Holiness and Light
Lord, with Your people in every corner of creation, I count it all joy to be able to praise Your name.
Read Exodus 34:18-35
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
We who believe are being gradually transformed into the likeness of Christ. This is the process of Christian sanctification, which is God’s will for us.
There is a remarkable change in this passage, not in the words of instruction, because this is a restatement and renewal of the covenant already given, but in the people’s attitude to Moses. They’ve moved from impatience at his absence and thinking they can replace him with Aaron, to wondering at his special relationship with the Lord, signaled by the radiance of his face after each meeting. When Paul refers to this reflected glory (2 Cor. 3:7-18) he suggests the veiling is so the people do not see the brightness diminishing, but here initially their reaction is one of awe. It gives them another indicator of both the wonder and the holiness of the God who calls them into relationship. Prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments, this new nation had received little teaching on sin and disobedience. Now they have seen both the wrath and the glory of their God and experienced the resulting fear and awe.
We are told that Moses was not aware at first of his beaming countenance—a sure mark of his humility. We are very rightly wary of a holier-than-thou attitude in people who profess exceptional spiritual encounters. Rather than leading us to think of ourselves as extra worthy, such experiences should produce humility and self-forgetfulness. C.S. Lewis reminds us that the more we come into God’s light the more aware we become of our own unworthiness. It is like a wretch released from captivity in a deep cave whose joy at being free is tempered, as he comes closer to the light at the mouth of the cave, by the realization of his filthy rags. The point is not that Jesus’ release is less than enough, but that in the light of God’s holiness we become more and more aware of our need of cleansing.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psa. 51:10). Let that be your prayer as you ponder God’s holiness.
Spirit of God, revive me I pray, and may something of Your grace and beauty be upon me. I want to be more like Jesus.