“Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (v. 29)

Exodus 34:29-35 Saturday 22 November 2014


Moses has been on Mount Sinai again for another 40 days andnights, receiving the renewed covenant. In loving kindness, God hasagreed to have mercy on Israel and renew the covenant and as a signof this restored covenant God has given new stone tablets with theten commandments written on them to replace those Moses smashed inhis anger. Moses has also been given ten further laws, governingritual purity and forms of worship, to guard against any furtheracts of betrayal of God by the people.

Spending so much time in the presence of God has an effect onMoses' physical appearance - his skin begins to shine; it was acommon ancient belief that glory in the form of light shone from adeity, and the suggestion here is that Moses' skin has absorbedsome of this glory, which now shines from him. In a similar way,Jesus' face shines in Matthew's account of the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2).

This powerful visual image is a metaphor for the transformingeffect of intimate relationship with God. But Moses did not know hehad been transformed (verse 29b), just as many of the holiestpeople demonstrate a humble unawareness of how they show God toothers.

However, for some it is too much - it seems that the Israeliteswere afraid of this sign of God's work in Moses, which is why hehad to put a veil over his face (verse 33). In the presence of God,however, Moses' face was unveiled - for God sees human beings asthey truly are in their very selves without masks or veils.

To Ponder

  • Do you know anybody who shines with the presence of God? Whatimpact have they made on you?
  • Have you had an experience of God knowing you intimately as youtruly are? How does that feel?

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