So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.
Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Several key observations are worthy of note in this experience:
1. Moses spent considerable time with the Lord. Forty days and nights is a huge amount of time, for anyone. But this is a unique event where Moses dwells in God’s presence for this extended time. Obviously, unless you have a great deal of vacation time, we are not going to spend that kind of time with the Lord. However, if we rush to the New Testament then we also see that Jesus would spend time alone with His Father (Mark 1:35). In our culture it is hard to find anyone that sets quiet time aside to meet with God. Our busy and frenetic lives have far too many things going on to take thirty minutes out to spend with the Lord. Everything is on the fly and that includes our prayer lives. Certainly we are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), but we have lost something in our relationship with God because we are both unable and unwilling to make quality time with Him.
2. God spoke to Moses and Moses spoke to God.This was not a quiet, meditative time by oneself. The whole purpose of this time was intimacy with God. Moses engaged with God and while we are not privy to all that was said, we have much of their conversation recorded in this chapter, and it was not meaningless time. God is very personal and Moses had a chance to understand the heart and mind of God as God chose to reveal Himself during that time. You can tell that many people today may have the discipline and the routine down to spend time “with God” but the question is always, what motivates this time? This is not about checking off a list of how many times I spend with God, nor is it a record of how much time I spend with Him as if the longer the time the more spiritual I am. It is about meeting with Him.
3. God sends Moses away with a purpose. Moses was to take the covenant stipulations to Israel and communicate them to Israel. Time with God is not about just making me feel good. Certainly there are times that God needs to heal our wounds and restore some dysfunction in our life, but Moses walks away with God’s commands and he was to share these with Israel. Sometimes it is tempting to make prayer all about ourselves. We want to feel good, we want God to affirm His love for us; we want him to fix things in our life. Often, we forget that God gives direction to life when we meet with Him in the same way God gave direction to Moses and the people of Israel. God reveals His purpose to us when we spend time with Him.
4. Moses was impacted in ways that he was completely unaware. We are told in verse 29 that his face shone like a light was radiating off it when he came down the mountain and he did not even know it. Obviously this was more secondary to the real issues going on, but his time with God impacted Moses in ways he could not even see. It was not until others saw him and were afraid (34:30) that he must have known something was different about himself as a result of spending time with God. Clearly Moses came down with the covenant commandments. This was his primary mission from God and to the people of Israel. This was his function, his mission, and his responsibility from God. But this experience had a more personal impact on him. The fact that his face shone indicated that God had made a deeply personal impact on Moses himself aside from ministry, mission and vision; this experience changed him personally. Our time with God must change us personally. If we walk away with a responsibility from God without being changed personally by God then something is wrong. In our culture everyone wants to accomplish something great for God but it is easy to miss being changed by God. Spending time with God is to be life-changing, not just a function of discipline.
Pastor Brad Little