Moses had certain privileges that most men cannot enjoy on this earth. He was able to spend enormous amounts of time in God’s holy presence, and these seasons of personal communion had a dramatic effect on him and his neighbors. One such account is presented in Exodus 34:
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. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exodus 34:29-35)
As Moses spent time communing with God atop Mount Sinai, his face began to glow. His character was changed, but so too was his countenance. The special radiance of God — presented at the burning bush, witnessed every night in the pillar of fire, and seen atop the sacred mountain — was now highlighting Moses’ face. He had been in the Holy of Holies, meditating with God, and the glory of the Lord gave witness to this fact.
However, everyone must leave their prayer closet or descend the mountain of God, and time came for Moses to re-enter the neighborhood. So there went Moses, descending Mount Sinai with the Ceremonial and Civil Laws in one hand, the Moral Laws in the other, and on his face the glow of God. It was magnificent to behold; nothing like this had ever been seen on man. It was fearful; just as Moses was hesitant to approach the bush, and the elders were timid in their approaching of God’s mountain, so Israel was fearful to meet with their minister. However, it was also fading; over time, the glorious glow of God upon the face of Moses began to decrease as Moses’ time apart from God increased.
Some might think this was “no big deal!” But that was not Moses’ assessment of the situation. He mourned over the fading glory of God on his face. So what did he do? Because he wished not for his friends to see the fading glory, Moses wore a veil until he could enjoy his next visit with God. Then, for a time following his season of communion, his friends and neighbors were allowed to see his recharged face again.
Friends, on this earth, we cannot expect to enjoy the exact experience of Moses. However, we can have a similar experience. Since we are God’s Temple — his Holy of Holies — we can commune with him day or night. Everywhere we go, there he is. And we can have sweet and intimate experiences with him reading his Word, learning his will, and communicating to him with prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. And while our faces will not change color, our external countenance will be adjusted. We will be seen as men and women who rejoice always and are content. Where fear is expected, courage will be seen. Instead of being depressed and downcast, even in our suffering we will display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We will celebrate like none other, and when we mourn, we will not mourn as those without hope. Our eyes will not be glancing at the floor or our navel, but will be looking about hoping for an opportunity to express God’s grace to the needy. Our teeth will not be cliched, but our mouths will be pleasantly pouring forth words of kindness and love. And our head will be held high, not in arrogance, but in confident humility. Yes friends, like Moses, as we spend more and more time with God, our visage should be highlighted and improved.
But frankly, some of us need to put a veil over our faces. Like Moses, we need to realize it has been quite some time since we have been with God on the mountain. Like Moses, we need to sense the glory is departing. And like Moses, we need to mourn the passing and decreasing glory of God seen on our faces and in our lives. Yes, some of our faces preach messages like, “God is dead; All you people need to worship me; There is no purpose; and The sky is falling.” Some of us show no evidence that we have been with the Father. We need to put a bag over it, or a veil, until we can spend some private time doing business with God.
So let us learn from Moses’ example. Let us lust for our next visit with God, and then let us be excited that his glory might shine upon us and through us. Then, let us be careful not spend too much time away from him. For it doesn’t take long for the glory to fade.