a covenant of intimacy

Last Sunday after Epiphany

Exodus 34:29-35

Psalm 99

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

Luke 9:28-36

Deb pointed out at Wednesday Bible Study something none of us had ever noticed. Moses does not veil his face to speak to the Israelites. I had always read that and assumed it was because of their fear that he veiled his face. However, it is quite clear that he unveils his face both to converse with God and then to report that conversation to the gathered people. Only as he goes about the rest of whatever he does, does he veil his face.

Presumably his face shines because some of God’s glory rubs off on him. But the people get to see that glory. They have no more fear of dying in the presence of God’s glory than does Moses. We wondered if Moses might be taking (as Israel’s representative) the role of wife in the marriage with God (cf. Hosea, and lots of other prophetic literature). When he is around the home compound, he goes unveiled (speaking with Israel — intimacy applies here as well as with God). Outside the compoud (in the camp), he veils his face.

This is his second trip up the mountain. The first time down, he smashed the tablets. Perhaps now, the covenant is seen as not just rules, but intimacy.

Fits, then, that we read 1 Cor 13, most often heard at weddings. Then we will see face to face, and recognize just as we are completely recognized.

The voice on the mountain of transfiguration says to Jesus essentially what it said to him at his baptism. By baptism, we are all children of God and transfigured. It is that intimacy that cause our faces to shine. This is not the usual moral gruel that passes for religion in America — not a covenant of rules but of intimacy with God.

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