Summary: What takes place when we spend time in the presence of God that will help us to more effectively communicate to those still in darkness.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
February 22, 2004
"Experiencing Our Shine"
INTRODUCTION: Today is Transfiguration Sunday. Usually when we speak of the Transfiguration we are referring to the scripture in Luke 9:28-36 that tells about Jesus going up in the mountain with Peter, James, and John and experiencing the change of his appearance. Gradually from the inside out his total appearance was transfigured with the brilliance of the glory of God. But today I want to concentrate on another story in the Old Testament.
In Exodus 34, Moses went up to Mt. Sinai for the second time. You will recall that when Moses brought the first two stone tablets down with the Ten Commandments written on them that the people had made a golden calf and were partying it up. In Exodus 32:19 he saw the people worshiping the golden calf, and he threw the tablets down smashing them to pieces. At the beginning of Chapter 34 God told him to chisel out two more tablets and to go back up to the mountain and He would write the words on them all over again.
Today’s scripture takes place on this second trip to the mountain where he spent another 40 days.
Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture.
1. The Shine: When Moses came down the mountain with the new tablets, "he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord" (Ex. 34:29). He had a shine on his face that wouldn’t quit. When the people saw him they were afraid to come near him. They backed away from him like he was "radioactive." Even Aaron, his brother, was afraid as well.
STORY: On the TV show, "Friends," Ross wanted to impress his new girlfriend with his radiant smile. He applied some tooth whitener but left it on twice as long as he was supposed to. His teeth were "noticeably" whiter as he showed his smile off to his friends. He went over to his girlfriends and asked, "Do you notice anything different about me?"
She said, "No, not really."
Later on that night they turned the lights down low, and his teeth glowed in the dark. His girlfriend was HORRIFIED!
You can imagine the people’s reaction to Moses’ shine. After Moses calmed everyone down, he called the people together and gave them the commands that the Lord had given him again on the two tablets of stone. Moses downplayed the radiant glow he had because he didn’t want them to focus on that in itself but rather on what the Lord had to say to them.
If he made a big deal out of his glowing face, he might have gone up to Aaron and said, "Oh, by the way, Aaron, I noticed you need a little light for your reading and then stand next to him and shine." That would have been prideful. He didn’t want people to focus on him and put him on a pedestal. Scripture says he "put a veil over his face" (v. 33) in order to focus on what God had to say rather than to call attention to himself.
Moses wanted them to focus on God--not on the glow. Sometimes when God does something spectacular for us, we tend to focus on the experience rather than on God who did it. Sometimes it causes us to lose our focus. We think too much of ourselves and become a little self righteous and arrogant.
What could a mysterious event on the top of a mountain far away and long ago possibly have to do with us today? Is Moses’ experience in the presence of God a totally foreign concept to us today? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
2. What’s On Your Face?: When you stop to think about it, the look on our faces sometimes really does tell it all. Some people’s faces you can read like a book. For instance was there ever a time when your parents took one look at you and asked, "What did you do? You look guilty." Other times people will say, "You look like you’ve seen a ghost!" Or "You look like the cat that swallowed the canary." A mother looks at her teenage daughter and says, "I’d recognize that look anywhere. What’s his name?"
Facial expressions reveal a lot of things. Moses’ shine revealed that he had been with the Lord.
Sometimes our expressions reveal things we would rather not reveal--irritation, anger, hate, plain old meanness.
STORY: When I was in college I would come home on weekends to help out at the food stand for the Friday night auction. We would sell sandwiches, french fries, cinnamon rolls along with pies and homemade bread. We were always pressured for time to get things ready to open the window and begin selling by the time the auction started.