Last night at Revival, the preacher talked about Exodus 33, where Moses was asking for God’s presence to be with the Israelites. After much discussion with God, Moses says “Please, show me Your glory.” Although God says that no one can see His face and live, Moses is begging to SEE HIM. So God agrees that Moses can see Him from behind. He hides Moses in the cleft of the rock, covers him with His hand, and then uncovers Him so that Moses can see His back.
At this time, Moses has been meeting with God for a while. A lot has happened since the burning bush–which I came across in my daily reading this morning. In Exodus 3, when Moses sees the bush, he was intrigued and wanted to see what “it” was. God calls to Him and stops him, telling him that he must first take off his sandals. He then introduces Himself to Moses, saying “I am the God your your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
When Moses hears that this is GOD speaking to Him, the Scripture says “Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.”
Moses was AFRAID.
Afraid to SEE GOD.
Often in Scripture we see the reaction of people being afraid of God, and even of angels. Since the Fall, man’s natural response to seeing that level of holiness is almost always fear. Immediately after the fall, we see Adam and Eve–who had previously walked with God often– now hiding themselves from Him. Mary was afraid when the angel came to tell her that she would give birth to the Son of God. When Saul met the Lord on the road to Damascus, he was trembling. Granted, Jesus hadn’t just shown up as a guy walking next to Him. When Jesus appeared, Saul became blinded by a great light.
At first response, man sees God’s holiness and wants to hide. In comparison to God’s holiness, we feel guilt. Shame. We want to hide. Even in my own life, when there is sin in my heart–my first response is to close my Bible. If I’m not willing to give up my sin, I generally don’t want to face God. And when I do face Him, I come to His Word with a sense of trepidation. I’m nervous, because I’m expecting His conviction to set in and I know it’s going to change things. I know it’s going to change me.
So what about Moses? He started the same as many of these other men and women. He was afraid to see God. And just thirty chapters later, He is begging to see Him. What changed?
A lot happened in those thirty chapters. Moses had gone to Pharoah asking for his people’s freedom. God had performed signs and miracles through Moses. He had sent 10 plagues on the Egyptians, and had saved Israel from the worst of them–via the Passover Lamb. God had parted the Red Sea to save them. God had provided water from a rock, and manna from the sky. Had guided their every step of the way with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Perhaps it was this myriad of signs that drew Moses to the Lord, but I don’t think so.
I imagine those signs would only further prove the Greatness of God in a way that would leave most of us lying face down on the floor, ready to obey His every command, but still afraid to lift our faces and behold His glory. I imagine there was something else going on through all of this–something that seemed even MORE miraculous to Moses. Through all of these signs and wonders, through Moses experiencing the greatness of God, Moses was also given the grand opportunity to meet with God often.
In Exodus 33:8 we see that whenever Moses would go out to the tabernacle to meet with God, “all the people rose and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle.” And as Moses would enter the tabernacle, the people would watch as the pillar of cloud came down to the tabernacle. There, the Lord would talk with Moses. And all the people would worship God. Can you imagine? All the people would see Moses heading to the tabernacle. They would ALL quit what they were doing, and watch Moses–knowing that GOD HIMSELF was about to come down. And though they couldn’t see God through the pillar of cloud, they were able to worship His greatness. It’s unfathomable to even imagine myself one of those Israelites, nevertheless as Moses! Can you imagine what was going on in Moses’ heart and mind during those times? During that walk to the tabernacle? What was he thinking as he journeyed to the tabernacle? Was he expecting God to come down and meet Him? Or did he wonder, “Will God show up this time?” Obviously we can’t know what he was thinking, but beyond a shadow of a doubt, I can know one thing: He was able to meet with God, and through that He developed a desire to see Him.
What used to be fear became longing. The more Moses got to know of the Lord, the more He wanted to SEE HIM. What had changed? For Moses, it was more than just the miracles that every other Israelite was a witness to. For Moses, it was one big change: Relationship.
Moses had a relationship with the Lord. He had spent personal time with Him on a consistent basis. He had experienced God meeting with Him each time He went to the tabernacle. God was faithful to Moses. He knew Moses by name.
How did Moses respond? With one statement.
“Please, show me Your glory.”
Moses’s response to God’s presence? He wanted to SEE GOD. I’m the same way. In my flesh, I first come to God with nervousness. Sometimes even fear. My sinfulness placed beside His holiness is overwhelming. I feel unworthy to face such a holy God. But just as God came each time Moses approached the tabernacle, the Holy Spirit is always there when I open His Word. He lives inside of me, but my sin creates a barrier between me and Him. When I open His Word, He’s faithful to come to me and help me tear down those walls. And brick by brick, as He removes the walls of guilt and shame, He creates the same desire in me that He created in Moses. A desire to SEE HIM.
The more I experience God, the more I WANT to experience God. The more I know Him, the more I want to know of Him. His presence in my life, though met with fear, creates a relationship that dispels the fear and replaces it with longing.
I long to see Him,
and to know Him more.
Do you? Or have you allowed your fear to keep you from His presence?
Here’s a song to enjoy: