In Exodus 34:29-35, Moses is physically changed by his time with God, radiating a visible light that intimidates the Israelites. This passage speaks to Moses’ relationship with God and with the people, as well as the idea that we can reflect God’s presence in our lives.
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00:00:00:25 – 00:00:30:22
Thanks for joining us. Happy Tuesday. Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy whatever else it is today. The middle part of February. The ides of February, I guess. But we continue through Exodus and I think an interesting passage today both in its in on its own, an interesting passage. And then this passage has a very particular tie to the New Testament, which I think is fascinating.
00:00:30:23 – 00:00:59:36
So we are in the 14th 34th chapter, sorry, and we are in the 29th verse. Moses has been with God. You remember yesterday, if you were with us, God told Moses, take everything and go down to the people. So here we go. Moses came down from Mount Sinai as he came down from the mountain with the two tablets that had the covenant in his hands.
00:00:59:38 – 00:01:21:18
Moses did not know that the skin of his face shown because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation, and they returned to him and Moses spoke with them.
00:01:21:43 – 00:01:57:39
Afterward, all the Israelites came near and gave in. He gave them the commandments and in them all, the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. Whenever Moses went before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining, and Moses would put the veil on his face again until he went in to speak with him.
00:01:58:44 – 00:02:26:04
So a really interesting passage, a physical effect that Moses has in in regard to his time with God. He’s been on the mountain with God. He’s been in the presence of God. He has seen, albeit from the rear, the glory of God passed by him. And now we get told that that that has physically changed him, that that has literally affected his appearance.
00:02:26:20 – 00:03:07:40
And he he glows, he shines. And the word here is sort of radiance, which we use as a kind of illustration. Let your light shine before we talk about that. But here it it is literally true. It is physically true. And Moses doesn’t know it and it kind of unnerve serves the people a little bit. But it’s fascinating, Michael, to think that there is this kind of effect on Moses, that being in the presence of God has done something observable to him, has done something that people that there’s noticeable about him.
00:03:08:25 – 00:03:25:19
There are a lot of sermons to preach on that text and without getting carried away, you know, the place we started is not where it points us. But with this actual story where this is a physical reality for Moses.
00:03:25:24 – 00:03:55:40
Yeah, and this has a lot to say about Moses, his relationship with God, and also simultaneously Moses, his relationship with the people. Because here when Moses goes to speak with God, the idea of this unveiling is that obviously the presence of God is the thing that’s making his glow. It radiate right? And in the presence of God, there’s no intimidation, there’s no separation, there’s no division.
00:03:55:40 – 00:04:16:48
But with the people, there’s an immediate nervousness. The idea is that Moses is accommodating the people’s concern. And in this case, you know, Clint, this is often the case in the Old Testament where a human serves as a kind of middle person between the people and God, that this is not just an exodus thing. This happens in the books to come as well.
00:04:17:02 – 00:04:42:24
But this particular case, Moses here, is literally mediating the presence of God for the people. And when they see this radiant skin, this thing that’s come from the presence of God, they are put off by, they are intimidated by it. It’s too close to God for them. And that has some really interesting significance, certainly about the people’s understanding of what God wants for them.
00:04:42:25 – 00:05:02:24
The idea here is that they need Moses to be an interpreter. And so there’s a very stark difference there. But Clinton, I think where this text is interesting is not just in the layers of meaning within it, but the layers of meaning that we actually have in the New Testament being read by it, which I’m sure we’ll get to before the end of the conversation here.
00:05:02:24 – 00:05:27:21
But it’s suffices to say Exodus, you’re describing a story. Yes. And we’re supposed to understand this in the context that’s telling us something about the people of Israel. The relationship with Moses and Moses, his relationship with God. Absolutely. This story is also teaching us a lesson. This this story is also a metaphor. It’s all of this at the same time because there’s many layers of spiritual meaning here.
00:05:27:23 – 00:05:46:08
Yeah, it’s a really rich text in that sense, Michael. I mean, on the one hand, from a leadership perspective, you have to kind of be a little jealous of Moses, that he has this built in mechanism by which the people know they should listen to him. I mean, he comes out of the tent and his face is shining.
00:05:46:08 – 00:06:14:04
On the other hand, that makes the people nervous. So there are times that he covers his face, but it it does speak to his credibility and his authority. It is something that for the people sets Moses apart as their leader. And then you look at all the ways you can use this passage, the idea of a a personal challenge, a devotional challenge.
00:06:14:24 – 00:06:43:35
Are we reflecting God? Do others see God in us? Do they hear God in us? Do do we have a kind of presence that communicates that we have spent time with God, that we have been in the presence of God? You know, there again, I think it’s this is one of those attacks where for me at least, it’s just it’s very easy to jump toward the devotional sermon side of it.
00:06:43:35 – 00:07:13:15
I mean, it is interesting that it happens for Moses. I think it validates his leadership. I think it’s interesting that the people get a little uncomfortable with the idea of Moses. And, you know, all of that is well and good. But I think whenever I read this text, I hear the sort of the personal challenge of whether we in our own way are reflecting radiance, whether we are shining because of the time we’ve spent with God.
00:07:13:42 – 00:07:37:53
That is, I think, a really helpful frame. And I think some, if you are joining this conversation, maybe a little uncomfortable with that way of reading the text to say that it is in some way inviting us to consider are we reflectors, are we signal bearers sign bearers of that image of God? That’s a, I think, very helpful way to read the text.
00:07:38:06 – 00:07:59:43
But if you generally have come to the text with this idea that I’m reading a history story, I’m reading a thing that had happened and you bring with it that kind of modern conception of time that this is the history book of what happened. You’re not going to naturally read the text that way. And I think to your point, I mean, I think that this is evidence in favor of that reading of the text.
00:08:00:14 – 00:08:29:42
We actually have a very unique biblical, interpretive kind of moment with this text because of the fact that in Second Corinthians, Paul actually literally references this story and we’re not doing a study on Second Corinthians. So I’m not going to belabor this, but suffice it to say, look up Second Corinthians chapter three, verse 12, and following. And here there’s this idea where in verse 14 that they are still there since only in crisis, it’s on the side.
00:08:30:01 – 00:09:02:52
Indeed, to this very day, whenever Moses a red is red, a veil lies over their minds that the people who the laws being read to, that the Jewish community, we suddenly see the Apostle Paul, who’s an expert in the Old Testament scriptures, looks and sees in this Moses story where Moses, his face is veiled and he applies that very same frame to those who are not understanding or seeing the radiant beauty of Jesus Christ.
00:09:02:52 – 00:09:29:51
They have a veil over their faces. I think it is striking, Clint, to see within our own scriptures we have an example of reading the text like you’re reading it. And that’s the point I want to make, is that we should read the Old Testament with a broader frame than just what happened in history, because this text was written for the purpose of teaching and teaching towards the end of forming character, of becoming godlike people.
00:09:30:03 – 00:09:45:52
And so I think if you’ve never read these Old Testament texts in that way, when you come to a section like this that might seem strange to us, you know, glowing faces, what am I supposed to do with that? Dig in a little deeper. There is something to say about how we live and what our faith means.
00:09:45:52 – 00:10:10:39
Yeah, and we see that in the New Testament. You know? Let your light shine before, man. Jesus says that. That’s the idea of. Of light. Being light bearers is a pretty prevalent theme. You know, what’s in the Old Testament arise your light will shine like the dawn from Isaiah. There’s there are texts that I think sort of on undergird this text and allow us to jump there.
00:10:11:11 – 00:11:03:36
You bring up second Corinthians, Michael. There are two, I think not necessarily related to the text or learning the text, but there are two fascinating things about this story. One, the more obscure is that the word for shine in Hebrew is very like the word for horns. And in early Christian art, there are some pictures of Moses where he has horns, and it was a mystery for a while why those early Christian artists would have painted Moses with horns until somebody put two and two together and found some versions of this story where they had mistranslated, or at least they had probably read the wrong word and thought that this said something about Moses having
00:11:03:36 – 00:11:31:57
horns on his head. So if you ever see a picture of Moses with horns, it’s not a sign that Moses was was demonic or anything like that. It’s a misunderstanding of the text, which is a really interesting piece of history. And then you mentioned Second Corinthians. The fascinating part of that is that where the Old Testament story gives us the impression that Moses covers up his face to make the people comfortable.
00:11:32:47 – 00:12:00:45
Paul reads that to say that Moses covered up his face so the people wouldn’t know when his own light was fading in this idea. And then Paul takes it runs with this idea of we don’t cover our faces like Moses. We have unveiled faces. That’s kind of the mountaintop of that text. We we unveil our faces and we let our light shine before others.
00:12:00:45 – 00:12:28:10
But it’s a very different way that Paul reads the text. Now, Paul’s a Pharisee, Paul’s a Jew. Paul is well in touch with lots of interpretations of this text. I don’t know if that’s the guiding interpretation of his day, but it is very interesting that the Old Testament version of the story implies one thing as Paul uses it to encourage Christians, he does a very different thing with it.
00:12:28:10 – 00:12:39:16
And I think, you know, that is when we are aware of things like that, we’ll try to point them out to you because it is interesting. It’s a very different spin on the story.
00:12:39:28 – 00:12:43:19
Yeah, 100%. And I think while we’re here, let’s just very quickly to your point, oh.
00:12:43:33 – 00:12:44:27
00:12:44:34 – 00:13:14:47
Michelangelo’s rendering of Moses and even in this, he does indeed have horns. And I think it’s a fascinating kind of turn here when we realize that this idea of revelation is so essential to the to the Book of Exodus. You might not think that if you think of it from the Sunday school lesson type perspective, you think of the plagues, maybe that idea of God in conflict with Pharaoh that we had in the very early part of this book.
00:13:15:07 – 00:13:48:46
But if you look back over the arc of the book, you have God revealing himself to Moses and the burning bush, this seminal moment in the Scriptures, this highly important, a time in which God literally gives his name to Moses, which becomes, you know, a revelation moment with ripples all throughout the rest of Scripture. And then you have this idea of revelation to the people, God taking them through the Red Sea, which is an act of divine saving, but it’s also an act of divine revelation of the God who’s carrying them through.
00:13:49:04 – 00:14:12:09
And then you have this idea of covenant, the Ten Commandments, God, giving this to the people, you know, over and over and over again. The question presented to the people is, will you believe and trust in this God who’s called you out of Egypt? And will you believe and trust in the revelation that he’s given you? So once again, we have another story in this case, the one who comes to face God is shining.
00:14:12:23 – 00:14:39:07
Those who are unable to see that they are pushed away, they’re repelled, that they struggle to even speak with Moses. I think there’s something deeply embedded in the text. Our question of will we see God when God reveals himself? Will we believe God when we put our faith in God? Will we trust God for the stuff of this day, much like we were encouraged to think about with the Manna stories?
00:14:39:07 – 00:14:49:58
I just think you can’t read Exodus without reading it as having this. This theme of Revelation worked throughout. And I think that this story is maybe an example par excellence.
00:14:50:11 – 00:15:16:51
Yeah, and I don’t know if we’ve had this conversation. Maybe it’s a little late in the game for it, but. Moses I’m sorry. Exodus. It is a book that covers a lot of ground. Michael Owen You have the story with Egypt. You have stories like the Golden Calf, you have the Moses narrative, you have all of that stuff that we looked at about the laws and the tabernacle and investments and such.
00:15:16:51 – 00:15:42:16
And we’re going to circle back to some of those again starting tomorrow. You have a priestly history. You have the history of Israel, you have an idolatry, you have warnings against the Canaanites. This is a multi-faceted book. This book is is juggling a lot of things and in some ways that makes it difficult to just sit down and read because it’s not all story.
00:15:42:16 – 00:16:04:33
Genesis was, I think, much more narrative on the whole, but Exodus is trying to do multiple things at once, which gives it a a really interesting flavor. And when you hit texts like this that are narrative, that are illustrative, that are great illustrations, I think those are those are natural places to kind of dig in.
00:16:05:13 – 00:16:33:48
Yeah, they’re natural places to see that this has always been about more than just what will happen to the people. It’s an invitation to those who pick up this book and read it to themselves, be part of that people. And I think when Moses comes and speaks with God, when he is in that relational place, there’s a kind of invitation open to all of the people of Israel to come in to hear what God has to say.
00:16:33:48 – 00:16:59:07
And I think that the text, both in what it’s framed here and maybe in some ways what it’s left open, it’s giving us each the choice to listen to here, to be humble enough and to be courageous enough to invite God to speak. And when we do that, it has a way of transforming our lives. And in this case, it literally transformed Moses his face as he did it.
00:16:59:25 – 00:17:23:33
Yeah. So hope there’s something in there that’s maybe spoken to you that’s been helpful. That’s been interesting. If you have questions, drop them in the comments or send us an email. Thanks for being with us today. Have a great rest of your Valentine’s Day and we hopefully will see you tomorrow.