BETWEEN THE TEXTS Week 9 • As Moses comes down from the mountain and his extended time with the Lord, receiving all the stipulations of this new covenant that the Lord had made and the people had agreed to, he is as angry as the Lord is as he sights the idol worshippers engaging in their “play” before the altar and the golden calf. Moses takes those God-carved stoned tablets and throws them at the idol and then exacts the Lord’s judgement on this sin. • Moses never denies the sin and its consequences, and yet he shows his character by seeking to intercede for these wayward people before the Lord. In Exod 32:30-35, Moses says, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin”. Moses goes even so far as to offer his own life in their place when he says that if the Lord can not forgive this great sin, then the Lord should erase Moses’ name from the book of life! Surely here we see Moses as a precursor to Jesus Christ who would not only make atonement for Israel’s sin, but all sin of all time by the losing of his own life in humanity’s place. • In Exod 33:1ff the Lord then commands the people to get moving toward the land he promised them. This is the beginning of the next stage of this long journey. • Then we get this extraordinary description of how Moses and the Lord would “meet” in this “tent of meeting” and how Moses would then meet with the people in his amazing role of prophet, priest and king in this community. (read 33:7-11). • Whenever Moses was seen heading out to the tent (some way out of the camp), people would rise and stand at the entrance to their own tent. When Moses went into the tent and the glory cloud then descended on the tent (and Moses). Those needing to seek the Lord/Moses on an issue would approach the tent. Somehow their need was communicated to Moses (and Joshua, his aid) and Moses would then speak the word of the Lord on the issue to people…. What a change from the lack of respect for the Lord and Aaron when the golden calf episode was in full swing! • The we get this beautiful line, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend”. What a description of intimacy and trust between a holy God and a flawed human being! • This theme of trust and intimacy is then filled out a little more as we get this very unique description of a conversation between “friends” and the granting of a life-long goal – Moses asks to “see/experience the glory of the Lord…..
WEEK 9 Exodus 33:12-23 (TNIV) Moses and the glory of the Lord ( numbers relate to THOUGHTS – the bullet points below)
1 2 3 12 Moses said to the LORD 4, “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.’ 5 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.” 6 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?” 7 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.” 8 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” 9 10 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.” 11
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.” 12
THOUGHTS 1. This whole chapter is really about the continued presence of the Lord with his sinful people. They have been created as a nation, called as a nation, and given a treaty or covenant where the Lord commits himself to them, and they have “fallen”. This is kind a repeat of creation and fall in Genesis 1-3. 2. After this great sin against the Lord, and the ensuing judgement on it, will the Lord still be present with his people? That’s the question being tackled here. 3. God has said that he will not go with his people directly now. He will send his angel ahead, and now here, his “Presence” with them. The reason God himself will not go with them is because the Lord may “consume” or “exterminate” them as they keep on sinning against him! (see 33:5 and 34:14) 4. Since the Lord and Moses speak to each other as close friends, Moses now has this very close conversation, almost as an equal to the Lord) about his continued presence with them. Moses seems to be looking for some co-leaders to get to the promised and then to take it by force. He seems to be thinking ahead and counting the cost of what lies ahead. He will need 2IC’s to do fulfil his calling. 5. Again, Moses speaks to the Lord as a trusted friend would. He seems to be keeping the Lord accountable to his previous promises and actions in creating this nation and promising this land and future. 6. The Lord responds with grace and reassurance. he will be present in the journey ahead. 7. Moses presses the point and seems to be looking for more assurance as he speaks the truth; If the Lord does no go with them all is lost – for three reasons – If the Lord does not stay present then Moses will have no authority to lead, the people we will have no authority to fulfil their calling to be his holy nation of priests bringing blessing the all nations and Israel will be no more – just like every other nation. 8. What a response from the Lord. He will stay present on the journey. He will stay with this wayward people because Moses is faithful and his close friend whom “the Lord knows by name”. The Lord gave this man Moses his own personal name (YAHWEH) way back when this all started and now the Lord knows Moses’ name. This is a witness to the intimacy and trust that can exist between a human being and a holy God. 9. Moses asks a his friend (the Lord) to give him an experience of trust and intimacy like never before! He asks to Lord to “show him his glory”. Moses has been in this glory cloud environment and yet in the mist he cannot see. God clouds himself to protect the human being from seeing and experiencing what would be too much to handle. The Lord’s full presence where there is no cloud or barrier is too much for sinful humanity. But Moses trusts the Lord as a friend and seeks a deeper friendship and sharing of trust. 10. Amazingly, the Lord again says, Yes”; and maybe with a joy! The Lord after all has demonstrated by all that he has done from creation to exodus that he delights in human beings and wants to be live with them at close range. 11. This sin reality of a human being still means that the relationship between the Lord and his creation cannot be full – even for Moses. 12. It would be too much even for this friend of the Lord. Moses, to see God fully. So in another act of kindness for his friend, the Lord sets up this incredible experience in a mitigated/limited way – not out of holding back but from the goal of continuing the relationship of trust and intimacy they share. The Lord has to protect Moses so he does not get overwhelmed.
REFLECTIONS 1. With the Lord’s show of continued presence and promise we are set again for a renewal of the Covenant which had been given and broken at Mt Sinai. This happens in Chapter 34….. This journey will continue and God’s faithfulness to his promises will keep this people being a people who can fulfil their calling. 2. As Moses said, if the Lord withdrew his presence from him or the people, all would be lost. Same with us. However, as Moses also said, if the Lord stays with us in grace and mercy and power, then we have authority to live out our calling and our vocations and be the holy/set apart for a special purpose people – a people to bring God’s life and blessing in Jesus Christ to everyone we know. 3. What about this intercession of Moses? What a picture this is to inspire us to pray – to pray to the Lord of the universe, who just happens to be for us a heavenly Father who loves us and knows our name! At our baptism he gave us his name (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and he received us and our name. We are friends! We need to believe this and act like this in our praying life. 4. Moses gives us a vision of prayer not as a duty or a impersonal thing but a conversation between friends where we can ask for anything and speak about anything – our own fears, needs, hopes and trust the Lord’s listening ears. Jesus of course takes it up a notch when he spends all night in prayer with his Father and gives us his own prayer to pray with him and for each other – the Lord’s Prayer. 5. This is a vision of what is possible between you and the Lord Jesus and your heavenly Father. Moses had to take risks and ask. he had to go into that tent and talk. He had to decide to do that. So do we. We can seek this kind of intimacy withy our heavenly Father who allows us flawed people to even call him “Abba” or “Papa” (see Romans 8:15).