Exodus 34:29-35. 29 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. 30 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. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.
34 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, 35 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.
In Moses we see the goal of humanity. Living face to face with God. Radiating his glory.
In Moses we see our present reality in Jesus Christ. Living face to face with God. Radiating his glory.
Moses comes back down from his second 40 days on Mount Sinai. The covenant has been renewed and literally re-written on new tablets of stone. But what Moses doesn’t know is that he is glowing. Light is radiating out from his face like “horns of light.” It’s such a disturbing sight that many of the people run away and have to be called back.
God has not only restored Moses, he has elevated him. Moses has been glorified. And it wasn’t the Sinai Covenant that glorified him. It was hearing the name of the Lord (34:6-7). It was seeing God’s glory, not in the Old Covenant but in the gospel of God as the one who forgives every sin and yet punishes every sin. The glory of God on the mountain is the glory of his grace.
The great truth of our union with Christ is that we are defined by who we are, not by what we do. God cares way more about who you are becoming today than he cares about the sum total of your good and bad actions. He’s not keeping score. This is why your moral efforts, rule keeping, and guilt induced behavior modification don’t matter to God. Because they don’t actually change you.
Only one thing can change us. Only one thing can transform who we are (and then what we do). And that one thing is beholding the glory of God. And it WILL change you. We all become what we behold. We are all transformed into the thing that we worship.
Eve radiates glory…but there’s a learning curve too.
When we behold the glory of God we become the glory of God. We become like Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:18. 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. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
In 2 Corinthians Paul uses Exodus 34 to describe our lives in Christ. What we have is superior even to what Moses experienced coming off the mountain. We have the New Covenant written on our hearts. We are a living letter from God.
2 Corinthians 3:3. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
God has changed our hearts from stone to flesh. He has once for all time changed the nature of our hearts (who we are in Christ) so that he can progressively change the impulses of our hearts (Christ living out of us). Our desire is now for Christ and his love by his grace alone. Just as Moses removed the veil over his face when he entered the presence of God, in Christ our hearts are unveiled.
2 Corinthians 3:16-17. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Unlike the Hebrews, we are able to behold the glory of God without running away in fear. How? Because in Christ we are free! Free from the ministry of condemnation of the Law. And free unto the ministry of righteousness found in Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:7-9. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.
When you are free from the Law’s ministry of condemnation, free from earning, free from score keeping, free from being defined by your actions, free from the fear of death, free from shame and guilt, free from fear of judgment, free from living from the knowledge of good and evil, when you are free from all of this, you are now free unto the ministry of righteousness. Holiness through beholding the glory of God, not obeying the commandment of God. Righteousness through worship, not morality. Transformation into Christ likeness through grace, not law.
It is this freedom found in the gospel that causes us to desire Christ so that we want to behold him. And it is this beholding of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6) that transforms us from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).
The law says “you cannot see my face and live.” But “to live is Christ” says “behold the glory of God in the face of your Savior Jesus.” In Christ we see the glory of God’s holy justice and mercy in destroying all of our sin without destroying us. That’s a transforming vision! That’s the light of the glory of God that now our lives can radiate as we live from the freedom of his glorious grace.
‘Cause when everything is unraveling
Your glory will forever be around