Discover His heart: He reveals Himself to us through His goodness
I have a friend who works for the FBI. I’ve come to understand that most individuals who work for this part of our government are not involved in high-level espionage and intrigue like we see in the movies. However, when I ask him a government-sensitive question, the standing joke is, “I can tell you, but then I’ll have to kill you.” Some things are just better off left alone. This exchange is not so unlike a conversation that Moses shared with God in our reading today. Fortunately, Moses made it out alive.
@ Exodus 33
“Go up to [Canaan] this land that flows with milk and honey. But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way.”(3) Of all the names that God could have called the Israelites at this point, stubborn and rebellious or stiff-necked seem rather tame after discovering their idolatrous dancing frenzy of worship to a golden calf. Many other names come to mind for me, but then I remember how God viewed rebellion in I Samuel 15:23, “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.” Very apropos, indeed!
Because of their sin, God would not travel to Canaan with them. “When the people heard these stern words, they went into mourning and stopped wearing their jewelry and fine clothes…As [Moses] went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and hover…When the people saw the cloud…they would stand and bow down in front of their own tents.” (4,8,10) Their repentance, humility and reverence captured God’s attention, and the appeal for mercy by Moses on their behalf captured His heart. He forgave them and promised to go with them to Canaan. He loved them! He just couldn’t help Himself.
“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (11) Instead of the visions and dreams through which God had spoken to others in the past, God’s conversations with His friend Moses were more personal, more directed. But Moses revealed that he wanted even more when he asked God to show him His glorious presence (18). According to the original Hebrew, he wanted to see God’s significance or weight – His Glory, His Power, His Character – the whole deal! Apparently, Moses had momentarily lost his mind! What was he thinking? He was thinking he wanted more!
God was so very kind to Moses in His response, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh…But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” (19-20) But this warning was different than the bantering with my FBI friend. Moses was not going to see the face of God because he just couldn’t handle it. He would see the after, the weight, the more of God’s glory through His mighty acts to come. Amazingly, Moses did see God many centuries later on the Mount of Transfiguration through his visit with the visible Christ, the glory of God. More of God’s goodness!
@ Exodus 34
“The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out ‘Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.’ Moses immediately threw himself on the ground and worshiped.” (6-8) Like Moses, we can’t help but fall on our knees in worship when His Presence overwhelms our space. He reveals His very nature to us through His compassion > His mercy > His unfailing love > His faithfulness > His forgiveness > His justice. In these moments, these glorious moments, we see the more of Him!
Moving Forward: Show me your glorious Presence, Lord. I don’t deserve it, and I’m not certain I can bear it, but I join with Moses – Show me more!
Tomorrow @ I Kings 1-4