God said to Moses: “Now write down these words, for by these words I’ve made a covenant with you and Israel.”
Moses was there with God forty days and forty nights. He didn’t eat any food; he didn’t drink any water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his radiant face, and held back, afraid to get close to him.
Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that God had told him on Mount Sinai.
When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the presence of God to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they would see Moses’ face, its skin glowing, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back in to speak with God. (Exodus 34:27-35)
God made the Israelites an offer they couldn’t refuse. His contract with them established their relationship with him. Where before the Israelites had been slaves to Egypt, with Egypt as their master, now they entered bondage to God: God would be their new master—and they would be his slaves. But as Jesus would later say in the New Testament, his yoke was easy and his burden was light. Servitude to God meant freedom.
When Moses came back from Mt. Sinai the second time, he did not return to judge the people or punish them for their misbehavior. Instead, he came back with something wonderful. His time with God had left its mark on him: in fact, he reflected so much of God’s glory that it frightened his brother and the people. Moses had to cover his face.
In the New Testament, Paul uses this story to illustrate that the veil keeping the people from fully seeing God has been taken away in Christ. Today, like Moses whenever he went into God’s presence, we can now see God’s truth without anything standing in our way (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-18). Like Moses, we can reflect God’s glory to others. Those who spend time with God show it.