Posted by: Pauline | February 3, 2013

Scriptures for Sunday February 10

Exodus 34:29-35

We sometimes speak of someone’s face shining, usually in connection with great joy. But when Moses face shone after talking with God, it scared people. He took to wearing a veil over his face, so as not to alarm people, and he would remove it when he spoke with God.

As a side note, if you have ever seen Moses depicted a having horns, it is because the Hebrew word for “shone” is similar to the one for “horns.” When Jerome translated the Old Testament into Latin, he used the word for horns. Since the word in question was not used elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is not clear exactly how it should be translated. It could be the skin of his whole face glowed. Or it could be there were beams of light rather like horns.

Whatever it looked like, his face in some way reflected the radiance of God’s glory. While we often tend to think of God’s glory in a more abstract way, in Scripture God’s glory is frequently manifested as a bright light that people can actually see. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, he is only permitted to see it “from behind,” but apparently even that was enough to leave a very noticeable glow on Moses’ own face.

2 Cor. 3:12-4:2

Paul takes the story of Moses using a veil over his face, and gives it a metaphorical meaning. Because God became incarnate in Jesus Christ, we see in the glory of God, and we do not need a veil to keep us from being overwhelmed by it. Those who read Scripture (at the time Paul was writing, that would have been the Old Testament) but do not respond in faith have a “veil” of sorts, not over their minds but their hearts, keeping them from God.

Those of us who do have faith, who see the glory of God in Christ, are being transformed into His image. This means not just that we take great comfort in what God has done for us, and enjoy worshiping and glorifying Him when we gather on Sunday, but also that it changes the way we live, the way we think and speak and act in our everyday lives.

Luke 9:28-36

If the Israelites were alarmed at the shining face of Moses, just try to imagine what Peter, James, and John felt when they saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain. The passage says his face was altered, and his clothes became dazzlingly white. Mark’s Gospel adds that his clothes became whiter than any bleach could make them, while Matthew says that his clothes became “white a light.”

Whatever it was they saw, that any words they tried to use to describe it were inadequate, this vision of God’s glory left them literally speechless. One pastor’s comments on this passage says that silence was probably a very good response. Too often we try to cover up any awkwardness we feel with words (Peter tried that here), but there are mysteries and sacred encounters where silence is best.

Which means this is a good place to stop commenting, and just let Scripture speak for itself.


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