The Radiance of God

When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.            Exodus 34:29-31 (NLT)

Lectionary texts: Exodus 34:29-43, Psalm 99, 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, Luke 9:28-43

When I was a little girl and I went to church with my mother, she would kneel to pray and this peaceful, relaxed look would come over her face. As I grew older, I never found that kind of peace in the church. But I continued to watch my mother through the death of her parents, her husband and when she would sit beside her bed and pray, that peace was still there. I wanted that. It took me 40 years to find it. I’m a bit slow and stubborn.

This radiance that is told in both the Old Testament (Exodus 34) and the New Testament (Luke 9) tells me that spending time in the presence of God changes a person from the inside out. I have seen it other people, like my mother, and I have seen it when I look in the mirror. Spending time with God will change me. Notice that I did not say that it was about spending time in church. Spending time in church doesn’t necessarily put me in the presence of God any more than spending time in a garage makes me a car. (You’ve heard that one before, haven’t you?!)

Both in Exodus and Luke, the change or transfiguration that occurred frightened those who saw it. That is something to think about and remember. When I am in the presence of God, He welcomes me in. It is a holy and on-my-face experience but the “lowering” is my feeling because I know my unworthiness. God sees me through the grace of my relationship with Jesus and so I am welcome in that Holy Place (Hebrews 10). But as I observe others, as the Israelites and disciples did, maybe it is that looking from the outside in that is frightening and unknown. What does that change mean? How will it effect my life?

The radiance is also about the removing of the veil or the gulf of the unknown that separates me from God. As we grow together in our relationship, the light of His truth and knowledge replaces the dark deception of Satan’s lies and my own sin and confusion. Even that can be frightening as old myths, even traditions, can become swept away by God’s Spirit.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. 2 Corinthians 3:16-4:2 (NLT)

Peter wanted to put up a shelter, a building that would memorialize what he had seen on that mountain. God said, “Hush! Listen to my Chosen One.” God made it simple – just not easy to my flesh. The radiance or presence of God is not about a building. It is about me, His child, taking my Father with me wherever I go, whatever I do, and showing Him, unvarnished and unveiled, without embellishment or distortion to others.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD/Awesome God written by Andy Park/Don Moen, sung by Lindell Cooley



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