Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him....And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. - Exodus 34:30, 33-35
So much of our identity is tied into our faces. We might have a hard time recognizing voices but when we see faces, there's always a familiarity that can be found. Blind people touch faces as a way to recognize others. Our phones can now be regularly unlocked via facial recognition. Our culture has a huge preoccupation with our own faces. The ubiquity of taking selfies has led to tourist destinations littered with people wielding three foot long poles with cameras at the end of them, making one wonder if we truly find ourselves to be more beautiful than anything else in the world. Botox and plastic surgery is common place, demanded by and expected for wealthy housewives.
The face is an important body part in Scripture as well. To bow your head and avert your face from the gaze of another was a way of showing deference or revealing shame toward another, a practice familiar with those in Asian cultures. Seeing God's face meant beholding hope, receiving blessing, and looking upon Him with faith and trust. To be the one God looks upon is to be a recipient of His delight and joy.
For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. - Psalm 11:7
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! - Psalm 80:3
This is what we want right? To receive see our God face to face, to know His blessing and glory and joy. Yet what we see with Moses, the one who God "used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend," (Exodus 33:11) is that this blessed relationship meant his face was never the same again. His identity was altered as he grew closer to his God. Nobody would see his face and see Moses. Instead, they would see the glory of God.
Our handicaps and disfigurements are often emblems of shame, despair, and frustration. Yet the light that shined off the face of Moses (which again didn't make him beautiful to look at but impossible to look at) served to show the grace and blessing of God. In so many ways, the parts of our life that we want to hide and put a veil over are often the parts that God wants to pull back and show the world. They're the places where God demonstrates that His grace is sufficient for us, greater than our wounds and scars.
The only reason why this is a reality for the Christian is because of Jesus. What was shown on Moses' face in a manner that the people could not fully comprehend, God the Father has fully displayed in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:6
The glory of God that people could only see in part when they looked at Moses, we can fully behold in Jesus. And while we go about this life beholding him only by faith, the promise of redemption is that there will be a day when we will behold our Savior by sight.
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. - Revelation 22:3-4
Until then, know that God is at work in you, where you, "with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) That which God's people once could not stand is now the blessing we all receive in Christ. Take hold of this truth and shine forth the glory of our God before all the world!