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When reading the crucifixion of Christ in Matthew 27:46, there is always one question that I asked. Why did the Father forsake His Son? Most commonly, the answer that is given is, "God is too pure to look upon sin." Because Christ became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), the prevailing idea is that the Father could not look upon Him, and had to hide His face. To me this answer seemed to encroach upon other established revelations of how the Father interacted with sinful man throughout earlier Scriptures. Did God hide from Adam and Eve immediately after they ate of the fruit? What about God revealing Himself to Moses in the burning bush? Moses didn't even know who Yahweh was, he had been in Egypt (sin) so long. What about Paul, slaughtering the followers of Christ in the streets, did Christ not call out to him directly?
It seemed to me like every account within the Scriptures where Yahweh interacted with us, there was no prior "forgiveness" rituals that needed to occur, in every case it was the Father initiating the first move. I then had to ask myself, where did this idea of God "hiding his face" come from?
"You who are of purer eyes than to see evil, and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?"
" but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear."
At this point it would seem inescapable to come to any other possible conclusions than that of what is being taught today. But I would offer that we must try and keep prior theological mindsets from preventing us from allowing the Scriptures to speak, interpret, and define itself. What other possible conclusions could there be? Well, since we are talking about God's sight, we have to ask what is it exactly Yahweh can and cannot see.
2 Chronicles 16:9
"For the eyes of [Yahweh] run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. "
“For His eyes are on the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps."
"[Yahweh] is in his holy temple; [Yahweh] is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; His eyes examine them."
"To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd."
"[Yahweh] looks down from heaven; He sees all the children of man; from where He sits enthroned He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds."
"For a man’s ways are before the eyes of [Yahweh], and He ponders all his paths."
"The eyes of [Yahweh] are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good."
"For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes."
"… great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds."
"And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
Yahweh's sight is able to encompass the entire earth, observe every person and creature, pierce even into the most evil heart, and is able to look at the iniquity of mankind. If we are to believe the Scriptures – that nothing is hidden from Yahweh – then to create a loophole to fit theology would be to break the Scriptures, and we know that the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:34 – 35). To hide something from Himself, even by His own Will, is by definition something hidden from Him. Scriptures make no exceptions to who does the "hiding", it merely states that nothing is hidden from Him, even sin. This is not to be confused with His forgiveness or forgetfulness of something.
In Isaiah 59:2 it says "but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." It should be noticed that Yahweh first makes it clear in 59:1 that His "hand is not shortened that it cannot save, or his ear dull that it cannot hear." He is not the one that is affected or weakened, we are the ones that have built up a wall and look away from His face, praying in the other direction. How can we expect a reply if we are not even speaking to Him for Him to hear? Israel had walked so far away from God's Teachings (Torah) that their turning away from God's ways placed His face at their back, they became deaf to the voice of God by abandoning the truth and justice (Isaiah 59:15) of His Teachings. Isaiah goes on to say that "Yahweh saw it, and [it was evil in His sight] that there was no justice." Brackets for original Hebrew*
Isaiah 59 was not stating that Yahweh had distanced Himself from Israel, or could no longer hear or see them because of their sins, but rather as indicated in Isaiah 59:1, He was proclaiming His power over there iniquities. From Isaiah 59:16 Yahweh exclaims His frustration at the fact that no one was interceding on behalf of the now wayward Israel, and proclaimed that it would be His own right arm that would eventually bring about their salvation.
Instead of Yahweh crying out against rampant evil and idle onlookers as in Isaiah 59, we now have in Habakkuk 1:13 a prophet watching from the other side. As Israel is being taken over by the Chaldeans, Habakkuk pleads to Yahweh, "why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent." Before asking this question, he describes Yahweh as being "of purer eyes than to see evil, and cannot look at wrong." If we seclude this one text from the rest of the context, we began making contradictions and thereby breaking the Scriptures through our theology. As we have noticed in previous Scriptures, Yahweh in fact does "see evil", even within this very verse we have a prophet stating that Yahweh is "looking" at what the traitors are doing. How can we have in one sentence Habakkuk stating that Yahweh is looking at evil, yet stating in the next sentence that He is too pure to do that? I would posit that we cannot.
Habakkuk 1:2 – 4
"O [Yahweh], how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you 'Violence!' and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted."
In the phrase in verse 13, "you are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong", the root word for look there is Nabat [Strongs: 5027], which is "a primitive root; to scan, i.e. Look intently at; by implication, to regard with pleasure, favor or care -- (cause to) behold, consider, look (down), regard, have respect, see."
In the ancient pictographic form the letters Nun (continue/perpetuate), Beyt (family/inside), and Tet (store/mud) gives the imagery of continually doing something and storing it within. The contents gathered and stored are being placed inside the family tent, which means it is something desired or favored. Much like the Bible states that the eyes are the windows to the soul, because in looking, the imagery is stored within ourselves. Re-examining the passage again, we can see why some translations render it differently.
"You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?" ~ ESV
"Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?" ~ NASB
We began to notice a trend arising between both prophets, we have one speaking from Yahweh's perspective, and we have another speaking from His children's perspective. Both are proclaiming Yahweh's Word as being set aside, and because of this, "justice goes forth perverted." The question being asked is "You see all the injustice that is going on among the earth, and to your people, what are you going to do about it?"
Even amidst the extreme departure from Yahweh's ways, it is His "own arm" that offers the hand of salvation and redemption to us. Because no man seeks after God (Romans 3:11), and Israel was unable to keep their covenant with Yahweh, He could not sit idly by and let His name be profaned (Ezekiel 39:7), He is the God of justice and mercy.
In Psalms 22, David prophetically envisioned the death of the Messiah from the eyes of Yeshua (Jesus). He described everything with such great detail so that when the time came, those who would be watching the events take place, would not lose heart at the sight of their Messiah being put to death. They would understand what was happening and that results would make Yahweh's name known among the nations.
Yeshua, in His very final breaths of life yelled the only words that He could muster. In His final minutes, experiencing the greatest torture any human could imagine, the prophetic words of David were on His mind. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Reciting His Fathers promises found in verses 24, as they were being fulfilled in Him right then, “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.” Indeed, the Father heard His cry, and Yeshua gave up His final breath.
In our deepest, darkest times of human testing, it often feels like our sins have pushed the Father away from us. Feeling so alone and scared, we can't help but ask "why have you forsaken me?" Even in Yeshua's deepest moments of anguish, He couldn't help but experience what sin makes us feel like. He cried out for His Father, and Yahweh did not hesitate in responding. Though sin may make us feel as if the Father is far away from us, unable to hear us, we must always remember that our Heavenly Father's love for us never fails. He will never abandon those who are in true covenantial relationship with Him, all you have to do is cry out to Him, and He will answer.