Saturday 31 July 2021

Bible Book:

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 31 July 2021

Psalm 32


Today we are all very familiar with wearing face-coverings. Here is a facial veil at the heart of the Bible – a passage which becomes a formative image for the way that we experience God.

Today’s passage does not give a clear reason why Moses wears a veil, and it rules out some of the reasons we might assume. We might think it was to protect the people who initially were afraid of his glowing face, but in fact it is before he puts a veil on that they get over that and listen to Moses’ account of what the God had told him on the mountain (v. 31). We might also assume that it was to protect Moses when he speaks with God, but that is clearly not right as he removes the veil to speak with God, and to relay it to the people, and then he puts it on until the next time (verses 34-35). It seems the veil indicated that it was now Moses himself speaking and that he is no longer directly representing God.

This is an intriguing idea – when we are close to God our faces shine, and then when we tell people about this, that is when we can speak to people face to face, with the fullness of our humanity. When we are further from the experience of God and speaking more in our own strength, that is when distance and careful respect, like a veil, are required to avoid mistakes and problems.

When people worship in church gatherings, do they actually meet with the awesome holy God? Do we see people sharing stories of an encounter with God which lead into deep person-to-person encounters? Or do we spend too much time struggling to communicate with each other as if behind veils? The central point in the Exodus narrative of the covenant relationship between the holy Lord and the people of Israel is that it is ultimately the presence of God that makes the people who they are, shapes them into a healthy community, and enables them to become a people who walk God’s holy way and live God’s holy law.

To Ponder:

  • What aspects of the worship services that you experience help you to get closest to God?
  • How do you exercise care and restraint when communicating with others?

First published in 2018.

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