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Exodus 34:29-35

Once I visited a Gem and Lapidary Museum while on vacation with my husband. During the tour, we were brought into a curtained booth where we saw a large assortment of rather plain and ordinary-looking rocks behind the glass display case in front of us. Suddenly the lights went out, and a special light shone ultra-violet rays on the collection of rocks. I was awed as these seemingly insignificant rocks were suddenly transformed with vibrant colors! The guide explained that the florescent qualities embedded in these types of minerals causes them to glow brilliantly when they are exposed to certain rays of light. It was fascinating to see that even when the ultra-violet light was switched off, the rocks continued to give off the colorful radiance for several seconds. We were told that this happens because the rocks “store” some of the ultra-violet light while it is shining on them.

This experience reminded me of the story of Moses in Exodus 34:29-35. The passage says that when Moses came down from his encounter with God on Mt. Sinai, after receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were so taken aback by the light radiating from his face that he had to cover himself with a veil. “But whenever he went to speak with the Lord, he would remove the veil until he came out again…and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face” (vv. 34-35).

Two things strike me about this passage. The first is that the radiance of Moses’ face correlated directly with the time he spent in God’s presence. Several times in this passage, it is emphasized that Moses intentionally went apart from the people in order to spend time speaking with God; and in Numbers 12:8 God Himself says about Moses, “I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles!” I think it’s safe to assume that while God was speaking, Moses was listening! In the same way, when you and I spend time alone with God we must not only speak our hearts to Him, but listen for His voice speaking to us. He most frequently will speak to us through His Word; thus the psalmist gives us a wise example to follow:

“I have hidden Thy Word in my heart that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11).

In his book “The Practice of Godliness,” Jerry Bridges says “…it is clear that the central idea of the psalmist in 119:11 was that of storing up God’s Word in his heart against a time of future need.” Just as those rocks stored up the rays of ultra-violet light, allowing them to continue shining in complete darkness, so God’s Word stored in our hearts allows us to continue shining in a dark world.

The second thing I notice about this passage is that Moses was not aware that his face had become radiant (v. 29). Numbers 12:3 tells us that “Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.” How could such an important man, chosen by God and the leader of millions, be described in such a way? The reason that he was able to exhibit such humility was, just like the glowing countenance, inextricably related to his face-to-face meetings with God. Encountering the Holy Presence of God will always re-orient “self” to its proper place. The more time we spend focusing on God, soaking in the Light of His beauty and love, the less room there will be for self-focus.

Get alone with God today. Read a passage of Scripture, ask God to speak to you through it, and then listen. It takes practice…but if you persevere, you will be surprised at how His Light can shine on all of us “ordinary-looking rocks” to display the colorful creativity of the Creator. As David said,

“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy” (Ps. 34:5).

Retire from the world each day to some private spot...

Stay in the secret place until the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart

and a sense of God's presence envelopes you.

Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it...

Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are

without regard to what others think...

We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.

–A.W. Tozer

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