Moses prayed, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). That is an audacious request, especially when we consider all the miraculous ways that God had already demonstrated His glorious presence and power.
Moses had seen God’s greatness. He saw the bush burning ... but never consumed (Exodus 3:2). Moses had seen the mighty Nile River become blood. (Exodus 7). He’d witnessed the other plagues too. Frog and flies. Hail and locusts (Exodus 8-10). Death for the first-born (Exodus 11-12).
Moses had camped with Israel on the banks of the Red Sea. He heard the ominous sound of the approaching Egyptian army and the comforting voice of God. “Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:16, ESV). Incredibly, unbelievably, the Sea opened up as a super-expressway for the escaping multitude. Moses saw God’s deliverance (Exodus 14).
In the deadly-dry dessert, Moses saw the artesian well gushing forth from the broken boulder (Exodus 17). He saw, every morning, God’s provision of bread, fallen from heaven (Exodus 16).
Moses had taken his place, with Aaron and Hur on top of the mountain. From his seat on the fifty-yard-line, Moses prayed and cheered as God answered his prayer for victory. God transformed the brick-making slaves into fierce warriors, and the Amorites were defeated (Genesis 17).
On Mount Sinai, Moses spent “forty days and forty nights” in God’s presence (Exodus 24:17-18). So intimate was their relationship, that the “Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11, ESV).
With all that Moses had seen, how could he possibly pray, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18, ESV)?
To unravel this intriguing question, a little more background is needed.
While Moses was in God’s presence on Sinai, the nation rebelled. Oh, it got ugly! The near-sighted dim-wits forgot all the miraculous and gracious things that God had done. Thinking that Moses was AWOL or dead, they sought a new leader and a new god. The golden calf was forged, and the nation sinned a great sin (Genesis 32).
When Moses arrived back in the camp, he sternly rebuked Aaron and the nation. God’s judgment ensued and three thousand died (Exodus 32:28). But God’s punishment was not complete. The harshest possible punishment was unleashed with God’s declaration. “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go up with you because you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3, CSB). God said, “I will send an angel ahead of you and will drive out” your enemies (Exodus 33:2, CSB), but, God said, “I’m not going with you.”
In response to this devastating news, Moses prayed (Genesis 33:12-16). Four times in Moses’s short prayer, he reminds God that Israel, His chosen people, had “found favor” with God. In essence, Moses prayed, “If you are really a gracious God... if we have really found favor in your sight... then...” don’t leave us alone! He pleaded, “If I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you” (Exodus 33:13, ESV). He closed with: “show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18).
There’s more to the story, but above all, Moses wanted to experience God’s continued presence.
This week’s blogs have focused on prayer, so I leave you with this to ponder. Do we dare pray, “Lord, reveal Your holy presence? Show us Your glory!” It could turn our world upside-down... Let’s try it! Oh God, please reveal to us Your glorious power and presence!
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor