Imagine having spent 40 days in the Presence of God. During this 40 day period, you would be able to hear Him speak, and not just listen, but also speak back to Him face to face. Much like you would speak to a friend.
That’s exactly what Moses did on Mt. Sinai. Fast forward a few chapters, some major sin on the part of the Israelites while he was away with God, and we now find Moses back on top of the mountain desperate once again for God’s Presence.
Sprinkled all throughout the book of Exodus is an ongoing dialogue between God and Moses. It wasn’t unusual for them to speak together. It also wasn’t unusual for Moses to experience the Presence of God.
However, in Exodus 33 we see the Israelites turning to sin before Moses can even get himself down from the mountain.
At this point God has had it with these people. He pulls Moses aside and tells him (my paraphrase), “Listen, I’ll give you the land I promised to you, but I’m not going along for this ride”.
Here’s where we pick up our text because Moses has just had a complete panic attack with God. He digs his heels in and essentially says “keep your land Lord, because if You’re not going, I’m not going”. If you listen closely, you can hear the desperation in his voice through the passage. “Lord God, thanks for this land and all, but I’m not going. Sure that land is flowing with abundance, but it’s all worthless if you don’t go”.
Moses knew what the Presence of God felt like and he experienced its life changing effects. He was willing to forsake a comfortable lifestyle in the land of milk and honey if it meant that he’d have to leave the Presence of God behind and for Moses that was no deal at all.
We can see the heart of God soften and you can almost hear the smile in His voice as He assures Moses that He will go with him to the promise land. Have you ever noticed the way God comes through when our neediness and desperation is pointed in His direction? He never fails.
This is one of my very favorite passages of the Bible, because in it we see this going back and forth between a loving God, and a man who is so desperate for more of His Presence that he doesn’t hear God the first time God says “Ok, I’ll go”.
Once Moses takes a breath, and hears that the Lord will go with him, you can see the deep sigh of relief. I can almost imagine Moses being completely emotionally spent, and yet despite being drained, he had one last request for God: “Please show me Your Glory”. Maybe He made this request because He needed reassurance, much like the way after an argument I need my husbands arms around me. Whatever the motive, this was his the whisper on his lips and the one thing He was desperate for.
It’s interesting to note that this is a person who speaks with God on a regular basis. This is also someone who spent 40 days on top of a mountain covered in a thick cloud of glory. And yet the one thing Moses asks for is more. He wanted more of His Presence in a way he had never experienced before.
Notice what Moses asks for. He doesn’t say “God, show me your Presence”. That would be silly. Moses clearly knew God was right there speaking with Him. No, Moses asks for something altogether different. And God knows what is being asked. Moses is wanting to look at the Lord face to face, eye to eye, and know Him deeper than he’s ever known Him. He wants to behold God in all of His Glory.
These verses are so sweet because it speaks to a God who delights in His children’s desperate desire for Him. Here’s His response:
“I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’… but He said to him “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live”.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you are keenly aware of my desperate love for the mountains. Each time I drive through the middle of the Canadian Rockies I stare up in awe at those cliffs and think to myself about how many caves might be up there, and how can I reach them. I gaze up at the rocks and imagine the route I would take to get there. I absolutely love this passage of Scripture because God takes Moses, leads him to a cleft in the rock, hides him there, covers him with His hand, and passes by while speaking His own Name.
Can you imagine? If you knew that if you would look and see the Face of God, but that you wouldn’t live, would you be tempted to ask for that? Would the cost of seeing that much of God’s Glory be worth it to you? I mean, what a way to go! God in his desire to delight and satisfy these soul longings, covers Moses with His Hand, passes by, speaks His own name, and then lifts His hand so Moses can see the back of Him. It says that Moses then “quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped”.
“Show me Your glory please”. It was one request by Moses and now thousands of years later I sit here on a daily basis, saying “show me your glory…. show me your glory”. Yes we want to experience God’s Presence in our quiet time each day, but more than that, when was the last time you prayed for Him to show you His glory?
Recently Keith and I went out scouting for our upcoming workshop. It was a beautiful sunny day filled with big puffy clouds, black water swamps, marsh land, and sea water. While he walked a different direction to check things out, I stood close to the water that overlooked the marsh. With arms stretched out, and face pointed up, I whispered “show me Your glory, show me Your glory”.
Perhaps this is our obsession with landscape photography. I’ve mentioned this before, and this won’t be the last time, but not only do I want to chase after light, I want to chase after the earth pouring out the glory of it’s maker, and the beauty of the heavens. The earth cries out in worship with every song of the birds, the wind through the trees, the water breaking under the jumping fish.
If we learn one thing from Moses and this verse it’s this: Experiencing His Presence, and His Glory will never be enough. His provision is no substitute for His Presence. 40 days on a mountain alone with God, speaking like friends with Him will never be enough. Eternity in His Presence will never be enough. For the here and now, I’m hungry for more of His Presence. I’m desperate to hear the sound of His voice. I’m craving to experience the Glory of the Lord.
“Show me your glory…..show me your glory”.