Today’s readings.. (Exodus 33,34), (Psalms 90,91), (1 Corinthians 3)
The life story of Moses is remarkable, only after being a shepherd for 40 years in Midian was he called by God to serve him. He then had the drama of the plagues and his inter-action with Pharaoh. The dramatic crossing of the Red Sea and the quaking mountain and 40 days on the summit are naturally seen as the highlights of his life story. But something totally special was in store for him and we read of this today in Exodus 33 and 34.
The Lord commands them to leave Sinai, God sees the masses encamped there as “a stiff necked people” [33 v.3]. Yesterday we read “the LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned I will blot out of my book.’” [32 v.33] When Moses went into his tent “the pillar of cloud would descend … Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” [33 v.9,11] Moses says to the LORD, “If I have found favour in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favour in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”[v.13] The LORD answers, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” [v.13,14] The A V has ‘give thee rest’ – the promised “rest” only applied to Moses.
There follows a remarkable request. “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ The answer is most thought provoking, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” [v.18,19] Moses is made to stand in the “cleft of a rock” until the LORD has passed by, but Moses is not allowed to see his face.
But the greater cause for our meditation is the declaration of his name. In one sense God’s name, as with our name, is the reputation we develop and display.
Moses goes up on the mountain for a second 40 days (34 v.28) and again “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger; and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness … ” [v.5,6,] The glory of character is far greater in meaning than physical glory.. Remember Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus that he would have “no beauty that we should desire him.” [53 v.2] – yet all human portraits make him handsome with flowing golden hair!
Let us each meditate as to how we would respond – if asked to show our glory! How we feel we can genuinely answer this request – will one day be reflected in the kind of “rest” we will receive.