Text: Exodus 33:14-23, NKJV.
Consider the following conversation between God and Moses:
14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.
16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.
22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.
23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”
God promises Moses that His Presence would go with him and He would give Moses and the Israelites rest. Moses asks for a sign of God’s favour and boldly asks God to show him His glory. God replies that He would make “all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of Yahweh before you…be gracious…and show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” However, God told Moses, “You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live.” God then proceeded to hide Moses “in a cleft of the rock” and covered him with His hand until He passed by. The fearful thing was seeing God’s face! Moses saw God’s back.
Since man could not see God’s face and live, the Compassionate Sovereign Lord made it possible for man to see His face and live! Yes, looking to Jesus a man may see God’s face and live. In Jesus Christ, God has made all His goodness pass before the world and whoever would look to Jesus may have life and have it more abundantly. Paul says,
“[I]f our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. [2 Cor. 4:3-7.]
Paul also desired that the Christian’s “hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For in him [Jesus] the whole fullness of Godhead [deity] dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. [Col.2:2-4, 9-14]
Our response to God’s goodness as expressed in Jesus is to die to self so that we may be “buried with Him in baptism…raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God.” In Jesus Christ, God revealed His goodness by canceling the record of debt that stood against us because of our trespasses. He paid the debt we owed Him, “set is aside, nailing it to the cross.”
May we realize these things as set forth in God’s word and continually thank and praise our gracious and merciful God as we live unto Him!