It was the practice of the Hasidic teachers in Judaism to find lessons, Torah, in everyday life. Reminders of the Lord in creation. They learned Torah (instruction), not only from books, but everywhere.
Upon waking, His mercy. Before food, His provision. From rain, His grace. In joy, His Spirit. Walking along the way, His direction. In relationship, His forgiveness. In anger, His justice. In business, His righteousness.
From trains, godliness in punctuality. From clocks, the value of time, and therefore life itself. In trees, rocks, gardens, cities, everywhere the eye could see, they found Torah, a lesson, about God.
Whether in the mountains, the valleys, or on the plains, He is there. He is ever with us, and by faith, we recognize His presence.
When the Bible uses the word “presence,” it is not implying a mystical experience, but a personal one. In Psalm 16:11 we find one expression of this:
שֹׂבַע שְׂמָחוֹת אֶת־פָּנֶיךָ
“In Your presence is full joy,” or “full joy in the presence of Your face.”
Two words in the Hebrew Scriptures are used to express presence. The usual, as in Psalm 16:11, is פָּנִים/panim, face. The other is עַיִן/ayin, eye.
How do you know when you are really present with someone? You are close to their face, and you see into their eyes. There you experience their presence, breath, aroma, and life.
In Isaiah 6:3 the angels declare:
מְלֹא כָל־הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדֽוֹ
“All the earth is full of Your glory,” כָּבוֹד/kavod: glory, weight, presence. Yet, this is impersonal. It is a statement of fact. So what do we learn?
The Hasidic teachers would say that the impersonal, factual reality of the Lord’s presence, kavod, will lead us, if we have eyes to see, to the experience of beholding His face and eyes, His countenance, everywhere as He personally abides with us as Emmanuel – God with, among, within us (Jn. 15:4; cf. Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14).
As Paul tells us, creation reveals His invisible qualities (Ro. 1:20), yet we must go deeper, further, personal, and to His face (Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11, 18, 19-20; cf. Ex. 24:10-11).
In Messiah we have the assurance of that personal encounter, and promise to see Him everywhere. As Yeshua said in John 12:45, “And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.”
Taking our theology to the streets means, in everyday life, to be mindful that we are, in fact, in His presence, before His face, seeing Him eye to eye. Learning to see His Word and promise in creation, everywhere, putting it into action. Not just an echo of His glory around us, but that personal knowledge of the One we know, and who knows us.
Be well. Shalom.