Ex 34:29–35 NRSV – Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”
Summary – Consistent with the theme of Transfiguration, the passage tells of how Moses was transformed by being in God’s presence. In his case, he reflected with shining skin, the glory cloud of the Lord. God’s glory was in a small measure wearing off on him. The Israelites knew that he was becoming transfigured into a holy person. Moses veiled his face to accommodate their fears and to keep the focus of attention in their work together and not on Moses shining face. The response of the people, even Aaron and the rulers was that of fear. They were afraid because holiness of God was rubbing off on Moses.
Insight – Have you ever seen a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis? It was once a caterpillar crawling on the ground but then through miracle of metamorphosis. Now it flies with vivid and artistically colored wings as light as a feather. The gospel promises us that we shall also be changed when we see Jesus. The temporary change in Moses appearance is a taste of this great change when we will have a resurrection body and all inclinations to sin and misery have been glorified out of us. In the mean time we have to keep crawling in hope, by faith, and with love.
Catechism – How did Moses speak to God? Face to face.
Discussion – What things in your physical limitations now would you like to overcome in the resurrection? What matters of your sinful heart would you like to overcome?
Prayer – Holy God, mighty and immortal,
you are beyond our knowing,
yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ,
whose compassion illumines the world.
Transform us into the likeness of the love of Christ,
who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,
the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.