THE SHINING FACE OF MOSES
2 Corinthians 3:7-16
In the second Corinthian letter chapter 3:7-16, we read of something that happened to Moses that convinced Aaron his brother, the rulers of Israel and the people of Israel that Moses was almost a supernatural being. They were so afraid of him that they fled from his presence, and he had to cover his face before they would come near him. Even more surprising is the fact that a comparison is made between Moses and Christians. It is affirmed that faithful Christians have a somewhat similar experience that Moses had, and they are influencing the world much like Moses influenced Israel.
I want to talk to you first about the shining face of Moses. You can read about this fascinating event in the book of Exodus, chapter 34. In 2 Corinthians 3, a divine commentary on this great wonder is given by the Holy Spirit and how it has been duplicated in the life of devoted Christians. The word of God reveals that Moses had a supernatural radiance on his face. How did this happen to him?
You will recall that God gave the ten commandments to Moses twice. The first time God called him to the top of Mt. Sinai, He wrote the ten commandments on two stone tablets and told Moses to take them down to the people. When Moses returned to the people and saw them worshiping the golden calf, in hot anger He threw the stone tablets to the round breaking them in pieces. God called Moses the second time to the top of Mount Sinai and again wrote the ten commandments on two tables of stone. This time God descended on Mt. Sinai in the cloudy pillar, and He gave Moses a wonderful manifestation of His presence. Moses saw God face to face, and God talked with him. This time He gave Moses all the religious details, sacrifices and worship requirements of the Jewish religion, and commanded him to write them in a book. While God was talking to him his face began to shine. His face became radiant and a brightness was dispersed from his facial skin. He took on a supernatural appearance. He took on the look of a supernatural being. It was miraculous, for human skin cannot become radiant and glow in brightness. This was produced by being in the presence of the Almighty and seeing His glory. His shining face symbolized the glory of the Jewish religion and the wonderful divine knowledge as revealed in the ten commandments. The transformation of his face was a result of seeing what he saw and hearing what he heard. He was a honored and privileged man. He must be ranked as one of the three greatest human beings ever to live on the earth. The custom of ancient and
modern painters to put a halo above the head of Jesus, the virgin Mary
and other sacred persons no doubt arose from the shining face of Moses..
There were two special features about this radiant glow that brightened his face. One was he did not know that his face had a supernatural look. He had no idea his face was radiant even when he was in the presence of God. God's glory had transformed his face, but he didn't know it. The first intimation he had of anything peculiar in his appearance was that everybody ran away from him in mortal fear. Even Aaron his brother, the rulers and the people would not come near him. What made Israel shrink from the face of their leader, intercessor and friend? He had come to tell them he had procured their pardon and reconciliation for worshiping the golden calf. Why then did they avoid his presence instead of greeting him with a cordial welcome? Doubtless, it was their sense of guilt in the matter of the golden calf, and they thought the beaming radiance of his countenance had changed him into a flaming minister of heaven to execute vengeance on them. This led Moses to do a very gracious thing. He covered his face with a veil so they could not see the brightness of his face. He covered up his greatness for their sake.When he went into the tabernacle to talk with God, he removed the veil and met God face to face, but when he came out of the tabernacle and was among the people he covered his face with the veil. Another interesting thing about his face was that the radiance subsided and grew dimmer with time, but every time he communed with God in the tabernacle the radiance and brightness reappeared. They were afraid to see the man who had seen God.
The second thing I want you to note about this mysterious event is the divine commentary about it which the Holy Spirit gave us through the apostle Paul. This entire event was symbolical, prophetical, and revealed great truths to future generations. For one thing the Holy Spirit revealed that the radiance of Moses' face symbolized the glory that belonged to the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant system of divine knowledge. It was the glory of that religion that made his face shine. His shining face stood for that religion. 2 Cor. 3:7-11 says, “If the ministry of death written and engraved on stones was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will not the Christian religion be more glorious?” In verse 10 the Spirit says, “As glorious as the Jewish religion was, it had no glory whatever when compared to the Christian religion which has exceedingly more glory.” The glory of the Jewish religion was the Ten Commandments, the greatest set of moral and religious laws that
had ever been given to the human race. All who would keep those laws would find happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come.
Don't misunderstand the glory of the law of Mses or underestimate its glory..The moral laws of the ten commandments are still in force, not because they are in the law of Moses, but because they have been brought over into the new covenant. All that was of permanent value in the law of Moses has been absorsbed into the law of Christ. All of the moral laws embodied in the ten oommandments have been absorbed into the new covenant, even the Sabbath Day, for it was symbol of he Lord's Day. It is a clear teaching of the gospel, “Remember to keep the Lord's Day holy. The Lord's Day is more holy than the Sabbath ever was. My friends, observe the moral laws embodied in the Ten Commandments, and it will be well with your souls. Jesus said in Matthew 5;19, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Another great truth symbolized by the radiant face of Moses is that the Jewish religion was destined to pass away and cease to exist. Permanence of existence was not a part of its glory. In 2 Cor. 3:7 the Holy Spirit said that as the glory and radiance of Moses face grew dim with time and passed away with time, this symbolized the fact that the glory of the Jewish religion would also pass away. As the radiant face of Moses gradually dimmed and eventually disappeared, this was designed to teach the truth that the Jewish religion and its glory was destined to pass away and be replaced with the New Covenant religion, which would be far more glorious. Everything about the radiant face of Moses was teaching an important religious truth. As the glow on his face passed away so the religion represented by his glorious face was destined also to pass away forever and be replaced by a better religion.
Still another truth taught by this glorious face of Moses was that Israel refused to see the true glory that belonged to their religion. The radiant face of Moses was a symbol of the glory of their religion, but they refused to look at the beaming face of Moses. Moses had to cover his face with a veil and hide the glory of his face. This symbolized Israel's refusal to see the true meaning of their religion. It was full of types, shadows and prophecies of the coming of Christ, and the new religion God promised to give Israel. The true glory of their religion was that it foreshadowed the comilng of Christ their Messiah. They would not look on the face of their great leader and teacher who gave them their religion, and they rejected their Messiah when He came. The Holy Spirit says 2 Cor. 3:13,14. that the 4
same veil they would not allow Moses to remove has not been removed to this very day. Their minds were blinded and the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, in the reading of the Old Testament. Nevertheless when one turns to Christ the veil is taken away. Only in Christ can the Old Testament really be understood and its true glory seen.
Finally, the Holy Spirit has revealed that God does for every true and faithful Christian what He did for Moses, when He lighted up his face. The great wonder of Moses' radiant face has been duplicated in the religion. of Christ. God has done something for all Christians very similar to what He did for Moses. We read about it in 2 Cor. 3:18. After telling us what happened to Moses, Paul concludes by saying, “ But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
This statement is based on what happened to Moses.. Did Moses see God with an unveiled face? So have Christians. We see Christ the second person of the Godhead with an unveiled face, that is face to face. We do not see Him literally for He is in heaven, but the idea is that Jesus is standing nearby us and a mirror is in front of him. When we look into the mirror we see Him with an open face, an unveiled face. What is this mirror that allows us to see Him? It is the New Testament; it presents to the mind a clear picture of God's divine Son, and Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” The Old Testament is also a part of that mirror, for we can see Jesus also in Old Testament, if the veil does not lie on our hearts. Let us not make the mistake Israel made and never perceived that the glory of their religion was Jesus. Every time you open God's book to read or study, your eyes are on Christ. This is specially true when you read the New Testament; for it brings your vision into immediate contact with Christ. It is the mirror that presents a perfect picture of Christ. Gaze at it often; read it often; hear it taught and preached often. Keep your eyes on this mirror. We look at him with open face, without fear, and receive wonderful knowledge, even as did Moses in olden times. It was the presence of God and the divine knowledge he received that made Moses' face to shine. Moses saw the Father face to face; we see God's Son face to face.
In addition the Holy Spirit said that in seeing Jesus, being in His presence, talking with Him, and listening to Him, we are being transformed into His glory, His likeness, his character, and the more you become like Him the greater your glory, the more your life will shilne. . But you might say, “Preacher, I don't understand. I don't feel a transformation like Moses had. My face is not shining like Moses' did. Moses didn't know his face was shining either, but it was. You are mistaken; your face is shining, and
not only your face but your entire life is radiant, glowing, and beaming. Did not Jesus say that Christians are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden? Philippians 2:15 says, “In the midst of a crooked
and perverse generation we shine as lights in the world.” What is this radiance that Christians have that is comparable to the shining face of Moses? The radiance we reflect can be seen in such excellent traits of character as meekness, humility, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, sweetness of disposition, moral uprightness, gentleness and self-control. Christ lights up our life, and gives us hope to carry on. We are glowing lights in the world.
There is a greatness about Christians that they are unaware of, and it is good that we feel that way. Light radiating from the face of Moses made him great, but he was unaware of it till he returned to the people. But he did not boast about or misuse his greatness. When he discovered his greatness, he was very gracious. He didn't walk around with a sense of superiority and scare the people with the brightness of his face. Instead he covered his face with a veil so that his fellow Israelites would not be afraid of Him..This is attitude for us all to think about.
We have come into the presence of God and Jesus, and they have transformed our lives. It can be seen in our religious attitude, our meek and forgiving nature, our high moral and religious demeanor, our efforts to do good, and the heavenly and Christ-like spirit clearly visible in all our conduct. However, we should be patient and forgiving with those among whom we live in this world and not walk about with “a holier than thou” attitude. We must remember that they have not seen God and Jesus; they have not seen what we have seen; they have not heard what we have heard, and they do not have the knowledge that we have acquired. We should not make them feel uncomfortable in our presence. Whatever beauty God has put on us, we should still be filled a sense of our own unworthiness and our many weaknesses. This will make us overlook and forget that which makes our faces shine. This will help us not to pride ourselves upon our distinction, and its will help us accommodate ourselves to the weaknesses of those about us.. We can leave our reputation to God; He will take care of it. Let our minds be upon usefulness, doing good and serving our generation according to the will of God..