A prominent narrative throughout Scripture is of God revealing his character to the world.
Before Christ, this was done primarily through holy people and holy places. The Ark, the temple, and the prophets were God’s chosen instruments to display his justice, mercy, and love to the world.
Yet we see in the disciples that Jesus chooses common people and common places to share his message of redemption.
God continues calling common people and using common places to reveal himself today.
What changed that allows all of us to be radiant with the reflection of God’s character today?
And what does it mean for our daily work and lives?
God’s Radiance in the Temple
Biblical authors in both the New and Old Testaments use an interesting word to describe these holy people and holy places that reflect God’s attributes: radiance.
In this context, radiance is defined as a perfect reflection of God, the exact representation of his being.
God first uses it to describe his earthly dwelling place, the Temple of Solomon on Mount Zion.
Then the glory of the LORD rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD.
– Ezekiel 10:4, NIV
The temple court reflected God perfectly. It was radiant with his presence.
The same is true of God’s law.
God’s Radiance in the Law
The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
– Psalm 19:7-8, NIV
The Law was the reflection of God’s character on earth. His commands were radiant with his presence.
Aren’t we glad that we have a set of laws that reflect not just the justice of God but also his mercy and love?
Next we go to Moses, the law-bringer.
God’s Radiance in Moses
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD…. When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant.
– Exodus 34:29, 33-35a, NIV
Moses was so relationally close to God that his face reflected God’s character. Yet when he walked among the people, he had to cover God’s radiance with a veil.
There was a separation between the radiance of God’s glory in Moses and the rest of God’s people on earth.
God’s Radiance in Jesus Christ
God’s character was too holy, too bright, to expose in a hopeless world. So God descended from his throne to bring his perfect Glory to earth.
In Jesus, we again see the perfect radiance of God, now in human form.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
– Hebrews 1:3a, NIV
When Jesus bore God’s wrath on the cross, the veil was torn between the temple and the world outside.
The perfect reflection of God, his radiance, came out of the temple and into the hearts of saints around the world.
Paul captures it best.
We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away… So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
– 2 Corinthians 3:13, 18a, NLV
Now we have the radiance of Christ.
Through the Holy Spirit, we can display the character of our God to the world. We have the opportunity and responsibility to unveil God to the world through our words and our actions.
This means when we open the doors of our small business on Monday morning to sell products that meet a need in the community, we radiate God’s provision.
When we invite our neighbors in to our homes and serve them dinner, we are radiating God’s compassion.
When we work to improve our local, state, or national government, we are radiating God’s justice.
So in our work, in our leisure, in our lives, let us radiate God’s character to the world.