Veiled Face, Unveiled Face
When Moses finished speaking with them, he covered his face with a veil.
After Moses’ encounter with the Lord on Mt. Sinai, in which the Lord showed himself to Moses and revealed the depth of his character, Moses remained on the mountain for forty days. During this time he continued to be “with the Lord” (34:28). When Moses descended from the mountain, his face was radiant. It was as if God’s own glory had permeated Moses, leaving behind the glow of his divine presence. This frightened the Israelites, who were afraid to approach Moses (34:30). This may be one reason why he began to cover his face with a veil (34:33). But when Moses entered the Tent of Meeting in order to speak with the Lord, he would remove his veil. Emerging from the Tent, Moses left the veil off while he passed on the people what God had said to him. Then he would put back the veil (34:34-35).
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul refers to this story from Exodus in order to explain the wonder of our relationship with God through Christ. Through him, the veil that keeps us from knowing God is removed (3:16). Thus we find ourselves rather like Moses, able to know God intimately and even to reflect his glory: “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (3:18). What an amazing statement! Not only are we able, through Christ, to see God’s glory, but also we can reflect this glory to others. In fact, God is in the process, through the Spirit, of changing us into his own image.
You and I won’t see the Lord face-to-face in a literal way until the new creation comes in full (1 Cor. 13:12), but we can “see” God clearly and intimately through Christ and through the work of the Spirit in our hearts. This experience of knowing God truly transforms us. We become reflectors of his glory in our lives, through our words and deeds. The more we grow in Christ, the more we will “glow” with God’s own glory. Thus, as Jesus said, we will be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When have you “seen” God most vividly? In what ways has God’s glory illuminated you? How can you reflect his glory in your world today?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, I must confess that my first feeling as I read this chapter of Exodus is envy. I wish I could see you as Moses did. I wish I could spend 40 days in deep communion with you. I don’t especially want my face to glow, but I would like to “shine” with your glory in this world, so that people might see you through me.
Though I may never have a Moses-like encounter with you, in many ways I have something even better. I know the fullness of your self-revelation in Christ. I have received the gift of your Spirit, who teaches and transforms me. I have been invited to approach your throne of grace, to enter into deep relationship with you. Thank you for these amazing gifts!
Help me, dear Lord, to reflect your glory in all that I do: at home and at work, when I’m with my neighbors and when I’m with my friends. May I be a light in my part of this world, for your sake and for your glory. Amen.