Read Exodus 31-34
While Moses could not see it, his face shined brilliantly when he descended from the mountain after forty days and forty nights in God’s presence. I have had a picture in my mind of Moses’ face shining brightly since I first read this account as a young boy. It is easy for me to recall, even now. It must have been a remarkable thing for the Israelite people to see. Moses’ face was bright because of God’s glory.
Throughout the pages of Scripture, you’ll find the glory of God is revealed to the people of God. For example, Jesus appeared in His full glory before three of His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration; it was a breath-taking sight to behold. In today’s reading, God comes down at Mount Sinai and the people see a cloud. God speaks out of the cloud, and everyone is afraid. So Moses goes up the mountain alone and he prays, “Show me your glory, your perfect, brilliant, bright, infinite greatness and unimaginable beauty.” God responds to Moses: “and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:22-23). Again, Moses’ face radiated because of His time alone in speaking with God (Exodus 34:29).
What is the glory of God? The glory of God speaks of God’s splendor, beauty, magnificence, or radiance. For example, Psalm 19 says the heavens tell of the glory of God, the stars tell us something of the glory of God, the ocean tells us something of the glory of God. They’re all signs of the glory of God. But they are nothing like what we see in today’s story.
Compare Jesus’ Transfiguration for a moment with Moses’ experience seeing God’s glory. While Moses reflected the glory of God, Jesus produces the glory of God. Where Moses reflected the glory of God like the moon reflects the sun, Jesus produces the glory of God for it emanates from Him.
Jesus is the exact representation of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). He is not a reflection of God’s glory. Instead, He Himself is the source of the glory of God. Jesus is the ultimate way to understand who God is. Nothing surpasses Him. Jesus is the exact, perfect, unsurpassable, final representation of who God is. He is not a partial radiance of God’s glory; He is the exact radiance of His glory.
There are two ways to see the glory of Jesus. One day, we will see His glory by sight when we enter into eternity, but now, believers see Him by faith (see 1 Peter 1:8). We don’t get to see all of Him here on earth, but we get a preview and taste of Him and what is to come. Yet, no person gets to see the glory of Jesus in eternity who has not first seen His glory on earth by faith. You need God’s grace to see God’s glory. Where the soul is not previously seasoned with grace and faith, it is not capable of seeing God’s glory. Do not deceive yourself: if you do not see a sneak-peak of His glory here on earth, you will not see it in the hereafter.