Q. Why did Moses put on a veil when he spoke to the Israelites, but take it off when he spoke with God?
The story is recorded in Ex 34:33-35:
• When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.
The explanation is given in 2 Co 3:
• v 7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,
• v 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.
• v 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
• v 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Moses put on a veil because he did not want the sons of Israel to see the glory of his face was fading. He wants them to obey God’s commands through him, so he hid the fading glory from them. Whenever he spoke to the LORD, he took off the veil so that his face would reflect God’s glory, and he was transformed from glory to glory. This is true of us too. Whenever we commune with God through His word and prayer, His word transforms us and we are conformed more and more to Christ’s image. This is called sanctification. However, when we do not abide in Christ, we become more conformed to this world and do not reflect His glory (Rom 12:2).