29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, 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 talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.
34 Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Moses went up to the top of Mt. Sinai for 40 days and received the Law from God. It was the Ten Commandments! Then he came down and saw all of Israel sinning against that God that brought them out of Egypt and gave them a way of life. When they looked at Moses, the people were convicted (somewhat) and Moses destroyed that golden calf. (He actually ground it up, burned it, and made them drink the ashes, so there!) In the whole instance of Moses coming down and disciplining the people, there is no mention of glory on him.
But when he goes back up, talks to God again for days, and comes down with a second copy of the Law, the glory of God shines on him so powerfully that people can’t look at his face! God, in all of His holiness, didn’t put His glory on Moses until after the whole nation had committed idolatry against Him.
Was it just marketing to make them pay attention? Was it because Moses did something different when he was on the mountain getting a copy of the Law?
What if the Glory of God shines the most when He forgives our sins? That’s what had happened here. God told Moses to scoot over so He could wipe everyone out and start over with Moses all by himself!
Also in this act of sin, discipline, and restoration…the Levitical priesthood was invented. God used the weakness of His people to show them the need for priests. Then He provided them with the priests to be the intercessors on their behalf. It was too much for the people to talk to God directly. (They begged Him not to!) So God worked with the people in their weakness, in their sinful habits, in their idolatry, and in their dislike of His very Glory!
He worked with them in spite of all of that to bring them closer and to live out their lives in His presence.
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