Knysna Methodist Church – lectionary notes – 27.2.2022
Moses’ encounter with God was so powerful that his face shone. It was so bright that people were afraid to come near him. When a life is lived with God, people can see it in a believer’s physical appearance. The peace, joy, love and goodness of being in close proximity to God will be evident to those around. Moses’ face reflected the glory of God. He himself was unaware of this. He was a humble man and it was his humility that made such radiance possible. If he had been proud, he would not have reflected God’s glory.
The people had turned away from Moses because they were afraid of what had happened to him. Now he called the leaders back to him and passed on God’s commandments to them. Moses covered his glowing face with a veil when he was with the people, only taking it off when he was alone with God.
The psalm opens with a statement of faith. The Lord reigns and He is present. His presence is so powerful that both people and the earth tremble in awe. The sanctuary where this happens could be the heavenly sanctuary or the one in the tabernacle or the temple. The cherubim surrounding the Lord are mighty angelic warriors.
God has a special affection for Jerusalem, the city of hills, where He is high above the people. The Lord is great and the people worship Him because He is holy. Holy has an element of being set apart and emphasises the distance between God and man. Holiness is the essence of who God is. The phrase ‘He is holy’ is repeated twice more in the psalm, as if it is a chorus sung by the people.
God has ensured justice among His people in the past, does so now, and will continue to do so. As people realise the power, holiness and goodness of God they are led to worship Him. God’s footstool could be the Ark of the Covenant, Jerusalem, or the earth itself. Again the refrain about God’s holiness is repeated,
Moses, Aaron and David are named as being men who called on the name of God, interceding on behalf of Israel, and God answered them. David calls them obedient, yet he still calls God the God-who-Forgives, for each of these men was disciplined in one way or another.
Once again the holiness of God is declared. The holiness of God is proclaimed three times in this psalm (see also Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8). In Hebrew to repeat something three times is to give it tremendous emphasis.
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
The New Covenant which was defined by Jesus enabled people to approach God as individuals with boldness and hope. Whilst the Old Covenant restricted people’s access to God, the New Covenant would open the way to God for all people forever.
Moses wore a veil because the Old Covenant was fading away and losing its glory. Paul wrote that most of the Jews of his time were unable to see the glory of the New Covenant. They were looking through a veil that was too heavy. Tradition blinded them. But through Jesus, whose death ripped apart the curtain of the Holy of Holies in the temple and opened up access to God, God enables people to turn and look at Him and see His glory. There is no longer a veil between people and God.
Under the New Covenant, people now have the freedom to come into the Lord’s presence at any time.
But, in spite of this, believers are not able to see God’s glory perfectly. In the time of Paul, a mirror gave a blurred image. Paul says this is how people see God now. The more time they spend with Him, the more they will be transformed by His glory. In this way, they increasingly take on His image and they become more like Him. This is a process that takes time as God works in them through the Holy Spirit.
Paul was very aware of the importance of his calling and this gave him the courage to preach boldly. He knew this was not because there was anything special about him but that God, in His mercy, had chosen him to deliver His message. So when Paul preached, he did so humbly and honestly. He only preached the truth. He knew that, deep down people would recognise the truth of his words, even if they rejected them. But even more, he knew that what he preached was spoken in front of God and this was the most important thing to Paul.
Jesus, Peter, James and John climbed to the top of the mountain together to pray. The mountain is not named but it is likely that it is either Mt. Tabor, to the west of the Sea of Galilee, or Mt. Hermon, north of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus’ appearance changed and He shone like a brilliant white light. For a short time He looked more like God than man. Somehow the disciples recognised the two men who appeared with Jesus as Moses and Elijah. Various explanations have been given over time as to why these two men should be the ones who appeared, but it may be that Moses represented the Law and Elijah the Prophets. The three discussed Jesus’ approaching death.
In the meantime the disciples slept. What did they miss? What else was discussed on the mountain top? There is no record, but the meeting may have lasted a great deal longer than it seems from the account that exists.
Peter put his foot in it. It seemed as if he wanted the glory to continue. He made the mistake of putting Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus by suggesting three tabernacles. As was so often the case, he did not understand.
God’s cloud descended on them. The glory intensified and the three men became increasingly afraid. God’s focus was on His Son. Moses and Elijah were human – Jesus is the Son of God. The men are told to hear what Jesus said. After these words, Jesus was once again alone. The three disciples did not tell anyone what they had seen. But they remembered and wrote about it later (2 Peter 1:16-18; John 1:14).
Points to Ponder
• Have you ever experienced a moment when you have felt so close to God that your whole being ‘shone’ with
His reflected presence? If so, why did that moment come about? If not, ask God to draw closer to you in a
moment of shared prayer, not for your glory but for His.
• God is holy. How often do you think of God in this light? Has He become an everyday name for you because
you spend so much time with Him? Do you worship Him in awe or as a matter of habit? What does holiness mean
to you? Share a few ideas of the holiness of God with one another. How does this change the way you think
• How has the time you spend with God changed over the years since you first believed? What is the most
precious aspect of your time with Him? How does He communicate with you?
• How do you feel when you have an intimate experience of God – a ‘mountain top’ experience? How do you feel
when you come down from that time back to ordinary life?
• The three disciples did not speak of this experience to anyone. There is no record of Jesus telling them
not to say anything. Could you have kept quiet about such an amazing event? Who would you tell? Why would
you choose these people (this person) to tell?
Exodus 34; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3; Luke 9