Scripture expresses was delightful to those of old is understandable because that Light is the Son and Logos of God which bears a relation as does our countenance in relation to our souls. Our souls are invisible and communication is accomplished by our countenance, which includes our eyes, mouth, cheeks, also our hands, voice and various expressions. For through our body we are able to express what we will from our souls. The countenance of God is living and expresses what He expresses so the countenance of man is also living and expresses what our souls will to express.
No man has seen the Father, but the Son and Logos, who as the light of His countenance expresses all that the Father expresses, hence Christ says: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” When the Son communicates with us, He expresses what the Father expresses. The Lord says: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). All the words and teaching of the Lord which come from the Father, need to be imprinted in our minds and hearts that we may engage and combat our enemies who seek to destroy our souls. For there always exists a war of good against evil, and of truth against falsehood. The present world is a battleground and only those who are victorious will prevail. But if we fail to even to engage in the battle it becomes impossible to become victorious.
The divine light of God’s countenance shines on and illumines us and brings extreme joy into our spirits and happiness into our souls, and there is nothing else that exists that can gladden our souls like the light of Father’s countenance, who is Jesus Christ. When the Virgin Mary was informed that she would bear the Light of the countenance of the Father, she being filled with the Light of His countenance cried out: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
The soul undergoes complete satisfaction and is always filled with great joy when the light of God the Father’s countenance shines therein. That light being our Lord and Savior Christ will never diminish or leave us if we love Him and strive to keep His commandments and do His will. But if we find that His light does not at the present time shine in our souls, then we need to take action and confess our sins and start again, first byabandoning sins and transgressions, striving to do only good and avoiding all evil. Then the light of His countenance will immediately shine brightly illuminating our souls filling them with comfort and joy. Through her holy birthgiving, the Light of the Father’s countenance will shine throughout the world, and He would form many other lights among men.
We Orthodox Christians are extremely blessed because the light of His countenance shines brilliantly throughout our holy Church, enlightening and guiding those who in faith and love follow our Holy Faith. The divine Light declares himself saying: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Whoever fails to follow Christ the light, walks in darkness, and if he does not become enlightened by that divine light while in this world, that light will in the future life will expose his darkened soul and leave him condemned because he chose to remain in this world’s darkness, rather than in the light of God’s countenance.
Another source of interior light which man possesses is the conscience which is the voice of our Creator. Think about this. The conscience of every man never fails to speak to him urging him to repent, cease acts of wickedness, and fruitless behavior. The conscience also urges many good and enlightening things for us to accomplish. When we fail to heed our consciences, its voice seems to grow weaker. When we only disregard our consciences we sin and may fall into many errors which dull the voice of conscience. For example there is a law against theft, and our conscience disapproves with our plan to steal. This is not our own voice or what we have learned, for conscience belongs to every man, being the voice of God within our spirit. If we heed this voice, we will not steal and our conscience will show approval in our souls.
When the Logos became incarnate, He enlightened the race of man, being the Light of the Father’s countenance. Although the Old Covenant speaks of the “Light of your countenance”, it did not shine brightly in the world until that light became incarnate of the Virgin and became the Godman. As Orthodox Christians we are very blessed to have this divine Light from heaven shining in our souls and in our churches, enlightening our path toward everlasting life.
Christ, the Light of His Father’s countenance, shines brightly in the souls of those who with sincere faith worship Him as both God and man–the Godman! “They shall walk in the light of your countenance; Rejoice all day long; and in your righteousness shall they be exalted.”