If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Exodus 33, John 12, Proverbs 9, Ephesians 2. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Exodus 33.
Moses had a relationship with God that was completely unique. He was responsible for leading all of God’s people in a mobile environment while simultaneously organizing their worship and legal system. God, of course, did all the intellectual lifting by telling Moses what the laws and regulations would be, but Moses had to carry them out. For his trouble, Moses got to commune with God like no other human leader ever before or since. Exodus 33 gives us a glimpse into that communion. Verse 11 tells us that Moses & the Lord would speak “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” That sounds both exhilarating and terrifying at once. Since God is pure spirit, the “face” Moses saw must have been a bodily form that God assumed for an occasion like this (cf. v. 20, 23), just as when Abraham saw God veiled in a human body (cf. Gen 18). This was probably God the Son—the person of Christ in a pre-birth appearance. Theologians call this a “Christophany.”
Whatever Moses saw of God in the tent of meeting left him with a sense that he was only seeing a bit of God’s glory. It also left him with a hunger for more. Although he struggled with the responsibilities of leadership (v. 12), Moses pleaded with God saying, “teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (v. 13). As a believer that phrase should resonate with you. While we fall so far short of God’s glory in reality, God’s grace to us in salvation gives us a deep desire to know God and have his favor in our lives. After receiving reassurance that God’s presence would be with Moses and the nation (vv. 14-17), Moses asked God for the thing he really wanted—to see the unfiltered reality of who God is (v. 18). This is something that no created being can see (v. 20), but God was pleased with the desire behind the request. Instead of giving Moses what he asked for, God gave him a sample of what he wanted. Moses would see one of God’s attributes, his goodness (v. 19) and hear the Lord declare his own name and his own greatness. Whatever it was that Moses saw in verses 21-22 he could only vaguely describe, probably because it was beyond his ability to put into words. But the concrete experience of God was the declaration of truth: God is merciful according to his sovereign choice and decree (v. 19). That was, and is, a profound insight into God's nature. It is truth we can chew on for the rest of our lives without ever really comprehending it. What a gift Moses received as the Lord's servant.
As incredible as Moses’ experiences with God were, we have more knowledge of God than he did because we have God’s completed word and God’s son. In the remainder of the Old Testament, we see the character and mercy of God revealed in his patient dealings with Israel. In the person of Christ and the scriptural record about him, we have revealed to us the personality of God in specific stories from the life and mouth of Christ. John put it this way in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Though both Moses desired to see the glory of God (Ex 33:18), he only got a passing glimpse and brief declaration. In Christ we have a lifetime of activity and volumes of teaching, all of which revealed God so well that John could say "We have seen his glory" (Jn 1:14). I hope these devotionals give you a little more insight into the incredible nature of our God. I hope these daily readings from his word draw you again and again each day because you long to know more about our infinite Father, Son and Spirit. I hope we come together each Sunday looking to learn obedience to Christ, but just as important as that—to see him in the pages of scripture and bow in worship before him. I hope this passage deepens our longing for those things and causes us to look forward to eternity with him.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.