Transformed by His Glory

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”
(Exodus 34:29)

Throughout his life, Moses had several encounters with the Lord, and it began to show.  Moses met God in the burning bush that was not consumed, and in that encounter was called to proclaim the release of God’s people from captivity in Egypt.  Through Moses, God’s mighty hand worked signs and wonders before Pharaoh, through the plagues and the parting of the sea.  And most spectacularly, Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai, where he received the 10 Commandments and the instructions for the life of the covenant nation of Israel.  All this time in the presence of God began to have a transforming effect.

Moses hungered for the word of God.  He would often set up a tent away from the camp (unlike the Tabernacle that was to be in the middle of the people), where Moses would pray and intercede for the people before the face of God.  We are told in Ex 33:9 that when Moses went into the tent, the cloud would descend upon the tent and the Lord would speak with Moses.

Moses hungered for the presence of God.  God had told Moses to lead the people up to Canaan, to a land flowing with milk and honey, but added that he would not go up with them, lest he consume them, for they were a stiff-necked people (Ex 33:3).  As he came before the Lord, Moses prayed “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”  Moses had such an experience in the presence of God that he could not imagine going forward without God.  Life would be unbearable, the obstacles too high to overcome.

Moses was transformed by the glory of God.  When Moses came down from the mountain, his face shone because he had been talking with God.  The people, who had not had such an encounter, couldn’t handle the glory, it was too much for them, so they asked him to put a veil over his face.  But the people could see, they knew, that Moses had been in the very presence of God, and his life would forever be changed.  That is the effect of God’s glory in the life of man.

What’s fascinating is this: Moses, through all his encounters with God, never saw the Lord face to face, for no one could see the face of God and live.  To satisfy Moses’ longing to see the glory of God, God placed him in the cleft of the rock, covered him with his hand until he passed by, then took away his hand so that Moses could see his back (Ex 33:21-23).  Moses was completely transformed by the passing, veiled encounter with God, and everyone took note.

We, however, have seen a greater glory in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” John 14:9.  We all, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”  If you know Christ, you know the Father.  If you have walked with Christ, you have walked with the Father.  If Christ dwells in you, the Father dwells in you as well.  If, in times of worship, prayer, meditation upon the Word, you have gazed upon the face of Christ, you have seen the face of God.

Does the world know you’ve had this encounter with the glory of God?  Is there evidence in your life of having been in His presence?

Has His love transformed yours, recreated you, so that you love differently, sacrificially, redemptively, as Christ loved you?

Has His Spirit created in you a hunger for His Word, for His presence, so that, you can say with the Psalmist, “One day in your house is better than a thousand elsewhere.”  Do you long to feast on His Word, ready to hear it more and more, so that one hour in worship, twenty minutes of a sermon, are just the beginning?

Friends, one of the reasons the world isn’t drawn to God is because we have taken God’s name in vain.  No, I don’t mean we’re swearing and blaspheming God’s Holy name.  We take the Lord’s name in vain when we make it meaningless, powerless, empty in the eyes of the world.  The world isn’t drawn to God because we haven’t come down from the mountain showing that we’ve been in His presence, shining with the light of His worth, His glory, His wonder.   Maybe our worship, our devotion, our prayers, have been halfhearted and misguided, so that we haven’t encounterd God at all.  Maybe we have, but we’ve been too afraid to let the world know, so we veil His glory, hiding our lamp under the basket.

Friends, this cannot be.  The Church exists to make known the glory of God, to lift high the cross of Christ in proclaiming salvation from sin, to grow as a body in holiness through the power of God’s Spirit.  Such glory is the hearts true desire.  May we encounter the glory of God as we walk with Christ our Lord, so that the world may see His glory in us.

Satisfied in Jesus

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
(John 6:35 (ESV))

As I prepared for last Sunday’s sermon on Matthew 6:16-18 (Jesus’ instruction on Fasting) something occurred to me that I hadn’t ever considered before.  If the purpose of a Fast is that, rather than finding your strength from physical sources (bread, meat, caffeine), you turn to God, the true source of all life, health, and strength, then the one who is Fasting should demonstrate in their strength of character that they have indeed been fed by “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4).  Jesus had Fasted 40 days, and was hungry (an understatement), but because of His intimate reliance upon and relationship with the Father, he was able to withstand the temptations of the evil one.  He was hungry because of the Fast, but satisfied in God.

I’ve Fasted before, sometimes skipping a meal for prayer, one time even Fasting for a week.  I have, on occasion, “given something up” for Lent, usually something that wasn’t good for me anyway, as an act of discipline.  The greatest revelation provided through the Fast has always been how self-sufficient I have become.  If I’m hungry, I can just run out and get something to eat.  If I’m bored, I can grab a snack.  If I’m down and depressed, maybe some “comfort food” will help cheer me up.  Who really needs God when there’s Bratwurst, Kraut, and a Cold Stout ready and waiting?  Fasting reveals just how dependent I have become on food, but more importantly, how little I think I depend upon God.

Don’t get me wrong, I think God gave us brats and kraut, beer and wine, steak and potatoes, fish and chips, spaghetti and marinara… a smorgasbord of succulent sustenance that we may eat and be blessed.  The problem arises when we begin to think that this sustenance will satisfy, because it doesn’t.  No matter how many times you eat yourself sick, and mumble as they roll you away from the table, “I couldn’t eat another bite…” – you will be back.  You will thirst again, you will be hungry again.  Until you can find that one thing that really satisfies, your stomach, your life, will always yearn for more.

Jesus said, right after feeding 5,000 people, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  More than anything else, Jesus is the one thing that will satisfy our souls.  We scramble around in a maddening rush trying to find that one thing to make us happy, satisfied, content in life – all the while Jesus offers the bread of life, the living water.

Perhaps the reason why we are not satisfied in Christ is that we have never really gone to him to be satisfied.  We are content with an occasional nibble of bread and a thimble of wine, when He is ready to bless us so that our cup runneth over and our heart overflows with the river of life.  We don’t want to have to trust and depend upon the provision of another, thinking that our independence is some sign of spiritual superiority, when in reality we are starving ourselves of our one source of life.  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Perhaps we just haven’t been reminded enough of how Christ can satisfy our souls.  I direct my sermons so that every message leads us to trust and hope in Christ, but how often do I extol the vast treasure and the unsearchable joy that comes from knowing Him?  Not often enough.

I finished my sermon on Sunday with a quote from Robert Murray McChayne’s letter to a friend whose soul was troubled:

He is not far from any one of us. He is a powerful and precious Saviour, and happy are they who put their trust in Him. He is the Rose of Sharon, lovely to look upon, having all divine and human excellences meeting in himself; and yet He is the Lily of the Valleys,—meek and lowly in heart, willing to save the vilest. He answers the need of your soul. You are all guilt; He is a fountain to wash you. You are all naked; He has a wedding garment to cover you. You are dead; He is the life. You are all wounds and bruises; He is the Balm of Gilead. His righteousness is broader than your sin; and then He is so free.

Friends, know that in Christ you will find everything your heart desires.  Turn to Him.  Find in Him your strength.  Be satisfied.

Grace and peace,

SDG