C.H. Spurgeon

“And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.” [Ex 34:35]

A FAST of forty days does not improve the appearance of a man’s countenance: he looks starved, wrinkled, old, haggard. Moses had fasted forty days twice at the least; and according to many competent authorities the tenth chapter of Deuteronomy seems to imply that he fasted forty days three times in quick succession. I will not assert or deny the third forty days; but it is certain that, with a very slight interval, Moses fasted forty days, and then forty days more; and it is probable that to these must be added a third forty. Small attractiveness would naturally remain in a face which had endured so stern an ordeal; but the Lord whom he served made his face brilliant with an unusual lustre. The glory of the light of God upon his countenance may have been the reason why he remained so hale in after years of old age.

With this as my preface, I shall now come immediately to my subject. Here is Moses with a strange glory upon his countenance. We will first answer the question, HOW CAME THIS GLORY TO BE THERE? The skin of Moses’ face shone: how came it to do so?

The answer is, first, it was a reflection of the glory which he had seen when he was with God in the holy mount. It was the result of that partly-answered prayer, “I beseech thee, show me Thy glory.”

God is light, and they that look upon him are enlightened, and reflect light around them. Moses spake with God face to face as a man speaketh with his friend, and this made his countenance glow. As the sun shining upon a reflector has its light thrown back again, often in a most brilliant fashion, so that the reflector looks like a minor sun; so was it with, the face of Moses when it reflected the glory of the Lord. The face of Moses was to God what the moon is to the sun. A saint shines on men when God has shone on him. We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the presence of the Lord. Would you shine in the valley?— first go up the mount, and commune with God. Would you shine, my brethren, with superior radiance? then be this your fervent prayer, “Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant.” If the Lord lift upon thee the light of His countenance, there will be no lack of light in thy countenance. In God’s light thou shalt give light.

The light on the face of Moses was the result of fellowship with God. That fellowship was of no common order. It was special and distinguished. I do not doubt that Moses walked with God after the fashion of believing men in the pursuit of his daily calling; but he spent two periods, of forty days each, in solitary fellowship with God. Everybody was away; Aaron, Joshua, and all the rest were far down below, and Moses was alone with God. His intercourse with God was intense, close, and familiar; and that not for one day, but for eighty days, at the least. Protracted fellowship brings a nearness which brief communion cannot attain. Each morning’s sun found him still in the light of God; each evening’s dew found his soul still saturated with the divine influence. What must be the effect of such whole-hearted, undisturbed fellowship with God? He heard no hum of the camp below; not even the lowing of cattle, or bleating of sheep came up from the foot of the mount.

Moses had forgotten the world, save only as he pleaded for the people in an agony of prayer. No interests, either personal or family, disturbed his communion; he was oblivious of everything but Jehovah, the Glorious One, who completely overshadowed him. Oh, for the enjoyment of such heavenly communion! My brothers and sisters, have we not lost a great deal by so seldom dwelling apart, so little seeking continuous, absorbing fellowship with the Most High? I am sure we have. We snatch a hasty minute of prayer; we afford a hurried quarter of an hour for Bible reading, and we think we have done well. Very far am I from saying that it is not well. But if for minutes we had hours, the gain might increase in proportion.

Oh, for nights of prayer! Oh, for the close shutting of the closet door, and a believing drawing nigh to God! There is no limit to the power we might obtain if such were the case. Though our faces might not be lit up with splendour, our lives would shine, our characters would become more pure and transparent; and our whole spirit would be so heavenly, that men would regard with wonder the brightness of our being. Thus, you see, the face of Moses shone because he had long looked upon the face of God.

What honour God may put upon any one of us if we really put honour upon Him! My brothers, my sisters, if you are consecrated to God as Moses was, He can give you an unconscious influence which others will be compelled to recognize. Upon your brow the heavenly light of grace will rest; from your eyes the lamp of truth will shine. Walk in the light, as God is in the light, and have fellowship with Him; and then you, too, shall shine as God’s light-bearers, and your whole life shall be as the star which guided the wise men to Christ. Influencing men for God, the gracious will follow you, and the wicked will be awed by you, even as “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy.”

O LORD make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; and teach me Thy statutes. Amen! [Psalm 119:135]

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