Exodus 34:33-34 Put a Vail On His Face
Posted by adventbiblestudy on December 6, 2012
Exodus 34:33-34 KJV And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. (34) But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
Once again Moses was on God’s mountain for forty days. This time Israel patiently waited. Something told them this was the day Moses would come down. What message would Moses have this time? They did not know God told Moses to, “Write down all these instructions, for they represent the terms of the covenant I am making with you and with Israel.” It wasn’t the first time God gave Israel the same commandments. Moses wondered why God was so patient with His people. Something told him it wasn’t his petition, but God’s love that saved Israel. Moses could see a major portion of these events were also a lesson for him to learn. Moses knew Israel needed more than the miracles and symbols God had been showing them. Israel needed some type of example. He wondered if he could ever live up to that expectation.
All Israel looked up at the cloud covering the top of the mountain with flashes of lightening and what looked like fire burning on the inside. This time they knew Moses would not be consumed, but would he come down from God’s mountain with a new message?
We cannot hope to understand this prophecy about Jesus until we look at the long series of events which led up to Israel asking Moses to wear a vail.
After two months of wondering through the wilderness God called Moses and Israel to His Holy Mountain. Moses told the people God would speak to them personally, so they will always know and trust God. On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. (Exodus 19:16 NLTse). God concealed His glory in a think cloud as He descended to the top of the mountain. That is when He personally spoke to Israel, giving them His ten commandments. When Moses came down from the mountain he expected to see a community ready to serve the Lord. After all they had been though, hearing God’s voice was the one thing they needed to solidify they faith.
Israel waited in the valley while Moses climbed down from the mountain after meeting with God. Much to his surprise, Israel was not excited to begin their serve to God, but acted fearful. Moses could not understand their fear. Moses was stunned when people told him, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19 NLTse). He had no idea what to say, or what to do. The shock of turning their backs on the God freeing them from Egypt was too much to comprehend. All Moses could think of saying was, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:20 NLTse). It took some time for Moses to accept their fear. Then he began telling them the message God gave him to deliver.
Explaining the commandments did not seem to make much of a difference. There was no reaction from most of the people. Some of them could see the relationship between their new freedom and God’s laws to guide them. Others felt God delivered them from Egypt only to serve Him. They were tired or rules and regulations and wanted nothing to do with them. After a while, God called Moses back to the top of the mountain.
During Moses’ second trip up God’s mountain, the display was kept to a minimum. God went over the laws with Moses again, telling him to write everything in a book. When Moses returned he repeated the words of the law. He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded. We will obey.” (Exodus 24:7 NLTse). Was this the answer Moses was looking for? Was it the answer God was looking for? If it was one thing Moses was learning, was his inability to lead. As the aged eyes of God’s prophet looked out over the vast number of families he was responsible for, the insufficient feeling almost overwhelmed him. If he had not witnessed the series of plagues controlled by God, opening the Red Sea, manna from heaven and water from the rock, he would have given up. One thing Moses was learning was how to put all his faith in God. He often lay awake at night, or stepped from his tent to look up at the pillar of fire guarding the pilgrims, not thinking about the problems he faced during the day, but the Infinite God he was beginning to understand. How much more was there to learn? The reason for the trials was becoming evident to Moses. As he looked up at God’s presence in the fiery pillar he wondered if he was really beginning to understand God. Moses knew God understood everything about him. God knew Moses could not lead alone any more than the people could keep the law through their own efforts.
Giving the right answer was not enough for God who knew the hearts of the people. God called Moses up to His Holy Mountain for the third time. As Moses climbed up to meet with God, something told him this was part of a test. Moses could tell the answer he received was not from the heart. During the entire journey Moses felt there was something he forgot to do. There was something more he could have done to prepare the people for his absence. For some reason he had a strange feeling about leaving Israel in the care of his brother Aaron. Moses did not know he would be absent for forty days.
During the time God gave Moses the pattern to build a Tabernacle. God provided very detailed descriptions of every detail including sizes, shapes, measurements, colors and numbers. God also gave Moses very explicate instructions for a number of ceremonies to be performed by the high priest, Aaron, and other services for the other priests. Each detail was carefully recorded. God also wrote His ten commandments in tables of stone and gave them to Moses to present them to Israel.
Moses had been praying for something to help teach the people about the faith growing in his heart. Moses felt this was the answer. Once the people saw the simplicity of the Tabernacle, they would understand a part of God’s true character. Moses stood in awe as he looked at the pattern God presented. The colors and patterns on the curtains showed God’s spender in Heaven, while the size and simple design represented how God understood and cared for His people. Moses was surprised as God showed him how the entire Tabernacle was designed to be dismantled and transported. In the entire design there was not a single detail too great to exceed Moses’ understanding, nor too small to be overlooked.
As Moses traveled down the mountain he thought about how the people would compare God’s simple Tabernacle to the immense structures Israel was forced to build for the Egyptian gods. How life times of labor were invested into the monuments, some of which remained unfinished. Others lying in ruin after the plagues. Moses thought of how the Tabernacle would forever be a symbol of how God overcame Egypt and all its gods with not only His power, but His love for His people.
Moses’ dreams were interrupted by the sounds coming from the valley below. To his surprise, many people gave up on God to worship a god of their own design. That is when Moses pleaded for Israel and God listened. After breaking the two stone tablets containing God’s commandments in the site of the people, Moses ground the gold idol into powder, mixed it with water and made the people drink their own wicked desires.
Then the LORD told Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones. I will write on them the same words that were on the tablets you smashed. (Exodus 34:1 NLTse). As a new believer I have to ask why God provided tablets of stone for the first set of commandments, but told Moses to chisel the second set himself and bring them to the top of His mountain. What was Israel’s reaction when Moses smashed the set of tablets with God’s law written with His finger. Did they learn any lesson at all? Was it a sign showing God knew they would break the law, even after they promised to follow all of the law?
This time Israel quietly waited. Moses came down the mountain with the set of tablets he left with, but now they had God’s law written on them. His face was dark, yet lite with a glow they had never seen. It was God’s glory shining through Moses to them. Aaron his brother and all the people were afraid of him because his face showed God’s glory, a reflection of the personal meeting Moses had with God. For some reason Israel still felt the same fear towards God they had when they first arrived at the mountain. At first it was a fear of God talking directly to them. Now it was a fear of seeing the effects of God talking to Moses. It seemed Israel was moving in the opposite direction.
Before Moses went up the mountain the Lord told them, “Listen, I am making a covenant with you in the presence of all your people. I will perform miracles that have never been performed anywhere in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people around you will see the power of the LORD–the awesome power I will display for you. (Exodus 34:10 NLTse).
All Israel saw was one little part of God’s glory and they claimed they were afraid. How could Israel be afraid of the little bit of God’s glory shining from Moses’ face when it took a series of plagues for the Egyptians to develop a fear and respect for God. It took all the plagues before Pharaoh gave up, and that was only for a time. For some reason God and Moses respected their request. When Moses finished speaking with them, he covered his face with a veil. But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he would remove the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the LORD had given him, and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the LORD. (Exodus 34:33-35 NLTse).
It seems kind of strange. Moses was already given the details for the Tabernacle which included a vail between the Holy and Most Holy. Was this always a feature, or was it placed there for a specific reason, for a specific time?
Exodus 26:30-33 NLTse “Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain. (31) “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. (32) Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. (33) Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.
Is there a connection between the vail over Moses’ face and the vail between the Holy and the Most Holy, the vail Jesus came to remove?
Matthew 27:50-51 KJV Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. (51) And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;