While Israel camped at Sinai, Moses made two visits up the mountain to be with God. The first visit was cut short when Israel began worshipping the golden calf. As he went up the second time he had to feel defeated and discouraged. The people he wanted to love and lead had rejected his leadership and rebelled against God. God spoke of leaving the people, and letting Moses take them to the Promised Land on his own. It looked as if all was lost.
The second visit up the mountain, Moses spent 40 days and nights with the Lord. Miraculously, during that time he had no food or drink. Being in God’s presence sustained him. Again, he spoke with God and heard his voice. As he sat in God’s presence and experienced his glory, the dark clouds lifted and he found new strength. At God’s instruction Moses carved out a new set of tablets and wrote the laws again to share with the people.
On that second visit, Moses went up the mountain one way and came down another. After being in God’s presence he was a different man. Notice Exodus 34:29, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” His face was glowing because he had spoken to the Lord. While Moses had no idea, everyone else could see the difference on his face. He stood out like a lightbulb in a dark room.
If we stand back and survey the men and women God has used in history, there’s no one like Moses. Deuteronomy 34:10; 12 says, “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face…For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” As Israel camped around Sinai, only Moses had the privileged access to God. In an incredible time in redemptive history, when God was establishing covenant relationship with his chosen people for the purpose of blessing the world, God tapped Moses to be his prophet.
Today, you and I also live in an amazing time in redemptive history. We no longer have to wait around at base camp and watch one person climb the mountain to be with God. Because of Jesus Christ we all have access to God’s presence. Ephesians 3:12 says, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
There is nothing to fear. Because of Christ we are friends of God. We are now under a new covenant. God writes his law of love no longer in stone but on our hearts. He covers our sins in his righteousness, and gives us new desires. We serve God not out of obligation, but out of love. As God called Moses to come up and be with him, God calls us each day to get alone and spend some time in his presence. When there is no one else to turn to we always have a place to go.
Psalm 34: says, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” Our faces tell the story. Crossed eyebrows, pursed lips, crinkled nose. The pen of despair, discouragement, guilt, and shame can write a story across our face. But when we give all our burdens to the Lord there is a visible difference. Our outlook changes. Our faces are no longer dark, but radiant in a dark world.