A brighter shine

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The Bible says that bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). Who we spend time with changes us. Pray for God to stir your heart to pursue the best company of all.

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Bible passage Exodus 34:29-35

The Radiant Face of Moses
 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.

 33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Glorious reflection
Moses had asked to see the glory of God, he had heard about the glory of God, and now he reflected the glory of God. He was unaware of how he looked because he was not looking at himself. This must have been a powerful testimony to the glorious company Moses was keeping when he spent time with God.

Later on Paul recalled this passage and underlined the wonder of a God who dwells with us and in us.

New Testament reflection
In 2 Corinthians 3:7–11, Paul compares Moses’ ministry of condemnation with our ministry of righteousness. He compares Moses’ temporary ministry with our permanent situation. That is, we do not have periodic encounters with God that leave an external mark on us.

We have the internal presence of God by the Holy Spirit. So as we spend time gazing on the face of Jesus – reading our Bible, praying, worshipping – the result is a genuine transformation as we are transformed by God’s glory into a brighter and more glorious representation of him.


When you spend time with God, are you focused more on yourself, or more on Christ? If you want to see your life transformed, then be sure to be looking at Christ each day!

Peter Mead

Deeper Bible study

Come with wonder that Christ ‘gave himself up for [the church] … to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish.’ (Ephesians 5:25,27)

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ – and faces communicate much. The combination of eyes, eyebrows and mouth is captured in the increasing range of emojis (‘smileys’ used in electronic messages): happiness and sadness, love and hate, excitement and boredom, acceptance and rejection, confidence and fear, contentment and anxiety. Look at the faces in a crowd when a sporting team wins or loses. What do people see as we worship, or leave a service, or talk about Christ? Or when we are with someone we love deeply? Faces affect how any words are heard.

Moses was unaware that his face was ‘radiant’ (v 29), but when the people saw it they kept their distance. Moses, however, ‘called to them’ (v 31) to come near, not covering his face until he had finished speaking. Moberly notes that the Hebrew qaran (‘emit rays’; vs 29,30,35) is related to qeren ‘horn’ and may be an echo of the golden calf: ‘Moses was to the people what they wanted the calf to be – a leader and mediator of the divine presence’1. Radiance indicated that Moses had been with God and so the commands he was giving were indeed what ‘the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai’ (v 32).

Paul saw in the ‘veil’ a picture of a temporary and hiding nature (2 Corinthians 3:7–18), but he also spoke of how God ‘made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay’ (2 Corinthians 4:6,7). In the ordinariness of everyday life, through the imperfections, fragility and cracks of the jars, we display this light to all around – and our faces play a major part. Being radiant flows from time spent with God, open to the work of Christ in our lives.

John Olley


1 RWL Moberly, At the Mountain of God, JSOT Press, 1983, p109

Background: Glory, glory

Meeting with God made a difference to Moses. So much so that others couldn’t stand it and he had to cover his face.

Overwhelming glory
God’s glory isn’t an easy idea to grasp. Think of the setting up of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34–38), the dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 7:1–3) – sound, light and above all an overwhelming sense of the presence of God. To experience God in this way is more than we can bear (see Exodus 33:2; Isaiah 6:5).

And yet somehow, on the mountain, Moses meets with God in a way that few have. And something of God’s glory is reflected in him. Perhaps if the people had really been close to God they could have coped.

Glory hidden
Creation, as Gerard Manley Hopkins saw, is full of God’s glory:

‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
      It will flame out, like shining from shook foil…’

The law came with glory, but it was too much and Moses had to cover his face. Tragically, although the glory of God is everywhere, sinful people cannot see it fully.

Glory revealed
In the opening chapter of his Gospel, John tells us that in Jesus ‘we have seen his glory’ (John 1:14).

Paul writing to the Corinthians picks up the story of Moses and spells out what it means for us (2 Corinthians 3:7–18). He contrasts Moses’ need to cover his face with our freedom to come to God.

Paul’s argument is not easy to follow (and in verse 18 we cannot be sure whether the verb should be translated ‘seeing’, NRSV, TNIV, or ‘reflecting’, NIV), but the central point is that if the coming of the law was glorious then the revelation of God in Christ is even more glorious. Despite that, we can come freely and without fear to God.

John Grayston

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Hosea 1,2


Spot the difference

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Does meeting with God transform you as much as it did Moses? Can other people see a difference in you after you’ve prayed?

Reflect upon your own appearance as you watch this animation by Jon Birch.



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To be in your presence (This is my desire)
Noel Richards.
Copyright © 1991 Thankyou Music

  • Song: There's a sound (Restoration Song)
  • Composer: Lou Fellingham, Nathan Fellingham and busbee
  • Artist: Lou Fellingham
  • Album: Promised Land
  • Publisher: Kingsway Music
  • Copyright: Copyright © 2008 Thankyou Music & The Livingstone Collective/kingswaysongs.com
  • Buy this album here

  • Rachael Hampton | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    You are good company WL friends. Ps 16 GNB How excellent are the Lord's faithful people; my greatest pleasure is to be with them. And whether we are spending time alone, or together, enjoying the One Whose red hot passion for us never changes (thanks Fiona) this is the company that will change us most of all. May our faces reflect His presence, even in the dire circumstances so many of us are facing. Barbara, David, Flash Mob - yes! Here is a modern worship song https://youtu.be/3f3sNiYpuF4

  • Jack Russell | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Isn't it a good thing to think that through the imperfections, fragility and cracks that light can shine through. Through all the tough situations that there can be hope. Rachael - you spoke of dire circumstances and that's hard. Sometimes there aren't any words to say. Father give what is needed for today - you know all circumstance let not the circumstances be the end of the story but let the hope you give shine through.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Jesus shines through all who truly love him. How could He not when I was on His mind that first Easter Sunday. The 'all-knowing One has me (and you) always on His mind. Praise be to the One highly exalted above anything and everything that can be named. Thank you Jesus for never giving up on me, for creating me to know you how much you love me and enabling me to love you. Thank you that our relationship will last for eternity. You alone are worthy, worthy, of glory, praise and honour. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I am yours and you are mine for ever and ever, Amen.

  • Angela Munday | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Yes Jack, some days there aren't any words to say - thank you for yours as I continue to meditate and spend time with our God of love and light.

  • Paul Burkimsher | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Glory: I like John’s phrase “sense of the presence of God”. I’ve been trying to pin down what this word “glory” means for many decades now. It’s a word much used (and sung!) in Christian circles, but what does it really mean? I think of the transfiguration. The best definition for me so far though is (forgive the grammar:) “God’s biggerness”.

  • Barbara Sabin | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    REBECCA, thank you so much for your encouragement, there are times when the Devil tries to persuade the opposite of what scripture says and I must remember that he is a great deceiver .As GILVIN says I am His and He is mine. I wonder what David's face was like when he had slain Goliath ? and Joshua's as he won the battle of Jericho. All the glory went to God. Give to Jesus glory, Give to Jesus glory,Proclaim redemption's wondrous plan And give to Jesus glory.“‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

  • David Forbes | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    This passage elevates Moses face which is described as being full of glory so that the Israelites couldn't look on. Paul in 2Cor 3 makes a direct reference to Moses in his comparison between the old and new covenants. Mostes was carrying the stones and the commandments were engraved into them. Apparently inscribing laws into stone was customary as these laws needed to stand the test of time. But Paul compares this OT Covenant as inferior in that it could only judge and bring death. It had its purpose in showing us God's moral standards but we as the Israelites can never achieve it's demands. If the glory of Moses with Gods tablets was amazing it nonetheless pales into insignificance says Paul in comparison with the New Covenant . It brings life says Paul, instead of death. It was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."

  • David Forbes | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    continued... this New covenant was more glorious, permanent not temporary, life and not death, flesh and not stone, not judgemental but life-giving and it was ushered in by the Spirit in Pauls vocabulary.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 01 December 2017

    Amen to your comments DAVID

  • Gerald Leadley | Wednesday, 06 December 2017

    Hi Paul. I too have diff with what " glory " means. One way I get my head ( partly ) round it is to think of it as the revelation due to light. In other words it reveals a glimpse of what is hidden about God. It happened at the transfiguration of Jesus, though I think, it was His whole body. However no one explanation seems to cover it. Funny that. I said "covers", it when it seems to "uncover"!

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