Let’s recap where we’ve been the last few days. God brings the nation of Israel to Mt. Sinai to give them His Law and to re-establish His covenant with them. Moses is spending lots of time with God, and God is giving him all sorts of instructions.

The Israelites agree to keep God’s Law and are bound to the covenant. But a couple weeks later, they break God’s Law in a bad way. Lots of them die because of their sin, which shows just how seriously God takes sin.

We’ve also read about several encounters with God, which describe the majesty and holiness of God and also detail the great fear people felt as God came near to them. Today and tomorrow we’ll finish up looking at Moses by reading one more encounter he has with God.

Put yourself in Moses’ sandals. Imagine that you are the one talking with God and getting ready to go see Him…

Exodus 33

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ 2 I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 3 Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”

4 When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. 5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’ ” 6 So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

The Tent of Meeting

7 Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. 8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses and the Glory of the Lord

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

To Think About…

So Moses has a lengthy conversation with God. God is rightfully very upset with Israel’s sin and  tells Moses that He will not go with them to the Promised Land because He would likely destroy them due to their penchant for sin.

Moses pleads with God to go with them and to let Moses know Him more fully.

God responds by telling Moses that “My Presence will go with you.” What you can’t get from the generic word “you” is that in this verse it is in the singular form, which means that God is not saying He’ll go with the Israelites. He’s only saying He will go with Moses.

So Moses persists. He begs God, making the point that if He is not with Israel than there is nothing different between them and the rest of the world.

God tells Moses that He will go with them because He is pleased with Moses. And then Moses, seeing that he has the Lord’s favor, makes a very bold request: “show me Your glory.”

Can you tell that Moses is a special guy?

Verse 11 says that God would speak to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” Moses and God were tight! And in the next chapter we’ll see an amazing encounter between God and Moses as God shows Moses His glory.