Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God's visible shining

"God and Moses"- 1573 woodcut
by  an unknown artist.

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 34:18-35

TO CHEW ON: "Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain) that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him." Exodus 34:29

The visible glory on Moses' face when he came down from talking with God on Mount Sinai seems to have served several purposes.

- It was physical evidence that Moses had had a supernatural encounter.
- It was a sign that Moses had an intimate relationship with God.
- It was also a sign that God endorsed Moses as a leader — unlike the Israelites who had repudiated his leadership just a little while earlier (Exodus 32:1-6).
- It wasn't something Moses consciously sought or even knew he exhibited.

The visible glory of God displayed on a person's face is the stuff of other supernatural encounters in the Bible.
  • In Judges 3:16 Manoah's wife (Samson's mother) described the face of the Angel of the Lord as "very awesome."
  • In Daniel 10:6 Daniel encounters a man whose face had "the appearance of lightning."
  • At Jesus' transfiguration His face "shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light" - Matthew 17:2; also Luke 8:29-32.
  • At Jesus' resurrection the angel of the Lord who rolled away the stone was described: "His countenance was like lightning" - Matthew 28:3.
  • When Stephen was stoned, as he was looking into heaven shortly before he died, onlookers saw his face become "as the face of an angel" - Acts 6:15.

There are at least two other references to God's glory shining form one's person, though probably more in a metaphorical way than an actual physical shining: 
  • One is in Ecclesiastes where the writer says "A man's wisdom makes his face shine." (This reference to wisdom reminds me of my favourite wisdom passage — James 3:13-17. Check it out. It kind of dovetails with the next reference to shining...)
  • Another is from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" - Matthew 5:16.
I think we could say, in sum-up, that consciously seeking that visible shining glory for ourselves is not something we need to do.  But we can all aspire to reflect the glory of wisdom, and give others reason to glorify God by the shine of our good works. And should God one day radiate His presence through our physical selves in even more startling and supernatural ways — all glory to Him.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for evidences of Your glorious presence visible on people's faces throughout the Bible. I would love it if my life would shine, to the extent that people would be inspired to glorify You because of it. Amen.

MORE: "Be Glorified" sung by Ron Kenoly

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