The Face of Moses Shines
29 Then Moses came down from Mount Sinai. In his hands he was carrying the two stone tablets of the agreement. But Moses did not know that his face was shining because he had talked with the Lord. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw that Moses’ face was shining. So they were afraid to go near him. 31 But Moses called to them. So Aaron and all the leaders of the people returned to Moses. Moses talked with them. 32 After that, all the people of Israel came near him. And he gave them all the commands that the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking to the people, he put a covering over his face. 34 Anytime Moses went before the Lord to speak with him, Moses took off the covering until he came out. Then Moses would come out and tell the people of Israel the things the Lord had commanded. 35 The Israelites would see that Moses’ face was shining. So he would cover his face again. He did this until the next time he went in to speak with the Lord.
2 Peter 1:13-21
13 I think it is right for me to help you remember while I am still living here on earth. 14 I know that I must soon leave this body. Our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that. 15 I will try the best I can to help you remember these things always. I want you to be able to remember them even after I am gone.
We Saw Christ’s Glory16 We have told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. What we told you were not just smart stories that someone invented. But we saw the greatness of Jesus with our own eyes. 17 Jesus heard the voice of God, the Greatest Glory. That was when Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice said, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.” 18 We heard that voice. It came from heaven while we were with Jesus on the holy mountain.
19 This makes us more sure about the message the prophets gave. And it is good for you to follow closely what they said. Their message is like a light shining in a dark place. That light shines until the day begins and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Most of all, you must understand this: No prophecy in the Scriptures ever comes from the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 No prophecy ever came from what a man wanted to say. But men led by the Holy Spirit spoke words from God.
Jesus with Moses and Elijah28 About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, James, and John and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 While Jesus was praying, his face was changed, and his clothes became shining white. 30 Then two men were talking with Jesus. The men were Moses and Elijah.[a] 31 They appeared in heavenly glory, talking with Jesus about his death which would happen in Jerusalem. 32 Peter and the others were asleep. But they woke up and saw the glory of Jesus. They also saw the two men who were standing with him. 33 When Moses and Elijah were about to leave, Peter said, “Master, it is good that we are here. We will put three tents here—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Peter did not know what he was saying.)
34 While Peter was saying these things, a cloud came down all around them. Peter, James, and John became afraid when the cloud covered them. 35 A voice came from the cloud. The voice said, “This is my Son. He is the One I have chosen. Obey him.”
36 When the voice finished speaking, only Jesus was there. Peter, James, and John said nothing. At that time they told no one about what they had seen.
So today we are met with a couple of accounts of people meeting face to face with God and specifically with his Glory. Now this can be a hard concept to get around because we use the word glory very differently from how it is used here. Here glory is not fame, or recognition, but a physical thing. It can be seen, felt, and probably even tasted. It might catch you by surprise, like walking into a cloud of perfume by the makeup counter at Macy’s. You don’t know it is there until you are surrounded by it, but after you walk by, some of it continues to stick to you.
Maybe that is not a pleasant example, and I don’t think it quite reflects the full nature of Glory. In my mind I see it more like a campfire in winter. I have spent many cold dark nights camping, and it really changes the way you receive a fire. First, there is the light it gives off, creating a visible circle around you. On an especially dark night, the light of the fire also makes everything else hard to see, you eye reacts to the brightness like it is the only thing there is. Next it the heat. Of course, fire it hot. From a match to a candle to a backyard grill, they all give off heat, but a campfire on a very cold night is different. You do not need to be very close to feel its heat, you can actually tell where the air is warmed around the fire, just like you can see the circle of light. If you stand close, inside of this heat ring, you can feel the dramatic difference between your side that is being warmed and the side facing away, it can actually feel colder. Again, just like the light makes everything else darker, the heat can make everything else colder. Lastly there is a comforting factor that is not the actual light or heat, though both of those are part of it. When you are out in the woods and you have a fire, you feel safer, and this creates a bubble of comfort and protection, just like the circles of light and heat. It can also make everything outside of the bubble seem less welcoming.
Now in all three cases the area outside of the bubbles or circles does not really change, it does not get darker, or colder, or more dangerous, but we see and feel that it does. Why? Because we are reacting to the presence of the fire, we are changed by it. This same thing is happening to Moses, the disciples and Jesus, in the presence of God’s Glory. Moses’ face was shining after he talked to God, the disciples were made more sure of Jesus’ greatness, and Jesus’ face was changed, his clothes became white. All in reaction to being near heavenly Glory.
When you leave the bubble of light and heat around a fire, you go back into the cold and the dark. You may remain a little bit warmer but that fades. You will certainly smell of smoke and fire for a much longer time, but it will also eventually go away. There is where Glory is a lot different from fire. It doesn’t fade away, not completely. The disciples were changed by the Glory forever, not just for the moment. I am not sure I can tell you where to find yourself in the presence of Glory, but I can tell you that you need to look for it, and look for how you react to it. You will know when you see it, or hear it, or feel it, and it will change you forever.