Today we’re jumping back to Moses and his second 40 days on Mount Sinai with God. If you remember back to chapter 32 and the golden calf situation, Moses had received two stone tablets which contained the Law of God, written by God himself. However, in a fit of anger over the people’s sin, Moses broke the tablets. Remember, even though Moses was a great leader and an example for us today, he wasn’t perfect. Therefore, God commanded Moses to re-climb the mountain and rewrite the two tablets for the Israelites.
So Moses ascends Mount Sinai for another encounter with God. During this second 40 days with God, Moses rewrites the Ten Commandments, witnesses the glory of God, and listens as God reestablishes His covenant with the Israelites. While this was an epic experience and worth reading, we are not going to discuss it here since most of it is a repeat from what God did the first time around. However, I would encourage you to read the account for yourself in Exodus 34.
We are going to pick up the story after the 40 days on Mount Sinai. Moses just spent over a month with God, without food and without water. This time, his descent down the mountain is not met with debauchery, but rather, a people patiently waiting for Moses’ word from God. However, the Israelites were not prepared for what they would see when Moses returned from his encounter with Glory.
“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.”
Moses’ face was glowing. However, it wasn’t a subtle glow like the ones you see on the faces of expectant mothers. The Hebrew word used for shone literally means to “shoot out horns.” It was a blatant, other-worldly type of glow. Moses had rays of light shooting forth from his face. You could imagine why the Israelites were afraid to approach him.
While this may sound really weird, there is an important lesson here for us that we cannot miss.
Moses’ countenance reflected his intimacy with God. Everyone knew when Moses had been with God. It was obvious by his shining face. And this shining countenance didn’t just occur this one time. The Bible tells us that every time Moses entered the presence of God, his face would shine. It was such a recurrent thing and so disconcerting to the Israelites that Moses had to cover his face when he was in public so as not to scare the people. But at the same time, everyone in the Israelite camp knew when Moses had been with God. One look at his face would let everyone know this man had beheld the glory of God.
So the question and application for us is: does our countenance reflect God’s glory? Can people see Jesus on our faces? Is it obvious that we spend time with God? Would one look at our faces tell people that we are different from others in the world?
At the time of the Exodus, only Moses was allowed to behold God’s glory. He was the only one allowed to speak with God. No one else was able to go near. No one else could have a shining face. However, under the blood of Jesus, everything has changed. Paul specifically uses this situation with Moses to show how we, as adopted sons and daughters, have access and ability to behold the glory of God. And not only do we have access to God and the opportunity to experience what Moses did, but we have something even better. We are able to not only behold the glory of God but to become transformed into the likeness of God one piece at a time. Paul writes:
“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. … And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” ~2 Corinthians 3:12-13, 18a
Moses covered up is shining face since it was his exclusively. No one could share it with him, so he veiled his face and hid the reflection of the glory of God from the people. However, Paul tells us that everyone in Christ can behold the Lord’s glory, and therefore, we don’t need to hide the effect it has on us. Rather, we should share it and show the world what could be theirs if they came to Jesus. Furthermore, the more we behold God’s glory, the more we will be changed and become more like our Savior. Therefore, let us confidently enter the presence of God and seek to be touched by Glory.
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