Exodus 24:18 says, “Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”
Here’s the secret to Moses’ longevity. He had a special friendship with God. God continually invited Moses to come up and spend personal time with him. In God’s presence, he found everything he needed to fulfill his calling. What was it like during those times?
It was a time of transparency. Exodus 33:11 tells us this about Moses’ prayer life, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend…”
In their pilgrimage through the wilderness, only Moses had this kind of access to God. He could walk directly into the presence of the God who parted seas and made mountains tremble. In those moments he spoke to God like a friend.
To help us understand the nature of God the Bible often uses human metaphors called anthropomorphisms. We know God is not confined to a human body and doesn’t have a physical face. The face metaphor tells us a lot about Moses’ communication with God. The face reflects what’s down in the soul. We can say one thing while our face is saying something completely different. You can say, “I love you” but if your teeth are clenched and your jaw is set it changes the meaning.
To speak face to face means we let God see our face. In the ancient world, the word hypocrite was used for an actor on stage wearing a mask. On the mountain, Moses took off his mask. He told God what was going on down in his soul. He openly shared his fears and feelings of inadequacy. For example at the burning bush, when God called him to speak to Pharaoh Moses responded, “…I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) While Moses stood on holy ground he was able to share his imperfections.
I enjoy using social media and believe it’s a wonderful tool to connect with others. But Facebook can turn into Fakebook when we polish, crop, and photoshop our selfies to impress others. Friendships are formed not through boasting of our success, but in sharing fears and failures. It is the same in our friendship with God. This kind of transparency strengthened the bond of friendship between Moses and God. Unfortunately, many go through their entire Christian experience without ever giving voice to their greatest fears and worries in prayer.