Friday, May 12, 2023

2023.05.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 34:29–35

Read Exodus 34:29–35

Questions from the Scripture text: Who came down from where in Exodus 34:29? What were in his hand? What didn’t he know had happened to himself? Who saw (Exodus 34:30)? How did they respond? So who called them (Exodus 34:31)? Who come near? What does Moses do with them? Who else come near in Exodus 34:32? What does Moses give them? What does he do, when he finishes (Exodus 34:33)? When would he take it off (Exodus 34:34)? Until when? What would he do until he came out? And who would see him again in that shining condition (Exodus 34:35)? Then what would Moses do again, until when? 

What did God do for their prophet to help His people receive His Word? Exodus 34:29–35 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord gave to His people to see light in their prophet’s face in order to help them receive His Word. 

A Merciful Divine Fright. We’ve already seen in the previous section (Exodus 34:8-28) that the Lord is giving Israel a “do-over” with respect to the covenant. Everything is as before the calf incident, as if it never happened. Now, Exodus 34:29 takes us back to Exodus 32:15. Forty days and forty nights have ended, just as before. Moses is coming down the mountain just as before. The two tablets of the Testimony are in his hands, just as before. 

But there’s a difference this time. Moses’s face is shining. Not for his own sake—he didn’t even know it at first (Exodus 34:29b). It’s apparent that he discovers his shining face when all the children of Israel, including Aaron, are afraid to come near him (Exodus 34:30). They had previously said in a derogatory way, “as for this Moses, we do not know what has happened to him” (cf. Exodus 32:1). Now, the same is true, but in a way that has struck awe into their hearts. They are right to fear the mouthpiece of God, but God has been gracious to us, and the words that He sends us are words of welcome and mercy, and it was so with Moses and Israel (Exodus 34:31). 

What a mercy from God this shining face was, for the sake of Israel! He knew their stubborn hearts, and that they would easily and quickly disregard Moses and God’s own words on Moses’s lips. So, He gives them a visual cue that gripped them through their senses, since they were slow to be gripped through their reason and conviction. Our pastor’s face, or our husband’s or father’s in the home, is not going to suddenly irradiate light. We must see this mercy from God to Israel and seek from the Spirit that He would give us faith and conviction to treat His messenger with respect and receive His Word on the messenger’s lips as the very words of God. 

Merciful Human Wisdom. It seems that Moses understands the mercy of God to the Israelites in this— that God is helping them to honor His commandments (Exodus 34:32) on Moses’s lips. But there’s a problem. Whenever Moses is finished speaking “whatever he had been commanded” (Exodus 34:34), the light would begin to fade (cf. 2 Corinthians 3: 13). 

So, Moses would veil himself when he finished speaking, so that the lasting impression with which he left them would be a divinely shining face and divinely authoritative words. The implication is that when he had delivered God’s message, Moses would leave the veil on and his mouth shut until he had returned again with the light and words of the Lord. 

Those who will be speaking the Lord’s words to others would do well not to conduct themselves in such a way as to weaken or lessen the strength or weight of the Word of God on their lips. This applies to all believers, who do have a ministry of speaking the truth in love to one another. If such speech is interspersed with that which is unedifying, empty, or even coarse or foul, we hinder others from benefitting from anything that we speak from God’s Word. Therefore, Scripture is full of instruction about self-control to speak only that which is edifying, gracious, etc. (cf. Matthew 12:36; Proverbs 10:19–21; Ephesians 4:29, Ephesians 5:4; Colossians 4:6; James 3:9–12; 1 Peter 3:15; etc.). 

And if this is a duty for every believer, how much more for those fathers and mothers who will be speaking God’s words to their children, those husbands who will be speaking them to their wives, and those elders and pastors who will be speaking Christ’s words to His congregation. Let us be quick to listen and slow to speak, weighing each word well, so that as much of our speech as possible will shine with the light of Christ and carry the weight of His glory and authority. 

Greater, Effectual, Everlasting Mercy. When the apostle takes up this passage in 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:7, there are two great factors that make the difference between the temporary effect of the mercy in today’s passage and the eternal and effectual mercy that God was working through the apostle’s ministry. Those two factors were (1) from where the veil was being removed, and (2) Whose face was seen to shine. 

The veil was being removed not from the face of the speaker but from the heart of the listener, in Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:14–18). This is something that no amount of careful speech on our part can do for those who hear us. It is a divine work, a Triune work. We use the means that He has ordained, and we pray that He will use them in His own almighty power, but it must at last be He who does so. 

And, when the veil is removed, we see the glory of Yahweh not refracted dimly through a mere man like Moses, but reflected fully in the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. When one believes, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ shines upon them, displaying that He Himself is the display of God (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4). 

This is what every evangelizing Christian, caring parent, loving husband, faithful brother or sister, or godly minister wishes: not that his hearer would behold him, but that his hearer would behold that Jesus Christ is the Lord. That the hearer would see Jesus—Yahweh, the Creator, the glorious One Who had proclaimed His own Name to Moses upon mount Sinai (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:5). 

The hope is that in the same almighty power that God exercises when He said “let there be light” (or even better, “Light, be!”), God the Spirit would shine in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus is brilliantly and fully God in all His glory, and the One Whom God has displayed as that glory (cf. Hebrews 1:2–3

Have you seen this about the Lord Jesus, dear reader? Does His glory shine brilliantly in your heart, when you read and hear His Word? 

With whom have you established conversation patterns that hinder you from being able to speak with a credible weightiness in behalf of the Lord? What can you do about that? What must be removed from your own speaking habits, if you are only to speak words that build up, words that come from grace and give grace? Whom has the Lord put in your life that has a special duty of speaking God’s Word to you? What are you doing to maintain an attitude of honor and respect to these mouthpieces, so that you are better enabled to receive God’s Word from them? Whom do you know Christ to be? How do you seek the Spirit to apply this knowledge to you as you “listen” to Him in private Bible reading? In family worship? In public worship? 

Sample prayer: Lord, we thank You and praise You for Your mercy to us, to display Yourself to us in Jesus Christ. Grant that Your Spirit’s work in our hearts would be such that, whenever we read or hear Your Word, we would do so with hearts full of awe and reverence for our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN! 

ARP110B“The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH282 “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

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