Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies
The Knowledge of the Holy: Moses' encounter with the glory of God
by I Gordon
As we move through this study on the Knowledge of the
Holy, it is useful to look at some actual encounters that people had with God. By that
people that have had an actual one-on-one experience with the living God. One of
those was our friend Moses. Now I won't say that this was a face to face meeting
because God said to Moses that if he saw God's face... well, that would lead to the small
issue of Moses dying. But it was a very close encounter nonetheless! This
type of experience teaches us more about our God. We'll pick up the story half
way through a conversation between Moses and the Lord. Let's have a look at what
we can learn.
Show me the glory
Exodus 33:12-23 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 favour with me.'
(13) If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and
continue to find favour 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."
In the middle of a conversation about Moses leading
the Israelites through the wilderness, Moses has a thought... Encouraged by
the fact that the Lord has just said that He is pleased with him, Moses
decides to take a chance. He wants to see God's glory! Now God knew exactly
what Moses was asking but do you? What exactly is the glory of God? The
Hebrew word for glory is 'kabod' and means 'honour, glory, majesty, wealth.'
Previously Moses had met God at the burning bush which, while an interesting
sight, didn't disclose the complete glory of God. But there was something
within Moses that desired to see God with His full glory revealed... or at least to
the extent that he was allowed! This raises some questions for our own
Would you say that you are someone that desires
to know more about God's glory and character?
Do you pray that God would reveal more of
Himself to you?
Do you think, if you ask with the right motives,
that God will grant that request?
how did God respond to Moses' request? God seemed pleased by the request and
said that He would pass by and show His goodness to Moses.
But this was going to be far more than a lighting and effects display. No...
God was more interested in revealing the glory of His character.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses this when he writes that God, in essence,
said to Moses:
"I will let you see something. But, much more
important than that, I will cause all my goodness to pass before you. I will
give you a deeper insight and understanding into myself, into my character,
into what I am. That is what you really need to know."
So we see that
the 'glory' of God is related to the goodness of His character. God is good! Not partially
good and partially not good. All of His attributes are perfect and good. We
see also that the LORD would also proclaim His name, 'YHWH' to Moses. That
is, Moses could learn about God's glory through God's name as well. God's
would reveal to Moses His self sufficient, eternal unchanging nature through
the meaning of His name. But
note that Moses couldn't see God's face for He said that 'no man shall see me
and live!' William MacDonald in the Believers Bible Commentary (Big Blue)
'No one can see God's face and live (v. 20). This
means that no one can look upon the unveiled glory of God; He dwells "in
unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see" (1Ti 6:16). In that
sense, no one has seen God at any time (1Jo 4:12). How then do we explain
passages in the Bible where people saw God and did not die? For example,
Hagar (Gen 16:13); Jacob (Gen 32:30); Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and
seventy of the elders of Israel (Exo 24:9-11); Gideon (Jdg 6:22-23); Manoah
and his wife (Jdg 13:22); Isaiah (Isa 6:1); Ezekiel (Eze 1:26, cf.
Eze_10:20); John (Rev 1:17).
The answer is that these people saw God as
represented by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes He appeared as the Angel of
the LORD, sometimes as a Man, and once manifested Himself as a Voice (Exo
24:9-11; cf. Deu 4:12). The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father, has fully declared God (Joh 1:18). Christ is the brightness of God's
glory and the express image of His Person (Heb 1:3). That is why He could
say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Joh 14:9).'
The glory of the Son (and sun)
have an example of God's glory in the splendor of the sun. Our sun (earth's
closest star) gives light to our world. It literally is the light to this
world. No sun, no light. Just as it is no Son, no light. Looking straight
at the sun without protection can damage the retina and even cause
blindness. It is simply to powerful, too radiant. In like manner no one can
look right at the glory of God and live. But God provides a place that is
safe... The LORD says to Moses that He will put him in the cleft of the rock
and from there Moses will be allowed to view the LORD as He passes by.
Believer, you have been placed in the cleft of the rock too... The Rock is
Jesus! He is the rock that we both stand in and on, allowing us to see the
glory of God. It is the ONLY place that mankind CAN see the glory of God. And when Jesus returns
believers shall be allowed to see Him face to face
for we will have been changed in an instant into His likeness! A.Z Tozer
writes well about out position in the cleft of the rock:
As the great old hymn states:
The impact upon Moses
Exodus 34:5-8 Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood
with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. (6) And the Lord passed
before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,
longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, (7) keeping mercy for
thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing
the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the
children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (8) So Moses made
haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.
Exo 34:28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and
forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the
tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
"The children of
Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses
put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him"
What do we learn about God from what was revealed to
Moses? His name is YHWH - which is often pronounced 'Yahweh' or 'Jehovah'.
This has the central thought of being the self existent eternal God. He is
merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth. But
also righteous and just. And we see that this encounter had a great impact
upon Moses. There are several points that we can take away for out own
lives. When looking at the impact of Moses' encounter with God we can see
that it produced the following:
Humility - Moses humbled himself - He took his
rightful place when in the presence of Almighty God.
Worship - Moses' worshipped. This is the first mention of Moses worshipping. Anytime you see something
of the majesty and character of God you must worship. Worship is our
response to the glory of God.
Supernatural - Moses had no food or drink for 40 days and
40 nights! (Ex 24:28) Now you can't go 40 days without water naturally. But
essentials of this life are no longer seen as essential! By extension it is
God's presence within our lives that lifts us above the normal fleshly
reactions and desires. 'Turn
your eyes upon Jesus, look full on his glorious face and the things of earth
will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.'
Teaches others - We read above
that Moses wrote
what he has seen and heard. In other words he wants to help others and give them the word of
Moses was changed! - Moses shone with the glory of God. He was changed.
People could see that there was something different about Moses and that
that difference had to be God!
So is 'show me
your glory' a prayer for today? Yes it is. We may not see the outward manifestation of
the shekinah glory but the prayer to see the glory of God is still valid in
regards to God's goodness, grace, character and nature. The Bible says that
as we behold Jesus' glory, we are changed into that very glory! Let me leave
you with some key scriptures from the New Testament concerning the glory of
Jesus today. They are all worthy of our thought and meditation.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his
dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the
One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
2 Corinthians 3:7-9 Now if the ministry that
brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so
that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of
its glory, fading though it was, (8) will not the ministry of the
Spirit be even more glorious? (9) If the ministry that condemns men
is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings
2 Corinthians 3:18 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.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6 For we do not preach ourselves
but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus'
sake. (6) For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One
who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of
the glory of God in the face of Christ.