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As we come to look into the word of the Lord there is a principle of Bible study that is indispensable. The verse I’m going to share before we start will make a lot more sense at the end of the study, but it’s a precious verse, and even without a study it will bless your heart. John 7:37, “Now, on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” And then the passage went on to explain, that was the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the reality that Christ is the Living Water. We just pray that You take us forward in that truth this morning and we commit our meditations unto You and ask you to unveil the Lord Jesus in a fresh and living way to our heart. We thank You that we can trust You because we come claiming it in the name of our Lord Jesus.
Before I begin, I’m addressing those listening by tape. I’m going to cut you off from the review and then we’ll bring you back when we begin our new material. Welcome to our look at our wonderful Lord Jesus in the book of Exodus, and His salvation is mirrored in the history of Israel. Their redemption from Egypt is a perfect picture of our spiritual history and our spiritual history, our redemption from sin. For the past several studies I’ve been attempting to get a sense of the Sinai experience. Israel met at Sinai. I didn’t want to just wade into that history because there is so much, and so much is going on there. I think without holding it in the light of the full development in the New Testament, it could have been rather confusing.
I called attention to the fact that they were at Sinai for about one year. The Holy Spirit gives us 59 chapters to cover that single year. To grasp the significance of that, let me say this— that is more inspired space than Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews and 1 Peter, all added together. There is more inspired space on the time at Mt. Sinai than all of those books. That gives you the sense of the importance of this record. We have to see how all of that history was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus. Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Do not think I came to abolish the Law or the prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” Romans 10;4, how I love this passage, “For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God and one mediator, also, between God and men; the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”
In the short survey I want to call attention that I’ve given three introduction lessons to Mt. Sinai. In my first introduction lesson I tried to show you their disappointed expectation of meeting the Lord face to face. I think they had in their mind the Garden of Eden experience; He’d just show up walking in the cool of day and they’d continue their fellowship. After all, He had been the One who had been so wonderfully kind to them. He protected them, He delivered them, He provided for them, He guided them with the cloud, He went to war for them, but He did all that behind the scenes. He was their invisible friend. They hadn’t met Him face to face. He was their benefactor, but He was not seen by them. When they got the word that God wanted to meet them face to face, I think their initial emotion was excitement, as mine would have been; I’d get to meet that wonderful person face to face.
You remember the record. The opposite took place. Exodus 19:16, “It came about on the third day when it was morning, and there was thunder and lightning flashes, a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people that were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.” Verse 18, “Mt. Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord ascended upon it in fire; its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently when the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Moses spoke and God answered him with fire.” Hebrews 12:21, “So terrible was the sight, Moses said, ‘I’m full of fear and trembling.’ That’s when their hearts cried out, ‘We need a mediator. We cannot face this God head on.’” Exodus 28:18, “All the people perceived the thunder, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, the mountain smoking, and when the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself, and we will listen, but let not God speak to us or we will die.’” That was the first introduction lesson and how they met God.
The second introduction lesson I tried to show the fullness and the depth of God’s Law. Psalm 119:96, “Your commandment is exceeding broad.” It’s not only broad; it’s deep. It goes to the intents and the motives and the thoughts of the heart, able to divide the spirit and the soul. It goes so deep. In that lesson I showed you how broad it was, just on the surface level. He dealt with all the civil law, ceremonial law, moral law, and in that lesson I tried to show you the two main purposes of the Law. God gave the Law #1 to show Himself; how holy He was and how perfect He was. Psalm 19:7, “The Law of the Lord is perfect.” It’s perfect like God. The Law was a transcript of our Holy God. It also revealed our hearts. It not only showed God. Romans 3:20, “By the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified in His sight. Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” And how desperate our case! Romans 8:3, “What the Law could not do,” not because there is a problem in the Law, “weak as it was through the flesh,” the problem is in us and not in the Law, “God did, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.” Every time we turn around, in some way we are sinning, either in our heart or in our mind, or something like that. I attempted to show you how much we sin in a quick discussion of the Ten Commandments.
We need to see the Law as God presents it as our tutor. Galatians 3:24, “The Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” The Israelites at that time didn’t know the Law was a tutor to lead them to Christ. They thought the Law was given because they were supposed to obey it, and they tried in their own flesh. We saw where that ended. Exodus 19:7, “Moses called the elders of the people and set before them all these words which the Lord commanded him. All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’” Well, you and I know, and they found out that it was impossible. Of course, it wasn’t written yet, but they didn’t understand Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick, desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” They are soon going to discover, but at the time we come to Sinai, they are still blind and they are trying in their own energy and their own flesh to obey God’s impossible Law.
Finally, in the last session I showed how our Lord Jesus is God’s perfect mediator for us. The Law had two commands; be perfect and pay the penalty of imperfection. In any way you are not perfect you must pay the penalty. As I suggested, for a mortal man to sin against an infinite God, takes infinite wages, and only Christ could do that. That’s why I love Romans 10:4, “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” With that introduction, how desperately we need a mediator and how impossible it is for us to keep the Law, and how perfectly Christ fulfilled the Law, with that we’ll look at our new material.
As I closed last time I quoted several verses from the wonderful hymn “At Calvary” from William Newell and I just want to quote again that fourth verse, “Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan; Oh, the grace that brought it down to man; Oh, the mighty gulf, Holy God – sinful man; Oh the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.” These things we know and we praise God for them. We know them and love them. Let’s return to the history of Israel where they did not yet know them, but I want to show you how God is faithful to teach them what we now know so well by the Holy Spirit.
Let me tell you how I’d like to meditate on this Sinai experience, in terms of the revelation of Christ, and how God is about to reveal Christ to those who are learning that they can’t live by their own works. There’s much material here and so many stories running together, it’s a bit difficult to get the large picture. I think if we took every event in the order it might be a little confusing. Here’s a little outline and how I’m going to look at it. Two different times Moses went up to Mt. Sinai and stayed for forty days. He was in the presence of the Lord. Exodus 24:18, “Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Then at the end of this time Exodus 31:18, “When He had finished speaking with him upon Mt. Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone written with the finger of God.” That’s the first forty days.
The second forty days was after the sin with the golden calf; after that idolatry. Exodus 34, “He was there with the Lord forty days and forty night. He didn’t not eat bread or drink water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant; the Ten Commandments.” Once again, by the finger of God. Before I continue I want to remind you that when we were in an earlier chapter, actually Exodus 8 in the plague of lice, God spoke about the “finger of God”. I just want to remind you in the revelation of God, what is that a picture of? The magicians by sleight of hand or by the power of the devil were able to imitate a couple of the miracles that Moses did. They were able to turn water into the color red by one of their arts, and they were able to pull frogs out of a hat by one of their arts, but when it came to the lice we read, Exodus 8:18, “The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats. They could not, so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’” What exactly is the “finger of God”. Out Lord Jesus tells us in the New Testament. When Jesus was accused of doing miracle by the power of the devil, Beelzebub, He gave this word, Luke 11:20, “If I cast out demons by the finger of God, the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Matthew’s record of this same event, he doesn’t say “finger of God”. Matthew 12:28, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” The “finger of God” is the Spirit of God, and you can follow that all the way through the Bible. Where it says “the finger of God”, it’s always the Spirit of God. He wrote those Ten Commandments with the Spirit of the Lord.
After the first forty days there was a special revelation of Christ. That’s what we’re about this morning; I want to show you that. After the second forty days there was a special revelation of Christ. My burden this morning is to show you the first forty days briefly on the mountain, and the revelation that followed, and the second forty days briefly on the mountain, and then the revelation of Christ that followed. Although we’re not going to get to it this morning, the question comes, “Forty days on the mountain? Revelation; forty days on the mountain; revelation. What took place between these forty days?” The answer is three more revelations of Christ. I can’t get into that this morning. Lord willing, in the fall we’ll pick that up. I just want you to get that big overview. We’ll be looking at the first forty days, and especially the revelation of our Lord, and then the second forty days and the revelation of our Lord. Lord willing, if He allows us to come back in the fall we’ll pick up the record.
We already looked at what was happening that first forty days. Moses was there by a miracle, because the Bible says that He fasted for forty days and did not eat anything or drink water. That’s a miracle. He was there by a miracle of the Lord. Usually we picture that it’s God on the mountain and Moses on the mountain. As far as it goes, that’s correct, but it’s more than that. Galatians 3:19, “Why the Law, then? It was added because of the transgressions, having been ordained through angels, by the agency of a mediator until the seed would come to whom the promises had been made.” The Bible says that it wasn’t only God up there and Moses up there; there were angels up there. God gave it to angels who gave it to Moses. The question comes, “How many angels were up there?” Well, we have a hint. It’s a Bible hint. Psalm 68:17, “The chariots of God are myriads; thousands upon thousands. The Lord is among them as at Sinai in holiness.” So, the question is, “What is a myriad?” In the margin of the NAS it says, “Twice ten thousand.” At first I thought that was ten thousand times two which is twenty thousand, but it’s not. It’s ten thousand times ten thousands; twice ten thousand. Just for math I checked this because my math is horrible, and that is one hundred million. Then it says, “Plus thousands of thousands.” Let me put that together.
There was God on the mountain, and Moses on the mountain, and there were at least a hundred million angels on the mountain plus thousands of thousands. Human words can’t even begin to describe what kind of an experience Moses must have had in that holy place in that cloud with more than a hundred million angels that never sinned and a Holy God, and he is receiving all of this information. It was in those forty days that God gave that perfect Law that we already discussed; that civil law that talked about injury and property rights and criminal law, and the ceremonial laws about the sacrifices and feast, and priests and their food and their dress and the furniture of the tabernacle, and then the moral law and the Ten Commandments. All of that was going on. How tremendous to picture Moses up there with God and a hundred million angels and all! When we disobey God’s Law, we’re also taking a stand against a hundred million angels who have never sinned. Hebrews mentions that, Hebrews 2:2:3, “If the word spoken through angels proved unalterable and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty of reward, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation.” He is referring there to Mt. Sinai. It was a tremendous thing, those forty days on the mountain.
But it was a different story at the bottom of the mountain. We need to at least touch on that. It’s a sad story, the story about the sin of the golden calf. There is so much we could discuss about the sin itself, but I’m going to rush through this and get to the principle, the revelation of our Lord Jesus. I’ll mention a few things just to get the sense of it. In my mind it must have been a great shock to Moses after forty days and that experience, Exodus 32:7, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down at once. Your people who you brought up from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They’ve quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They’ve made for themselves a molten calf, have worshipped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your God, oh Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” God was steaming angry. Exodus 32:9, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘I’ve seen this people. Behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then, let me alone, that my anger may burn against them, that I may destroy them.’”
Just picture it, if you are in fellowship with God and having this great experience, and all of a sudden the conversation ends with these words, “Go down at once.” That had to be a shock to that poor man. His fellowship was shattered. He was in the presence of the Lord. When God gave the first commandment, He gave it with this revelation of Himself, Exodus 25, “You shall worship them or serve them. I, the Lord your God am a jealous God.” He presented Himself as a jealous God. All through scripture, what immorality and adultery is to man, idolatry is to God. Idolatry is called “spiritual harlotry”. You’ll see that in all of the prophets. Just think of this on the level of earth. Adultery is a terrible sin; somebody being unfaithful to a spouse. It’s hard to imagine such a thing. But that’s a sin that’s done in secret. It’s done under the cover of darkness. People don’t want others to know. When they get found out, they’re embarrassed. Can you imagine if somebody committed the sin of adultery right in front of their life partner, right in front of the wife or husband? What a terrible thing that would be! That was the situation. God is omniscient. He knows and sees. He was watching them commit idolatry, and that was right in His face; the husband face of God. Moses calls it, “A great sin.” Verse 30, “On the next day Moses said to the people, ‘You yourselves have committed a great sin.’” God said that they corrupted themselves, Verse 7, “The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down at once. Your people who you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.’”
I think the seriousness of this departure is underscored by the corruption of the one who would become the first high priest; Aaron. He’s going to be the first high priest. It’s hard to believe that Aaron was the leader of this horrible rebellion. The people were sort of confused. Exodus 32:1, “When the people saw Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, people assembled about Aaron and said to him, ‘Go make us a God to go before us. As for this Moses, the man that brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” You can understand that they are sort of confused. He went up into the fire and the flame and was gone for over a month, and they are guessing that he’s probably dead or maybe God carried him away to heaven, like Enoch. Verse 23, “They said to me, ‘Make a God for us who will go before us, for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’”
I don’t want in any way to lessen this sin. It’s a horrible, horrible sin, but I don’t think, as I read the record at first, that they intended to worship this idol. I think they wanted a visible representation of the true God. I could be wrong on that. I know they ended up worshipping, because God said to Moses, “Go down. They have worshipped it. They offered a sacrifice.” They fell into it, whether that was their first intention or not. I think their point was, “Here we are. We need a guide. The cloud was guiding us, but the cloud seemed to be stuck on top of the mountain, and how are we going to go anywhere? We need a guide. Let’s make this visible representation of the Lord who will guide us to the Promised Land.” This doesn’t lessen their apostasy, because it got real bad, and they fell into the most gross sin. As much as they had grumbled against Moses and resisted his leadership, they are feeling a little bit alone now and they don’t have a guide. Once again Exodus 32:1, they are crying out, “We need a guide.”
It says, “Make us a God.” In the margin of the NAS we learn that the Hebrew word doesn’t say “God”; it says “Gods” to go before us. That’s still English. Let me give you the Hebrew word for “Gods”; Elohim. That’s the plural name for God, and that’s what they said, “Let us make an Elohim to go before us.” I guess they are thinking that Moses is dead. You know the story. Aaron called for the valuables of the people, the earrings, and in effect he said, “You’ll have your Gods,” and here the sin gets worse and worse. They named it. What did they name it? They named it “Jehovah”. They made a golden calf and they named it Jehovah. It’s hard to believe that they actually thought that an image made out of their earrings could guide them to the Promised Land. Exodus 32:5, “When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.’” The word “LORD” you’ll notice is capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D. When you see that in all caps, that’s “Jehovah”. Exodus 32:8, “They quickly turned aside from the way. They made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your God, oh Israel, who led you out of Egypt.’” The Psalmist describes the same thing in these words, Psalm 106:19-21, “They made a calf in Horeb and worshipped the molten images. Thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that eats grass. They forgot God their Savior who had done great things in Egypt.” So, whether or not they planned it, they fell into idolatry.
Aaron tried to wiggle out of it when Moses confronted him. Exodus 32:24, did you ever hear such a lame thing, “I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So, they gave it to me and I threw it into the fire and out came this calf.’” That was a lie, and we know that because he made a mold. Exodus 32:4, “He took this from their hand, fashioned with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf.” The mold was probably made out of wood. The first thing Moses is going to do when he comes down is set it on fire. He burned it; it’s made of wood. In other words, it was wood inlaid with gold and outlaid with gold, covered with gold. It was a molten calf; a calf out of a mold. I’m not going to develop it now, as I’m going to save it when we get into the tabernacle, but there’s a contrast. The tabernacle was given by a pattern from God; a pattern from heaven; a blueprint from heaven, a design. There’s a difference between God’s pattern and man’s mold, and when you see the mold, it’s got finger prints on it. You’ve got to be careful. Probably, I’m guessing, they copied it from the days in Egypt where they worshipped the calf and all of that. I know this is a Bible truth. If God is not conforming you to the image of His Son, you will be conforming the image of His Son to your own ideas. We’re going to get conformed. Either He’s going to make us into Him, or we’re going to make Him into us.
There’s a great danger in thinking or asking, because the church, like the tabernacle, is after a pattern. It’s a blueprint from heaven. There’s no mold. It’s dangerous, I think, to say, “What was the church like in the New Testament. Let’s go to the book of Acts and see what the church was like, and then we’ll take that mold and we’ll try to copy that.” The church is built by Christ, “I will build my church,” and it’s after a pattern and He’s using Living Stones. There is no mold. You can’t go and say, “Let’s copy this church or that church, church of the New Testament.” There’s such a danger, especially going to the book of Acts and saying, “This is what the church should look like.” That’s a mold, and I think very close to idolatry. In Exodus 32:6 KJV it says, “They rose up to play.” There’s a sense in which that Hebrew word “they rose up to play” has to do with sexual immorality. It turned into an orgy. They were dancing and singing and taking their clothes off. This was a terrible, terrible thing.
We know what sin looked like from this record and we know what the sinners looked like. God gave us a hint of how He felt about the sinners when He dealt with them. Verse 8, “The sons of Levi did as Moses instructed; about three thousand men of the people fell that day.” They had to pay a price to give up their gold earrings, but boy they paid a price sinning against the Holy God. We discussed that Levi thing when we did the book of Joshua. Three thousand died right away, and then add to that verse 35, “Then the Lord smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron has made.” How many died in the plague? We don’t know. God is dealing with sinners, but I want us to see the revelation of Christ, and so the issue is, not how He deals with the sinners. He judged them. How did He deal with sin through His faithful servant, Moses, and in this we have the revelation of Christ. May God help us see this!
Let me take it step by step. What is the first thing Moses did? Verse 19, “It came about as soon as Moses came near the camp, he saw the calf, the dancing, and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands, shattered them at the foot of the mountain.” He smashed the Ten Commandments. James 2:10 gives the reason for that, “Whoever keeps the whole Law and stumbles in one point, is guilty of all.” You break one, you break them all. He gave that object lesson.
At one time I had a little children’s object lesson and scared the heart out of a child. I wrote the Ten Commandments on a balloon and then I gave the kid a pin. I need a volunteer, and I said to just point to the one that was broken. When that thing blew up, the point was you break one you break them all. Anyway, I won’t use that illustration with children anymore.
Moses represents the Lord’s anger her. God is angry. They couldn’t obey God and couldn’t stop from sinning. Now sin has to be dealt with. After Moses broke the Ten Commandments, I’m going to go to Deuteronomy because there is a summary of the history in Deuteronomy 9, “I took your sinful thing, the calf which you had made, and I burned it with fire.” So, the first thing he did, he put the golden calf that is wood and he burned it. Now you have a pile of molten gold, I guess. Then what did he do? Verse 21, “I took your sinful things, the calf which you had made, and I crushed it, grinding it small until it was as fine as dust.” Crushed it, grinding it; how did he do that? That’s a distraction. He did it. It’s amazing how many people write big articles on “how did he do it?” I don’t know how he did it, but he did it, and it was as fine as dust. “I took your sin, I burned it, reduced it to ashes, I crushed it and I ground it so small that it was like dust.”
Then what did He do? Deuteronomy 9:21c, “I took your sinful thing, the calf which you made, threw its dust into a brook that came down out of the mountain.” I want to stop here for a moment and ask you to use your God given imagination, and picture this in your mind’s eye. You’ve got two scenes here. On one side you’ve got an angry mountain. You’ve got fire and smoke and convulsions and thunder and lightning, maybe lava. But you get the idea that this is one angry mountain. Out of the same mountain comes a brook, a stream, a cool and refreshing stream. Into that stream He threw the dust, the sin, and that brook carried it far away. I can paint that scene in my heart, but I have no idea how that would look like on a canvas, if some artist could put this mountain shaking and then that stream. I just like to think of it as a flow of lava and a flow of Living Water, all out of the same mountain. What a picture of the holiness of God, and the mercy of God; the holiness of God, and the love of God. But that’s not the end of the story.
After He burned it, and after He smashed it, and after He grinded it, and after He threw it into the brook, Exodus 32:20, “He took the calf which they made, burned it with fire, ground it to powder, scattered it over the surface of the water, and made the sons of Israel drink of it.” How that completes this picture! Remember that they are not allowed to touch the mountain. There’s a boundary that no animal could even go over or it would die. Because they could not cross the line to get to the brook, the brook came out of the mountain and crossed the line and came to the people. This is all a glorious picture of our Lord Jesus. The brook that descended out of the mountain came to the very place where they were. They sinned against a Holy God, there was a brook, and into that brook He threw the sin, and the brook carried it far away, and the brook is now where the sinners are, and picture two and half million people kneeling down, drinking from the brook that carried their sin far away. This, my friends, is a revelation of our Lord Jesus, after the first forty days.
I told you in the introduction that there was a second forty days and a revelation of the Lord that followed the second forty days, so we can set that one aside. I’ll only give the heart of it this morning. We’re going to revisit this. There is so much spiritual reality in what takes place now. Why was there another forty days? This is all part of Moses intersession for the people. Exodus 32:30, “And the next day Moses said to the people, “You yourselves have committed a great sin, and now I’m going up to the Lord, and perhaps I can make an atonement for your sin.” That was before the forty days when He pleaded with God, “Please don’t destroy them.” We’ll look at Moses as a mediator. We’ll study that, but not right now. Finally, Moses received words from the Lord, Exodus 34:1&2, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I’ll write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. So, be ready by morning. Come up in the morning to Mt. Sinai, present yourself there to me on top of the mountain.” That was the first forty days. Moses received word and it was a glorious word, “I will renew My covenant with you.” That was the first time he had heard that. Exodus 34:10, “And God said, ‘Behold, I’m going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth, nor among any of the nations, and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord. It’s a fearful thing that I’m going to perform for you.’” That began the first forty days. Then in verse 28, “And so he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He did not eat bread or drink water, and he wrote out on the tablets the words of the covenant; the Ten Commandments.” That’s the forty days. God is renewing the covenant.
What happens after the forty days? It was as Moses was coming down. Exodus 34:29, “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mt. Sinai, and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain, that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.” His face was all aglow, and he didn’t know. Verse 30, “So, when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near.” To be honest, that would be a little creepy, someone in the presence of the Lord and then literally their face is shining. When he learned that his face was shining, what did he do? Verse 33, “When Moses had finished speaking with them he put a veil over his face.” Verse 35, “The sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So, Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.”
As I suggested, there’s so much in this passage that we can’t look at this morning, but I want to at least get the heart of it. I want to answer this question, “Why did Moses put a veil over his face?” I pray that I’ll be able to give you God’s answer on that. You might be surprised to know that the answer to that question, “Why did he veil his face,” is not given in the book of Exodus. Moses knew why, but it’s not given. We have to wait for the New Testament before we find out his thinking. We had a similar thing with Abraham, when Abraham went to take up and offer his son on Mt. Moriah, what was going through his head; what was Abraham thinking? We had to wait for Hebrews 11 to find out what Abraham was thinking. So, you’ve got the Old Testament in seed form, but then there’s the fully developed form. If you had only the Exodus record you might think probably that he veiled his face because they were afraid and he didn’t want to frighten them, or it was bright and he didn’t want to blind them. That’s how I was looking at this; he was being kind to them. He had been in God’s presence for over a month, and now he had this wonderful glow, and he just didn’t want them to be in any way frightened by that.
Because some look only at the Exodus record they conclude, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that happened to us today? Wouldn’t it be nice to be in the presence of the Lord and come out with a face that is shining and some would say, “Wow, I know where he’s been. He’s been with the Lord.” That would be a wonderful thing if that were true. Imagine if you were in the presence of the Lord and you came out and your children and your wife and family and neighbors said, “Well, I can see the glow on your face that you’ve been with the Lord.” I want you to understand the real reason Moses covered his face, and if you know the real reason I think you would never want it. I don’t want what Moses had, and I hope I can at least communicate, you may not agree with me, but I want you to know what I’m saying.
I used to think it would be an honor to have an experience like that. Let me show you from the inspired New Testament the reason Moses gave for covering his face. The answer is in 2 Corinthians 3. That’s the chapter I’ve been attempting to lay before your hearts. We didn’t use that chapter but it’s a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. It’s a contrast between the Law and grace. It’s a contrast between that first covenant and the everlasting covenant. It’s a wonderful study. I encourage you to make a chart and look at the contrast.
Let me give the part that speaks about the shining of Moses’ face. 2 Corinthians 3:7&8, “If the ministry of death in letters engraved on stone came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?” Notice these two things. The Old Covenant is called “the ministry of death” but it came with glory. 2 Corinthians 3:9, “If the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.” It’s a ministry of condemnation. It only condemns, but it’s glorious. Don’t think the Law doesn’t have glory. It does. The Law takes care of widows and orphans. That’s glorious. The Law helps little old ladies across the street. That’s not bad. That’s glorious. The Law goes to church, and that’s glorious. I’d much rather have a legalist living next door to me than a gangster or a terrorist, because there is a glory in the Law. They wouldn’t be breaking my windows or breaking into my house and burglarizing it when I’m not home. They wouldn’t be shouting obscenities at me if my lawn was too high and I didn’t cut it to their pleasure. They wouldn’t abuse my pets. There’s a glory in the Law in the Old Covenant. I’d rather have a self-righteous hypocrite living next door to me than some sort of a hard, cruel merciless hater of God living next door to me. 2 Corinthians 3:11, “If that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains in glory.” It’s glorious, but it’s fading away. The glory of the Old Covenant doesn’t last.
Exodus 34:29, “It came about when Moses was coming down from the mountain, two tablets of the testimony were in his hands, and Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone.” It’s a glory that is only skin deep. The glory that Moses had was just the skin of his face. Why did he veil his face? 2 Corinthians 3:13, “We’re not like Moses,” here’s the reason, he gives it, “who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.” Moses knew that it was a fading glory, and he loved his people too much, that they should look at a glory of the Law that is passing away and is temporary and is not going to last. He veiled the glory of the Old Covenant because he knew that it was fading, and he didn’t want them to occupy themselves with such a temporary glory.
He’s the mediator of the New Covenant as the picture, but he represents the Old Covenant, but Moses had a New Covenant heart. Moses understood the grace of God. People didn’t get it, but Moses got it. Having just said that much, probably makes you cloudy about what exactly is Ed saying. Let me apply it, and then you’ll know exactly and you’ll know what to keep and what to scrap.
When the messenger of the New Covenant deliberately veils the message of the Old Covenant, often that person is misunderstood. I’m going to use my own self, so I don’t get other people in trouble. I feel very privileged before God to be a messenger of the New Covenant. I consider myself a messenger of the pure grace of God, and I thank God that He has allowed me that privilege, because of the message of pure grace. I’m not lying. I also see the fading glory. There’s sort of a glory in telling people, “Now, you know you ought to have priority. You ought to know where to put the church and where to put ministry and where to put your family. You ought to have priorities. You ought to be studying the Bible. There is a glory in studying the Bible. You seem to me to know how to be grounded in discipleship. Maybe we should have a course on discipleship. We should probably understand spiritual gifts, what they are and how to use them and how to develop spiritual gifts. What about prophesy? I think it’s good. We can make a chart. We ought to do prophesy. There’s a fading glory in encouraging spiritual discipline. You ought to be gathering with the saints, you ought to be tithing, you ought to be giving your money, you ought to be concerned with missions, you ought to know what prayer is and what fasting is. You can’t neglect these things. There’s a glory in soul winning and in missions, there’s a glory in evangelism.”
I pray to the Lord by His grace when I address you, or anybody, I will have the boldness from the Lord to veil those things. That’s a fading glory. I want to put a veil over it. You are not going to hear me tell you that you ought to have priorities in your life, or that you need to work on discipleship or you need to study spiritual gifts or you should be studying prophesy or spiritual disciplines or should be getting up early having devotions, because I know what is going to happen. It’s going to fade away. You are going to start getting up early and discipline yourself, and then it’s going to fade away and you are going to feel guilty because, “I didn’t keep it up.” You are going to memorize a verse a week, and then it’s not going to happen. It’s a fading glory to pursue those things. Some people have come right out and told me. I appreciate when they tell me face to face. I just smile and say, “Thank you.” I’m not going to argue with them, but they say, “You need balance. You are too much Christ, Christ, Christ. You ought to get some of this other stuff. We need to hear about counseling and marriage counseling and the husband’s part and woman’s part and how to raise children and how to follow up with people and how to do all of that.”
I’ll tell you, those are by-products. If you make a goal out of a by-product you are going to lose the by-product and the goal. You are going to lose both. It’s a fruit. The branch is not concerned about the fruit. It’s concerned about drawing life from the vine. It’s automatic. Every time we make a goal and pursue that which is not Christ…. I promise you this, if you are pursuing Christ in reality, you are going to have good doctrine. If you are pursuing Christ in reality you are not going to neglect this book. If you are pursuing Christ in reality, you are going to be a generous person. You are not going to need lessons on it. If you are pursuing Christ in reality, your heart is going to overflow, and you are going to want to share Christ. It is a fruit and not a work. It is a by-product. It issues fruit; intimate union with the Lord Jesus. And as you come here to the end, and you see this second revelation after forty days with Lord, this glory that fades and needs to be covered.
It’s not that we don’t want you to have missions, evangelism, soul winning, etc., but we want you to have it in Christ. Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.” Don’t read that verse and say, “God freely gives us all things.” He never gives things. He only gives His Son, and with Him He freely gives us all things. When you have Him, you are going to end up with all of these wonderful things. A New Covenant messenger will not only be faithful to preach the pure grace of God, but he’ll also be faithful to cover up all of that which is fading away, and is not the pure grace of God. He doesn’t want you to not have them, He wants you to have them as fruit, rather than as a work.
Let me close with 2 Corinthians 3:18, this is not the veiled face, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters. This is the unveiled face, “We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” That’s the glory that doesn’t fade. That’s the glory that grows and advances. I see the Lord, and it gets more glorious. I see Him again and it gets more glorious. Every time you see Him it gets more and more glorious.
In summary, after the first forty days He gives us a revelation; out of the same holy Godhead comes a river of Life, crossing the line into a world of sinner who we are, and into that brook is thrown our sin, and that brook carries it far away, and we are then invited to drink of that brook. That’s why I began with that, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to the water and drink.” As we end, there’s a glory that fades away. Brothers and sisters, don’t chase it. You’d be chasing a sunbeam on a melting icicle. It’s going to go away. Don’t chase it. Follow on to know the Lord, and the more you see Him, the more glorious it gets.
Father, thank You so much for the revelation of our Lord Jesus in Your precious word. Lord, it just seems to get sweeter and sweeter every time we open the book. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who unveils into our hearts. Now, Lord, we ask you to guide our fellowship together. We thank You for the refreshments that have been provided and the hearts and the love that has opened this home. We pray that You would crown our fellowship together, and if it be Your purpose and Your will, bring us back again in the fall, that we can go on and pursue You in the word. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen