by John Mehl on October 10, 2022
This past weekend at Timberline Windsor was a message that I just couldn’t wait to share. Not that other messages aren’t like that, but there was something about the energy and the excitement that built through the message that just burst forth in excited, and even undignified, praise! (Maybe part of it was in the way that our TimberKids helped us culminate things with their tambourines and energy.)
But taking things back even further than that, as I prepared for this message, I found myself celebrating and exulting the basis and the reason that we have for such energetic and even fun celebration: God Almighty rejoices over us, quiets us with his love, and sings over us — loudly (Zephaniah 3:14-17)! That’s absolutely tremendous! (I’ll stop soon with all the exclamation points… maybe.)
If you and I can really allow that word picture of God singing over us to sink in, it will leave us absolutely stunned. For the King of kings and Lord of lords to look upon us, know us intimately — even better than we know ourselves — and not only still find favor with us but “exult over us with loud singing”, words fail to describe that scene of celebration. Even very real and present trials and tribulations can’t rob us of the joy that that brings.
As a piece that we didn’t expand on in this weekend’s message (a bonus for those of you reading this), I want to look back at another encounter of a very personal, excited, and impactful scene of worship found in Exodus 34. Moses functioned as the representative on behalf of the people of Israel in the presence of the Lord. This wasn’t their first personal encounter together. Moses and God had apparently been very communicative (see burning bush, ten plagues, ten commandments, etc.). And, because of his encounters and conversations with the Lord, Moses’s very appearance had been altered (v. 29-30).
Don’t move too quickly past this scene. Moses, apparently unaware of his altered physical appearance, came back to speak with the people to share the message and the heart that he had encountered from the Lord. In a time where proximity to — let alone intimate relationship with — Yahweh was distant and perhaps even frightening, this man had very special and unique access in direct connection with the Lord. He was able to personally experience the tone, the heart, and the purposes that God desired for his people. And all the while, little did he know, his very skin was changing — like a divine sunburn. As soon as Moses returned to the people of Israel, they squinted and shielded their faces away from the brightness of Moses’s countenance. It was uncomfortable for them to look directly at Moses, and all the words and intentions that Moses had to share with them from the Lord were overwhelmed by the distraction of his appearance.
So, very practically, they came up with a simple plan: Moses needed a veil.
Here’s where we need to be able to have a little humor, or at least lightheartedness, with this scene. Can you picture this exalted leader, walking around the camp of Israel, with a cloth veil covering his shining face? Did it light up the dark? Were there friends that dared to ‘take a peek’ and see how long they could stand gazing upon the brightness? Did the back-and-forth movement with every breath become too much for Moses so that he would need to escape and take a break from his face covering?
But there the veil remained — as long as he generally walked among the people. But when Moses went before the Lord, the veil was removed (v. 34). Back in the intimacy and the power of the relationship between God and Moses, no barrier was needed or even appropriate. I can just picture the relief, the rejuvenation, and the celebration that Moses must have felt every time he would come to this point of removing the veil and coming before the Lord: ‘Here we are again, O Sovereign Lord. Together, unveiled, with the mighty God of Israel. Your love and purpose shining brightly upon your servant and your people.’
Unveiled in worship.
What a refreshing scene this is to picture in light of the basis that we have for celebration in this Playlist series! (Here come the exclamation points again…)
Like Moses, we have the confidence and the boldness (Hebrews 4:16) before the same presence and power of God Almighty. Even those of us who have been wayward, distant, shielding the uncomfortable light of God from our eyes, we are drawn near to the Father by the blood and the love of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). And, maybe this is the best part of all, 2 Corinthians 3:18: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image.” Read that verse again, slowly this time.
Behold the intimacy and the power of the connection that the Lord Almighty pursues with you. Soak in the love, intentions, and even the celebration that the Lord shows you. Allow it to change your very appearance. Maybe it’s even okay if the joy and celebration that you draw from being so close with the Lord actually makes others see something different about you. We’re not just after a divine-tanning-experience, we are people that are seeking to bask in the presence and the loud song of our Lord over us.
We have tremendous reason to celebrate with all of our passion and by casting away all reservations. As our campuses and our congregations continue to proclaim throughout this Playlist series - Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!