“And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.” – Exodus 34:29-30
Moses was given the unique privilege of one of the most intimate experiences with Almighty God in scripture. God manifests his glory to Moses as he passed by with Moses in the clift of the rock. The effect of this experience was that Moses’ face shown, but he was not even aware of this “afterglow” of God’s glory reflected on his countenance. In like manner, when we experience the presence and the glory of God, it should make an effect on our countenance that is noticeable those around us.
Moses had a very intimate relationship and communion with Jehovah God. The Lord “spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exod. 33:11). Oh, that we could have such a close communion with the Lord that he would speak to us just like an old friend, as he did with Moses. In response to Moses’ request to be shown God’s glory (Exod. 33:18), God promised to put Moses in the clift of the rock, cover him with His own hand, have His glory pass by him, and allow Moses to see his hinder parts (Exod. 33:19-23). This promise was fulfilled by the Lord in the next chapter, Moses was placed in that clift, “and the Lord passed by before him” (Exod. 34:6).
The effect of such intimate communion and revelation of the Lord to Moses, his countenance was changed to where the skin of his face shone. However, Moses was not even aware of the effect that the manifestation of God’s glory had on him; he didn’t even know that his face shone. This change was so alarming that his own brother, Aaron, along with all the other children of Israel, were afraid to come nigh unto Moses (Exod. 34:29-30). Then, they even requested for Moses to wear a veil over his face because his face shone in such a bright countenance (Exod. 34:33-35). Just as it was evident to all of Israel the effect that Moses’ communion with the Lord as his face shone, and the effect of God’s presence manifested in our lives should be noticeably evident to others as well.
Moses only saw the “afterglow” of God’s glory. Even though he didn’t even come in contact with God’s full glory, it was still enough to change his complexion in the sight of others. Moses’ exposure to the “afterglow” of God’s glory gave him a spiritual “Son-tan”. When one has prolonged and repeated exposure to the sun, it changes their complexion in the sight of others. After returning from a beach vacation, it is probably noticeable to us that those who have been outside now have a distinct “suntan”. The effect of the sun’s exposure on their skin makes a notable difference in their complexion in our sight. Likewise, this intimate communion and exposure with God – which I hope that we all crave and desire to see God’s glory manifested to us as Moses did – will have an effect on our complexion and countenance in the sight of others. When we have a fervent and blessed service of worship in God’s house on Sunday, a joyful “shining countenance” should still be reflected on our face when we return to work on Monday. Others around us should be able to see the effects of our “Son-tan” when we have seen and felt the presence of God and the manifestation of the Son of God’s glory. The effects of our worship should still be reflected in our countenance, particularly in the sight of others, even after we leave the presence of God and the church house on Sunday. Not only in public worship, but our communion with God in private prayer and devotion should be evident to others around us in our joyful disposition and countenance as well.
Remember, Moses only beheld the “afterglow” of God’s glory. He could not behold God in all of his glory, fully face-to-face with the Lord, otherwise his sinful body would be utterly consumed. If only the afterglow of God’s glory caused Moses’ face to shine in this amazing manner, how much more shall we “fully shine” when we are finally conformed to his image in heaven. Speaking of the resurrection of the just, “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3). We shall certainly shine in a unique way at the end of time when we see the full expression of his glory, but God’s glory should also have a great effect on our appearance to others, even if we don’t realize that difference ourselves. There should be something different about our disposition, our joy, our strength in trials and difficulties that reflects to others our continued residence in the presence of God. May we spend those intimate moments with God that should effect our countenance, to make us shine in the sight of others with God’s “afterglow” and our spiritual “Son-tan”.
Originally published June 2018