|Dr. Couch, the first time Moses went up on the mountain and received the Law from God, the Bible does not mention his face shining from seeing the Lord. But the second time he went up, it says in Exodus 34:29-35 that his face shone from speaking with Him. What is the difference?|
ANSWER: Moses broke the first set of Law tablets because of the sin of the people in the valley when he came down from the mountain. He went back up and was given a second set of tablets. Then it says "the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with the Lord" (Exod. 34:29). Aaron and the people "were afraid to come near him" (v. 30). Because of their fear Moses had to put a covering over his face to calm their hearts.
One good explanation comes from Unger who writes that the first giving of the Law was totally legal, while the second giving was "mixed with divine grace and glory." This seems to be demonstrated in Exodus 33:5-11, for it says that when Moses appeared before the people, as shown with the pillar of cloud descending, they all stood "and worshipped, each at the entrance of his tent" (v. 10). At least for awhile, they had learned their lesson about the holiness of their God. These chapters were "learning" chapters about who their Lord was. In their encounter with Moses and God, Aaron reminded the Lord that the people "are prone to evil" (32:22).
God's people must recognize the Lord's judgment and His grace. There is not the one without the other. As sinners, we are due judgment, but Christ went to the cross to provide grace. "Don't mess with the Lord, as Israel did!" Where would we be without His grace and mercy?
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch