It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34:29-30)
Moses, the great Lawgiver, was many times found in the presence of God. Yes, we understand that Moses (nor any living person) could ever, as it were, look God in the eye and see Him face to face. And yet, as much as it is humanly possible, Moses did indeed many times speak face to face with God (cf. Exodus 33:11 where it is made abundantly clear!).
So great was the shining of Moses’ face that it could not be looked upon by even Aaron the High Priest. Certainly there was something of the Lord’s own presence and awesomeness in the appearance of a man who’d been in such close proximity the God.
This amazes us in much the same way as God’s comments on His fellowship with Enoch (cf. Genesis 5:21-24). In a world rapidly filling with sin and unbelievers, how could Enoch remain so pure? How could he develop such a kinship with the Lord that he would walk with him for over three centuries? And what must his face, indeed his whole bodily form, been like from being so close to the Almighty for so long?
And yet none of God’s people today seem to “glow” as it were with the presence of God. For that matter, none of us seem to even be compared to an angel in appearance as Stephen was (cf. Acts 6:15). So, have we failed God?
Before you feel like a failure, re-read Acts 4:5-14. Peter and John are confronted by High Priests along with many of the other scholars, elders and teachers. They were amazed that “uneducated and untrained men” (by their standards of scholarship and training – cf. verse 13) were so filled with God’s Spiritual wisdom that the intelligent of earthly status were unable to answer them.
Paul would point out to us in 1 Corinthians 1:25: Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God’s real glory may well be missed by the world.
Now note Paul’s connection for us: Now if the ministry of death, engraved in letters on stones, came with such glory that the Israelites were unable to gaze steadily into the face of Moses due to the glory of his face, fading as it was, (8) how much more glorious will be the ministry of the Spirit? (9) For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, how much more will the ministry of righteousness exceed it in glory! (10) For indeed, what had been glorious, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. (11) For if what was fading away came with glory, how much more will that which is permanent be filled with glory. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)
Did you catch the lesson? The ministry, the work of God’s Spirit in us (fulfilling the Great Commission! Cf. Matthew 28:19-20 and 1 Peter 2:9) actually makes us much more glorious than Moses. And our glory will never fade away (cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5).
No, we may not have faces that glow with a blinding light, nor should anyone mistake us for an angel. But if the presence of the Lord is within us and we are filled with His word should the world not see a difference in our lives? Should not the world marvel and take note of us that we have been with Jesus as it once did the Apostles?
We are specifically called to BE the light of the world and to be careful that our lights are not hidden (cf. Matthew 5:14-16). We are challenged to PROVE ourselves as children of God in this wicked world and we are seen as those lights by that world if we are faithful to our calling (cf. Philippians 2:14-16).