Exodus 33:18- Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”
By: Tony Villatoro, Pastor, Sojourn Spring Branch
April 30, 2018
One of the Bible stories that has always gripped me is the one with Moses in Exodus 33. Here he is on the way from freeing God’s people in Egypt to the promised land, has exited at Mount Sinai, and is conversing with God. Here is Moses pleading with the Lord, saying, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.” (Exodus 33:12a) Moses is on the move having brought God’s people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and now is in the wilderness. The promised land yet to be possessed, they find themselves “on the way.” But because of their rebellion, God has not let Moses know who He will send with him.
“What rebellion?” you may ask. See, what we must realize is that this chapter is the one where Moses pleads with God to see His glory. It comes after the chapter where God’s people asked Aaron to make gods who would go before them. The Bible records that “Moses delayed to come down from the mountain.” (Exodus 32:1) Moses was with God and the people below were on the move towards the promised land and foolishly thought they could keep moving without Moses. As often is the case, people that are “on the way” get impatient at times, especially if they are not aware of God’s presence in their lives.
After that episode of rebellion, “the Lord said to Moses, ‘Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore...” (Exodus 33:1) Coming out of Egyptian slavery, God tells them to possess the promised land. In the next few verses, God tells Moses that he would send an angel to fight their enemies “but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3) What a tragedy it must be to be a people “on the way” to the promised land without the presence of God in their midst.
As the story continues, there is this beautiful picture between verses 7-11 that would be a shame to overlook. The pillar of cloud would descend upon the entrance of a tent that Moses had erected. Imagine a panoramic view of God’s people on one side worshipping at the entrance of their tents and Moses on the other side outside of the camp, far from the others. The intercessor "outside the camp” pleading for the rebellious.
After much pleading with the Lord, Moses would say, "If I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” (Exodus 33:13) The faithful pleas and selflessness that God’s man had for a rebellious people are shown by Moses here. I don’t know how long it took. I don’t know how long the people rose when Moses rose. I don’t know how long the people worshipped in their own tents when Moses went into the tent to talk with God. But this I know: After however long those meetings between God and Moses happened, God said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you
rest.” (Exodus 33:14) Oh, to hear those words after persistent conversations with the Lord! And when He answers all there is to exclaim is, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15) It is in this context that Moses can say, “Please show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18)
As people on the way to the promised land we have sometimes been at our Mount Sinai. Some of us have made our own version of a golden calf of our life, family, career, or ministry. But be encouraged today. We have a Moses making intercession. As people on the way, may we spend time worshipping, recognizing that our Savior Jesus Christ has made a way for us to have His presence go with us.
“God, wherever we find ourselves in the journey; we are a people who are on the way. We are on our way to daily faithfulness to you. We are on our way to leading our homes for your glory. We are on our way as we serve your church. We are on our way to the Day where everything will be renewed. Lord, forgive us for erecting idols in our heart. Forgive us for getting impatient and not seeking You. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who made a way for us in our wilderness. Revive us while we are on the way. Amen.”