Fell flat on his face

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When we say “I fell flat on my face” we’re usually speaking figuratively.

e.g. “I tried to impress the girl with my scant knowledge of Italian arias.  Turns out, she’s a classical soprano.  I fell flat on my face!”

We use the phrase to indicate embarrassment.  But in the bible, falling on one’s face is always literal.  And there are very different ways of doing it, as we’ll see.

To fall flat on one’s face happens just the once in the King James translation – Numbers 22:31.  But that’s the phrase that has really stuck with us – perhaps because of its alliteration.

Balaam is the one to have fallen flat on his face.  And in his case, embarassment is entirely justified.

As we saw yesterday, he has just been rebuked by his own donkey.  Then…

the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.”  (Num 22:31)

Here is a revelation of Christ – the Angel of the LORD.  He’s the same one who met Abraham in Genesis 17, Moses in Exodus 3, Joshua in Joshua 5, Isaiah in Isaiah 6, Peter in Luke 5, Paul in Acts 9 and John in Revelation 1.

On all these occasions, they felt an overwhelming weight of glory, their knees gave way and they fell flat on their faces.

For Balaam it was a shaming.  For those listed above, it was worship.  But everyone falls when Christ is revealed in glory.

There are those who walk tall in this life but have no love for Jesus.  They will be brought low.

There are those who are down at heel in this life yet trust in Christ.  They will fall in wonder and be lifted in mercy.

On that day the bible says we’ll all be flat on our faces – some to everlasting shame, others to everlasting joy and gratitude.

at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

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