When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
This ongoing response of fear that Aaron and the people express toward God’s glory continues to hamper their progression in holiness, but I’m more immediately struck by the fact that Moses doesn’t know his face is glowing. I see in this afterglow a principle for the way our own communion with God shines out across a watching world in ways that we, too, don’t quite see or understand.
This is where virtue is so imperative to our lives of faith. As my missionary grandpa used to say, “God can shine through a broken glass, but not a dirty one,” which is another way of saying that unconfessed sin has a way of sullying the fruits of God’s Spirit in us the way diseased soil in my back yard is currently blotching my apple trees. We don’t come away from fighting with our spouses and screaming at the slow drivers on the road and engaging in impurity on a phone or computer with a brightened, more luminous countenance, do we? It takes time, and effort, and courage, to let God refine us in the fire of His presence. But you might object and say, “Well, it isn’t fair to compare my situation to Moses’, and it isn’t even good Bible exegesis anyway, because Moses had forty days to sit with God! Look at my schedule—I can barely spare forty minutes!” Ah, but don’t forget the widow with her mites and the boy with his loaves and fishes. Give God that forty minutes and watch what He does with it!
I wonder: when I get up from this chair soon, and go downstairs to help my wife with breakfast, and play with the kids who are each vying for my attention, will the time I spent in God’s Word show on my face, in my attitude, in my tone? Because if it doesn’t, if there’s nothing tangibly different about me from before, then I got up too soon.