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Moses 26 – Show Me Your Glory


Let us refresh our minds with the last few verses of Exodus 32 before moving to chapter 33.

Verse 31,32 And Moses returned to the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if you will forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray you, out of your book which you have written.

Verses 33-35 And the LORD said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you: behold, my Angel shall go before you: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin on them. And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

At times we only look at the judgments, the punishments. But what are benefits of discipline? I was impressed with the following statement.

“Had not the evil been promptly put away, they would soon have fallen a prey to their numerous and powerful foes. It was necessary for the good of Israel, and also as a lesson to all succeeding generations, that crime should be promptly punished. And it was no less a mercy to the sinners themselves that they should be cut short in their evil course. Had their life been spared, the same spirit that led them to rebel against God would have been manifested in hatred and strife among themselves, and they would eventually have destroyed one another. It was in love to the world, in love to Israel, and even to the transgressors, that crime was punished with swift and terrible severity.” {PP 325.3}

God who knows the ultimate outcome of rebellion, is so gracious and kind when He meets out punishment at the right time.

Exodus 33:1 And the LORD said to Moses, Depart, and go up hence, you and the people which you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, To your seed will I give it:

God would remain true to the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 12:7; 26:3; 28:13).

Verses 2,3 And I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: To a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the middle of you; for you are a stiff necked people: lest I consume you in the way.

In deep sadness the people had buried their dead. Three thousand had fallen by the sword; a plague had soon after broken out in the encampment; and now the message came to them that the divine Presence would no longer accompany them in their journeyings. Jehovah had declared, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.”

In love God tells Israel it is best that He not go with them. Should they again violate His covenant, His direct presence would mean their complete destruction. There are times when God in mercy withdraws from us. He never forces Himself upon us (Matt. 13:53–58).

Verse 4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.

The Israelites began to realize what separation from the Lord meant. “An angel” seemed not to promise the assurance that God Himself could give. There was deep sorrow for their transgression. Repentance is an indispensable condition for restoration to divine favor, for there can be no salvation without it (Luke 13:5; Acts 3:19; Rev. 2:5, 16).

In penitence and humiliation the people “put off” their “ornaments.” The removal of ornaments implies mourning and reformation (Gen. 35:4; Eze. 26:16). The men were probably wearing armlets, bracelets, and anklets. The latter were worn by men in Egypt.

Verse 5 For the LORD had said to Moses, Say to the children of Israel, You are a stiff necked people: I will come up into the middle of you in a moment, and consume you: therefore now put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what to do to you.

In response to Israel’s apparent repentance God assured them that they would not be utterly forsaken.

His seeming reluctance to accept their change of heart was due to the fact that repentance had not as yet gone deep enough (see Hosea 6:4; 7:8, 14–16).

By delay it was God’s purpose to create in their hearts a deeper longing for fellowship with Him (see Joel 2:12, 13; Hosea 10:12; DA 200).

Verse 6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

This implies that the Israelites discontinued the use of ornaments, for a time at least, in token of their sincere purpose to obey God.

Verse 7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that everyone which sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

This was a tent used temporarily, until completion of the more permanent “tent of meeting”. Moses could not always be ascending Mt. Sinai to meet with God, for the camp needed his superintending care, especially at this time.

The fact that the tent was moved “afar off from the camp” symbolized the removal of God’s presence from the people, because of their iniquity. By the divine direction the tent that had served as a temporary place of worship was removed “afar off from the camp.”

This was still further evidence that God had withdrawn His presence from them. He would reveal Himself to Moses, but not to such a people.

The rebuke was keenly felt, and to the conscience-smitten multitudes it seemed a foreboding of greater calamity. Had not the Lord separated Moses from the camp that He might utterly destroy them? But they were not left without hope. The tent was pitched without the encampment, but Moses called it “the tabernacle of the congregation.”

All who were truly penitent, and desired to return to the Lord, were directed to repair thither to confess their sins and seek His mercy. When they returned to their tents Moses entered the tabernacle. With agonizing interest the people watched for some token that his intercessions in their behalf were accepted.

If God should condescend to meet with him, they might hope that they were not to be utterly consumed. When the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the entrance of the tabernacle, the people wept for joy, and they “rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door.”
Verse 8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.

In fear and trembling the Israelites centered their attention upon the tent of meeting to see whether God would receive their representative and grant them a sign of reinstatement to His favor.

The very fact that the withdrawal of God’s presence was so keenly felt by the people gave promise of genuine repentance.

Verse 9 And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

Can you see that huge cloudy pillar descending? With agonizing interest the people watched for some token that his intercessions in their behalf were accepted. If God should condescend to meet with him, they might hope that they were not to be utterly consumed. This sign, now familiar to the people, was evidence to them that the Lord would continue to be their guide and protector (ch. 13:21, 22).

Verse 10 And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.

When the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the entrance of the tabernacle, the people wept for joy, and they “rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door.” {PP 327.2}

Moses knew well the perversity and blindness of those who were placed under his care; he knew the difficulties with which he must contend. But he had learned that in order to prevail with the people, he must have help from God. He pleaded for a clearer revelation of God’s will and for an assurance of His presence:

Verses 12,13 And Moses said to the LORD, See, you say to me, Bring up this people: and you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, I know you by name, and you have also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found grace in your sight, show me now your way, that I may know you, that I may find grace in your sight: and consider that this nation is your people.

Verses 12 and 13 are an example of the intimate way in which Moses talked with God (Num. 12:8).

Friendship with God gives men boldness in approaching Him, for true friendship casts out fear (Heb. 4:15, 16; 1 John 4:18). Moses earnestly desired full information as to what the Lord intended to do with His people, and who would be appointed to lead them.

Moses felt the Lord would surely reveal this if, as He had said, Moses now “found grace” in His sight. Moses reminded God that “this nation is thy people,” so implying God’s responsibility toward them.

Verse 14 And he said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.

What a beautiful comforting message. The request of Moses is granted. God’s own presence would go with them, and also give them “rest,” that is, possession of the land of Canaan (Deut. 3:20; 12:9, 10; 25:19; Heb. 4:8).

Exodus 33:15 And he said to him, If your presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.

But Moses was not yet satisfied. There pressed upon his soul a sense of the terrible results should God leave Israel to hardness and impenitence.

He could not endure that his interests should be separated from those of his brethren, and he prayed that the favor of God might be restored to His people, and that the token of His presence might continue to direct their journeyings:

Verse 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and your people have found grace in your sight? is it not in that you go with us? so shall we be separated, I and your people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth.

Separated? That is, distinct from all other nations. Why? Because God’s presence was with them, and they were His people (19:5,6).

Verse 17 And the LORD said to Moses, I will do this thing also that you have spoken: for you have found grace in my sight, and I know you by name.

God agreed to Moses’ plea. Moses’ “effectual fervent prayer” had availed “much” (James 5:16). He did not “faint,” and his petition was granted (Luke 18:1).

Importunate prayers, especially those on behalf of others, are a demonstration of faith. Such were those of Abraham for Sodom (Gen. 18:23–33), Daniel for his people (Dan. 9:4–19), and Christ for His disciples (John 17).

Moses was a personal friend of God. In Oriental lands even more than in the West, personal acquaintance serves to open doors that would otherwise remain closed.

Verse 18 And he said, I beseech you, show me your glory.

Still the prophet did not cease pleading. Every prayer had been answered, but he thirsted for greater tokens of God’s favour. He now made a request that no human being had ever made before: “I beseech you, show me your glory.”

Though God had graciously answered his prayers in behalf of Israel, Moses longed for further evidence of divine favor. He had already been in the very presence of God on repeated occasions, but a solemn realization of the task that was his made him feel the need of an even closer fellowship with God.

This led to a request that no man had made hitherto, something Moses felt would be strength to him in his appointed task. He had asked much for his people; it was not inappropriate that he should now ask for himself assurance that his labors would meet with success.

He knew well that no earthly power could take the place of God’s abiding presence and of the knowledge that comes from personal fellowship with Him (Jer. 9:23, 24).

Too often it is a guilty conscience that makes us shrink from the presence of the Lord of life. So it was with our first parents when they “hid themselves” (Gen. 3:8).

It was because the life of Moses was in harmony with the will of his Maker that he stood in the presence of the Lord and was not afraid.

The more a man knows of God, the more he longs to know. In the divine presence there is “fullness of joy,” and at His “right hand” there are “pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).

Verse 19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

What may appear to have been presumption was not so in the case of Moses. Mutual love and respect drew both Creator and creature together.

My goodness. Literally, “my beauty” or “my excellence.” The LXX has “my glory.”

Verse 20 And he said, You cannot see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

If at the appearance of one angel the Roman soldiers at the tomb of the risen Christ “became as dead men” (Matt. 28:4), what might be expected when sinful man is ushered into the very presence of God? Jacob marveled when he saw God “face to face” and yet lived (Gen. 32:30).

Verse 21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on a rock:

When visiting Sinai I wondered where this place could have been.

Verse 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by:

The various precautions here mentioned were for the purpose of protecting Moses. Man has never seen the Lord’s face (John 1:18; 6:46; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:12).

There is no lack of harmony between these texts, which state that no man has seen God’s face, and the many texts that tell us that God walked among men in the person of Jesus Christ and was seen by multitudes (see 1 John 1:1–3; 1 Tim. 3:16; etc.).

In the first group of texts the Bible writers are speaking of God in His undimmed Glory; in the second, of God as “manifest in the flesh,” and thus with His glory hidden.

Chapter 33 opens with man disheartened and depressed by virtue of being distant from God, and ends with man assured and strengthened by being drawn close to the divine presence.

Verse 23 And I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

After the break we are going to look at the sublime moment when Moses saw the glory of the Lord.

If you have accepted the perfect righteousness of Christ, confessed your sins and live an obedient life, you too will see the face of God.

Face to face with Christ my Saviour; face to face to see and know.
Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ Who died for me?
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!
Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a blessèd day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.


Updated on 21st Mar 2022

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