From the introduction presented by Unfolding Grace:
“God liberates Israel in three movements. He delivers them from slavery, brings them into a covenant relationship, and gives instructions to build a tabernacle (a portable tent) in order for His presence to dwell with them. This shows us that God delivers His people in order to dwell with them. Redemption is for relationship.
But Israel’s persistent rebellion creates a problem. How can this holy God dwell with such a rebellious people? God’s nature provides the answer: He reveals to Moses His ‘glory’ — His radiance, His beauty, His weighty personal presence — by announcing that He is a ‘God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.’”
Wednesday, March 17th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Exodus 32-34
Focused Passage for Reflection - Exodus 33:17-34:9
Reflecting on the Text:
Do you ever find yourself needing a little “pick-me-up” when you are tired? Where do you find the help to keep you going? Do you reach for the Gatorade? How about a quick power nap? Or maybe do you need a fresh reminder of your final goal?
Now, what about those times when you find yourself spiritually weary? We all feel it from time to time. There are different causes, but we all need a little boost at some point. Even Moses. In Exodus 33:18 you can almost hear it in his voice. He has been trying to lead the Israelites, but they keep turning away from the Lord. Little did he know at the time, but the pattern would continue for the rest of his life. So, faced with a long-term mission and the constant rebellion from his people, Moses asked the Lord for a little pick-me-up. No, he wasn't asking for Gatorade. His request? “(Lord), please show me your glory.”
Think about it. It was the perfect request. He wanted a reminder of the final goal, and he wanted to see the One who would get him there. It was the perfect request even though there was no way he could “see” the Lord’s glory and survive. That would be a sight to wondrous to behold!
So the text tells us the Lord showed Moses His glory by speaking it. Exodus 34:6-7 are foundational verses wherein the Lord powerfully describes His own glory by speaking of His character. And they are indeed glorious!
Merciful and gracious…slow to anger…abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. And this is how the Lord describes His glory! He doesn’t jump to His power in Creation, which is immeasurable. He doesn’t speak of His wisdom, which is matchless. He doesn’t speak of beauty, or creativity, or truth. He speaks of grace! But there is a “but.”
In addition to all He has said about His glory, He tells us His glory is rounded out in this way: “…but who will by no means clear the guilty…” Regardless of how Moses received these words, we hear them and fall defeated. How could it be both? Grace and vengeance? If we’re honest, we know about our sin, so where is the hope? God is powerful in His vengeance, and on some level, we see the glory in that, but we’re left wondering if this is good news. At the very least we’re confused.
So how do we reconcile these two seemingly opposing descriptions of the glory of the Lord? Well, praise the Lord we don’t have to reconcile them. They are reconciled perfectly in Jesus Christ. The Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness are manifested toward His children in that Jesus bore their guilt on the cross. He took the vengeance that was due us as an act of grace. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. We heard of the Lord’s glory in Exodus 34:6-7. We see it in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Moses struggled with a wearisome mission and needed a sustaining vision. We too deal with spiritual exhaustion. So praise the Lord we also have a sustaining glimpse of the Lord’s glory. But as we stand on this side of the cross, we see the tension of Exodus 34:6-7 answered in the person of Jesus. Let Him be our sustaining vision.
Questions for personal reflection:
Where do you turn when you grow weary in the Christian life?
Where do you see and experience the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ?
What tends to blur your vision of His glory?