Faces Lighted Up

Sometimes when we study a topic and do what we believe to be sufficient research, we think that we have the subject matter down pat, perfectly understood. Then the Lord will tell us to get back to that subject, and He shows us other angles from which that same topic can be viewed, and we begin to realize that God’s truth is much deeper than we can ever imagine. Every aspect of truth about which we may be aware today has a much deeper depth to it than our simple minds are capable of grasping. But we do thank God for His mercy, and, in His goodness, He allows us to get glimpses of the depth of His mind by the little things He allows us to see.

1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us that certain things happen as examples: “They are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Experiences pertaining to ancient Israel, both the good and the bad, were meant to be examples for us. Lessons were wrapped up in those things from which we can learn. Many times we talk about the bad things that took place with ancient Israel and their journey to the land of Canaan, but there were good things too. There were good things as well as bad things involving the leaders. Consider the good leaders such as Joshua, Moses, and the prophets. They did some marvelous things. God used them in certain ways and made Himself manifest through them in ways we do not often stop to study. Are these examples unto us too?

Good Examples Too

For example, when Moses returned from Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments, his face was lighted up! Is it possible that this is an example? Or are we just to consider the fact that when he came down to the camp the noise from the Israelites sounded to Joshua as though they were in war, but to Moses as though they were in apostasy. Is it possible that it is not just the bad that God wants us to see, but also the good?

Let us look in our Bibles at the incidence involving Moses’ face being lit up.

“And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And [till] Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel [that] which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.” Exodus 34:28–35.

The Scriptures make it quite clear; this was not just a light on Moses’ face, but Moses’ skin, the skin of his face, shined. Can you imagine that? It was as though you were looking straight at the sun when you were looking on another human being’s face, and the light was emanating from his or her skin. This meant that the glory of God, with which Moses came in contact, basically penetrated his skin, and it remained there to the extent that, the Scriptures tell us, when the children of Israel came to meet him they were afraid of him. Moses knew nothing; he had no idea why they would not approach him, until they revealed to him the problem. Then, in his compassion and meekness, he took action to cover his face, so he could communicate with them and give them the information that God so graciously had imparted for them.

What is the meaning of this for us? What I want to share with you is that, both symbolically and literally, there is a message for us today wrapped up in Moses’ example.

Wonderful Possibilities

We often take for granted all the wonderful things the Lord has in store for us at the end time. Because we have been so exposed to the sins and folly of our age, we tend to bypass the fact that marvelous things await us in the Word of God. Ellen White put it this way: “Wonderful possibilities are open to those who lay hold of the divine assurances of God’s word. There are glorious truths to come before the people of God. Privileges and duties which they do not even suspect to be in the Bible will be laid open before them. As they follow on in the path of humble obedience, doing His will, they will know more and more of the oracles of God.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 322.

One of these wonderful possibilities is that some, if not all of us, will one day have the experience of Moses. Can you imagine that? The skin will be shining. The faces of the children will appear as bright stars to their friends. The adults may be looking like the sun or the moon to their families, friends, and even enemies. Remember what we are told in Exodus about Moses—his friends were afraid. They were pained by what they saw and could not look upon his face. It was too bright to them.

The Book of Corinthians reveals what was symbolically wrapped up in all of this: “But if the ministration of death, written [and] engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which [glory] was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?” 11 Corinthians 3:7, 8.

Before we read on, just consider for a moment. We are being told that there are two different manifestations of the glory. What Moses had portrayed was basically in connection with the glory pertaining to the Lord.

“For if the ministration of condemnation [be] glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away [was] glorious, much more that which remaineth [is] glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, [which] put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [vail] is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Verses 9–18.

What message is the Lord trying to convey to us? That what happened in the time of Moses was basically the type or an example of what is going to happen in the New Testament era. That which took place in the Old Testament was only a measure of the manifestation of the glory of God—a measure when compared with what will happen later on, which will exceed what happened in the past. What we need to understand, with the help of the Spirit of Prophecy, is that the phenomena of Moses’ lighted face is not going to be limited to the Law of God transferring from stone to the flesh. This same law, which God made personally available to His people anciently with His personal presence, enabled this man Moses to be lit up. His own skin shone, and the Scripture is telling us that in the New Testament era something more is going to happen, because that same law is not going to be in stone but will be inside the hearts of human beings with the help of the Holy Spirit. When that happens, do you not think that it is going to make itself manifest in the features of those who have the law now placed inside?

Experience of Pioneers

An illustration from the past is given to us by Ellen White, which reveals that the early Adventists under the Millerite movement had their faces lit up! It is an example of what will happen in the end of time. “Those who were obedient to the message stood out free and united. A holy light shone upon them. They renounced the world, sacrificed their earthly interests, gave up their earthly treasures, and directed their anxious gaze to heaven, expecting to see their loved Deliverer. A holy light beamed upon their countenances, telling of the peace and joy which reigned within.” Early Writings, 249, 250.

Were you aware that Adventists had this experience in the early, historical days? And why did they have this experience? Inspiration tells us why; each person had made a total surrender. They were not playing church. They had an experience with God that far surpassed what we claim to have. Because God was pleased with them, He made his glory shine forth from their countenances.

They were just under the former rain, and we are preparing for something more than that, the Latter Rain. Is it possible that the glory that shall shine forth from us will exceed what the early pioneers had? Is it possible that when the enemies of God look upon His people who have made a total surrender to Him, they will be able to see such brightness as to find themselves in pain to look upon these people, because they themselves may not be willing to make a surrender? Is it possible?

From Joel 2, we may begin to understand the possibility of what can really happen and what can cause it to happen: “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them [is] as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.” Verses 1–6.

I wondered, Why? The only time I could correlate to this situation was what happened to the children of Israel in the time of Moses. Somehow the glory of Moses caused his brethren to be very uncomfortable. I believe Joel is prophesying that when God gets His real army together, they will bring discomfort. By their appearance, by God manifesting Himself through them, the wicked will be caused discomfort.

Relating what she had been shown in vision, Ellen White penned: “When God spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God, as Moses’ did when he came down from Mount Sinai.” Early Writings, 15. [Emphasis added.] History will be repeated. What happened in Moses’ day, will happen again. What we saw prophesied in the Book of Corinthians happened in the time of the Millerite movement, and that prophecy will find itself repeated even in the end time. Notice, however, that only those who have made a total surrender to God will hear the voice of the Master revealing the day and hour.

The Character of God

“The Ten Commandments are called in the New Testament the royal law of liberty. In obeying the divine precepts, men will assimilate to the divine character; for the character of God is expressed in his holy law.” The Signs of the Times, October 17, 1895.

“The ten holy precepts spoken by Christ upon Sinai’s mount were the revelation of the character of God.” Sons and Daughters of God, 53.

The Ten Commandments reveal God’s character. If God gets a people, therefore, who have made a total surrender—they are not afraid to make the kind of changes that the rest of the world does not want to make; they are not afraid to give up the things of this world; they are not afraid to commit themselves to the requirements of God’s Law and the Testimony of Jesus—then what they have ahead of them are marvelous blessings from God, things that we cannot even imagine.

We are only skimming the surface. Yes, we know we will have power, but have we known that our faces, the skin of our faces, will shine? Yes, we know the day will come when we will be changed, and we will be like Him, but this is speaking in the context of having incorruptible bodies. We are dealing with time before that occurs, because when the voice of the Lord reveals to His people the day and the hour, that is before Jesus comes!

The world will have a perfect replica of the Master in His people before He comes. They will not only see Him in the words and works, but they will also see Him in the glory that will rest upon them, the glory of God. “When God spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God, as Moses’ did when he came down from Mount Sinai.”

Ellen White leaves no room to doubt that there will be a repetition of what transpired on Mount Sinai with Moses. What a privilege! I cannot imagine anyone who would not want to have a part in this experience, who would not want to know that the glory of God will rest on them on this side of the heavenly border.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1, 2. Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God! Whenever we read verses such as these, we generally place the time at the Second Coming. But based upon what we have seen thus far, it is going to be made available to people even before Jesus bursts through the clouds. This glory of God will be made available to us even before Christ comes. What a privilege! What an opportunity! No wonder the devil has caused so much havoc in the Adventist world.

We just read about peace in Romans; now read Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Why is this so important to us? What did Ellen White say concerning the Millerites when the light of Christ or the glory of God rested upon them? She said that a holy light beamed upon their countenances telling of the peace and joy which reigned within.

Inner Peace

We do not have peace unless we have Christ. Every Adventist who was involved in the Millerite movement had Christ within. It was not just by word or theory; it was an experience. The very same thing will be the case of those who will have the glory of God rest upon them in these last days. They will have the peace and the joy of the Lord in their hearts. Not only that, but the Law of God will be perfectly reflected, because they will have the character of God fully established within them. So, the glory of God will basically be a reflection of God through the presence of His Spirit within His people who have made a total surrender to Him.

Ellen White made this statement: “Happiness drawn from earthly sources is as changeable as varying circumstances can make it; but the peace of Christ is a constant and abiding peace. It does not depend upon any circumstances in life, on the amount of worldly goods or the number of earthly friends. Christ is the fountain of living water, and happiness drawn from Him can never fail.” Reflecting Christ, 263.

So, we have either a temporary happiness or a permanent happiness. We are assured of permanent happiness if we do God’s will, because Christ will come and live in us. We talk about how much we love Jesus and how we have Jesus in our hearts, but do we have peace and joy? Why is the glory of God not reflecting from us? It is because we have not made a total surrender. God has many gifts and blessings reserved just for us, if only we would totally surrender our lives to Him.

Experience of the Saints

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” Matthew 17:1, 2. This very thing will be the experience of the saints. Their faces will be shining, as did Moses’. You see, Jesus had it, but Jesus’ shining face was described “as the sun.” How could it have been described any other way, when He is the source of peace, the source of joy, the source of light, the source of life? He is the fullness of the manifestation of the character of God.

“Servants of God, endowed with power from on high with their faces lighted up, and shining with holy consecration, went forth to proclaim the message from heaven.” Early Writings, 278, 279. This will be the experience of those in the last days who will be going forward to proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages. With faces lighted up, they will proclaim the Law of God. No wonder Joel said, “Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.” The people cannot deny that these are not ordinary people. They have met Somebody!

Continuing with the quote: “Souls that were scattered all through the religious bodies answered to the call, and the precious were hurried out of the doomed churches, as Lot was hurried out of Sodom before her destruction.” Ibid., 279.

Can you see that this quote is referring to the Loud Cry? Note that the first part of the reference says the “servants of God,” not every member of the church. Only those who have qualified will have “their faces lighted up.” It amazes me to hear churches proclaiming that the Loud Cry is now being given. Their faces are not lighted up! Those lighted up faces in the time of the early Advent movement Ellen White said indicated that the people had experienced the peace and joy, because they had made a total surrender.

Like Him

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2. Does this verse not now take on a whole new meaning for us? We shall be like Him. We shall be like Him not only in character, but also in appearance. And then we will go a step further than just having our faces lit up; we shall be transformed. Oh, how much we shall be like Him!

Pastor Patrick Herbert is the senior pastor of the Tucker-Norcross Adventist Church and Director of the Gilead Institute of America, a medical missionary evangelistic training institution located in Norcross, Georgia. He holds a Doctorate in religion and speaks and writes on a wide range of religious and health topics. He may be contacted by e-mail at: gilead.net@usa.net.