3.18 Show Me Your Glory
There is a remarkable prayer by Moses in Ex 33:13:
"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."
And God's response was:
"My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex 33:14).
This prayer of Moses is an upward spiral toward God. He knew that he had obtained favor from God. He asked that as a reward, God would teach him more about Himself, so that he might grow in his knowledge of God. This is a circular prayer, because it results in ever-increasing spiritual growth. More knowledge leads to more favor leads to more knowlege. And the prayer evoked from God an entirely different response from that which we have just encountered in His abhorrence of Israel -- the abiding Presence of God on the journey, and an end to striving, failure and judgment.
The consequence of Moses' prayer was that the Lord manifested His glory to Moses (Ex 33:17-34:8). This was the pinnacle of the Old Testament revelation of God. Compare Isa 6 and Ezekiel 1. It foreshadowed the Transfiguration of Jesus in the New Testament (Mat 17:1-9). Unlike the descent of God upon Sinai before all Israel, the special character of this revelation is that it was personal. Moses had passed beyond the barriers -- the mountain, the clouds, the smoke, the thunder -- and approached the heart of the Deity who first spoke to him from a burning bush. There is a progression here, from obedience, to intercession, to friendship (Ex 33:11), to pleasing God (Ex 33:17), to theophany.
The Western reader may be reminded of the scene in the movie "The Wizard of Oz," when Dorothy and her companions stood trembling before "The Great and Terrible Oz." The image before them frightened them with its size, noise and threats, but when the curtain was removed, there stood a little man with levers and a speaking trumpet. In God's unveiling of Himself to Moses, what was revealed behind the thunder and smoke is not a weaker, but a greater, being:
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" (Ex 33:19).
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation" (Ex 34:6-7).
In proclaiming His Name, God proclaimed His character. And what He showed first is "His goodness." The fire and brimstone were gone, and the first of His attributes were mercy and compassion. Then came "slow to anger," abounding in love, and forgiveness of sin. Lastly, His righteousness and holiness. This was how God revealed Himself to His "friend." But those who remained standing afar off saw only the clouds and heard only the thunder, and imagined how terrible the Reality must be.