Michelangelo’s Moses sculpture and other classical artworks often show Moses with horns. Why? Because the Hebrew words for “radiant” and “horn” look similar. The Vulgate, a fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible, rendered this word in today’s verse as “horns.” Instead of picturing Moses with a radiant face, centuries of puzzled readers pictured him with horns on his head!
Moses was unaware that his face was radiant because he’d been in God’s presence (v. 29). What the Israelites saw was essentially the afterglow of God’s glory. It was so bright that they couldn’t look steadily at him, as if he were a miniature sun. God was the sun, while Moses was only the moon, reflecting God’s light. Even so, the people responded to the brightness of Moses’ face with reverent fear, as often happens in Scripture when God reveals His glory (v. 30). They were afraid even to come near. Moses wore a veil to hide the radiance when he was interacting with them but then removed it when talking to the Lord (vv. 33–35). He also wore the veil so they wouldn’t see the light fading from his face and perhaps lose respect for him or God (2 Cor. 3:13).
Paul used Moses’ veil as a symbol of the Jews not understanding the purpose and spirit of the Law (2 Cor. 3:7–18). “To this day the same veil remains . . . It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.” But in the new covenant, this veil has been removed. The difference is Christ (see October 31)! Because of Christ, while Moses’ experience was temporary, we have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
>> Because of Christ, our relationship with God is different from that of Moses. Daily we “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). Rejoice in this truth!
Glorious God, we rejoice that there is no veil between You and us. We enjoy a personal, one-on-one relationship with You just as Moses did. May we likewise be transformed to reflect Your glory!