...[N]ot like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so the sons of Israel could not look at the end of what was fading away — 2 Corinthians 3:13
You know my love'll not fade away — Charles Hardin Holley
When Moses went into the Tabernacle and spent time there in the presence of the Lord, he was transformed. He absorbed so much of the glory of God that he began to glow with it. His face was filled with light that shone outward. The record in Exodus 34:29ff indicates that the observers were greatly disturbed by this phenomenon and fled from Moses in fear. Accordingly Moses covered his face so that he would not scare them. But Paul points out something more, that there was almost a shame on the part of Moses that this supernatural glow was bound to lessen, to decay as he was away from the Presence. As frightening as it might have been to see a man with light emanating from his face, it was a little disgusting to see him slowly return to normal.
The fact is that the flesh simply cannot contain the glory of God for an extended period of time. Either the glory must fade away, or the flesh must fade away. Most of the old-time, sincere Christians I knew were good folks of the fading variety. They were at church a minimum of three times a week and did some praying in between. Their frequent encounters with God kept their glow going, but they were always looking for the next recharge. They did not seem to be able to sustain the presence of God if they were not actively focused on Him in worship or praise, prayer or study.
I have met a few people along the way who, for whatever reason, seemed always to be on fire with the glory of God. They were like the bush that Moses encountered — burning but, seemingly, not consumed. And yet something is consumed. The old nature is like a volatile sap, or like oil in a wick that is constantly aflame, though the wick itself seems to endure. These are saints indeed, and rare.
Far more common these days are the good Christians who do not give much thought to the glory of God or to joy. They think that Christianity is about discipline and endurance and sacrifice and duty and seeing the whole horrid mess through until the bitter end. I am in deepest sympathy with those folks. I may be the poster child for them. I will do what's right if it kills me, and more and more I think it will. If I can't do any better, if this is the best I can do then I'll dig in and stick it out.
Still, dear God, what I'd give to just stand and burn.
I know He's right here. Here. Right now. I know that in Him — right now, I live and move. I know this life I think of as mine isn't. It is His. My God is a consuming fire. Why can't I burn?
Buddy's love will not fade away. How much less the love of God toward us. There is no need for the light ever to fade. They claim that the famous lightbulb at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth lasted so long because it was never turned out. If it's true of honky-tonk illumination, surely it must apply to us and the heavenly illumination in our being.
I won't say it is a failing on the part of the biblical revelation. The revelation is primarily an unveiling of truth. We are not often told how we are expected to feel. How does it feel to be on fire with light? To what may we liken the burn of illumination? Could it feel like this?
My hands were lifted up all night long; I refused to be comforted. I think of God; I groan; I meditate; my spirit becomes weak. You have kept me from closing my eyes; I am troubled and cannot speak. I consider days of old, years long past. At night I remember my music ...
Because, if it does, maybe I am burning after all. No doubt it would sometimes get a little smokey. Trim your lamps, He says. Sometimes it might ignite a little dross. The impurities might give off unpleasantness. Unhappy things might come out under stress.
The face of Moses, they said, shone with the glory of God. And Moses knew it not.
... not fade away ... not fade away ... not fade away ...