Sermon #108 Exodus Series
Title: The Glory Revealed
Text: Exodus 33:18-34:9
Subject: The Glory of God
Date: Tuesday Evening — August 30, 2009
Tape: Exodus #108
Readings: Rex Bartley and Ron Wood
Let’s pick up right where we left off this morning. This morning we heard Moses pray, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” My subject tonight is The Glory revealed. Let’s read Exodus 33:18-34:9.
(Exodus 33:18-23) “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. (19) And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (20) And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. (21) And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: (22) And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: (23) And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”
(Exodus 34:1-9) “And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. (2) And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. (3) And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. (4) And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. (5) And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. (6) And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, (7) Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (8) And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. (9) And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.”
Hold your Bibles open on your laps, and I will by the help of God the Holy Spirit to raise and answer four questions.
2. What did God conceal from Moses?
3. How did God reveal his glory to Moses?
4. What is the glory of God revealed in Christ?
I. The first thing that I want us to consider is this: — What did God reveal to Moses?
Moses prayed, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” And God said, “I will make all my goodness to pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”
There are two or three lessons which should be drawn from Moses’ prayer — “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.”
When I look at such a text as this, I am more inclined to meditate than to preach. I fear to speak upon such a noble theme, lest I should dishonor the one whom I most desire to honor. What sinful tongue is competent to speak upon the glory of the infinite God? Like Isaiah, I am constrained to cry, — “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips.” Nevertheless, there are some blessed thoughts that I have gleaned from this text, which I want to convey to you.
Moses knew that “God is a Spirit.” He knew that the mind of man can never conceive an adequate idea of the incomprehensible Jehovah. Moses had a great view of God. He knew that God was infinite, eternal and incomprehensible. Yet, it seems that Moses entertained the idea that the invisible God might be and would be seen.
Brethren, these eyes of flesh are designed to show me only those things that are physical and material. They cannot reveal that which is spiritual to me. As long as I am upon this earth, I cannot see God with these eyes of clay.
Yet, there is nothing that God’s children desire more than the sight of God our Savior in all his glory. This was that hope which gave David confidence toward God. — “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy: at thy right hand there are pleasures forever more…As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness” (Psalms 16:11; 17:15).
This desire to behold God’s glory is one sure result of sweet fellowship and communion with our God. — Moses had spent forty days in the presence of God. We read, — “The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (v. 11). And what was the result? Moses said, “Show me thy glory.” Such is always the result of close communion with God.
Š The more we know of him, the more we desire to know.
Š The closer God draws to us, the more we are constrained to cry, — “Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us” (Psalm 4:6).
The great purpose of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ to redeem his people was that we might behold the glory of God in him. Our Lord prayed, — “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, by with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). And you can be sure of this, if we are redeemed by the blood of Christ, we shall behold the glory of God! Job said, — “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed in me” (Job 19:25-27). Turn to the back of the Book, and read what is written of that Eternal City. “And I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:22-23).
Now, let’s turn from Moses prayer and consider God’s response. Observe the gracious revelation that God made to his friend. Moses asked to see God’s glory. As we saw this morning, as the Lord passed by, proclaiming his name, he covered Moses with his hand (a cloud). When he removed his hand, Moses saw God’s “back parts,” the crucified Christ. In the vision of Christ crucified, he understood the name (the attributes) he heard hiding in the cleft of the Rock.
What attribute shall the man of God first see? Will he show him his holiness? Will he show him his wrath? Will he show him his justice? Will he show him his power? Will he bring his sins to remembrance, and show him his omniscience? No. I hear a still small voice saying, “I will make all my goodness to pass before thee.”
Oh, sons of men, the essence of God is his glory, and the glory of God is his goodness! When we you read chapter thirty-four, you saw that God revealed his mercy, grace, longsuffering, truth, faithfulness and justice. But the essence of them all is his goodness. The brightest gem in the crown of God is his goodness. God’s greatest glory is that he is good.
My soul longs to make known to the sons of men that God, the infinite, holy, triune Jehovah is the sum and substance of all good. — “There is none good but one, that is God” (Matthew 19:17).
God alone can make men happy. He is the Father of all mercy. He is the Fountain of all goodness. He is the Source of all joy. — “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15). The splendor of God’s goodness is such that no mortal can begin to tell it all. If I had the tongue of the seraphim and the space of eternity, I could not even start to give you an idea of his goodness. But, I would like to make a few statements to impress your hearts with his goodness.
Š There is nothing but goodness in God, and nothing but goodness comes from him.
There is nothing of evil, iniquity, or unrighteousness in God’s Person, his ways or his works. — “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Whatever God does is good, simply because he does it. He may allow wickedness for a season, but he overrules it for good. He will eternally punish the wicked, but that punishment will prove at last to be good.
Š God is immutably and eternally good. The goodness of men is like the morning dew. It soon fades away. But the goodness of God is invariably the same. It continues forever.
Š The entire universe shares in the goodness of God.
The whole creation proclaims to us that God is good. — “The Word of the Lord is right: and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 33:4-5). This world was created by the goodness of God. From his goodness he clothes the fields with green grass; he feeds the cattle on a thousand hills. The sparrows come and peck their seed from the hands of the Almighty.
Even the wicked upon this earth enjoy the goodness of God. — “The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9). Out of his abundant goodness, God sends both sun and rain upon the just and the unjust.
Our great God rules this world in the goodness of his providence, simply because he is good. We are of yesterday and know nothing. Man is but a flower of the field, withering away. Yesterday he was an infant; today he is an old man; tomorrow he is gone. But God is the eternal good that rules them all.
Š But, if you would truly behold the goodness of God, you must look to the sovereign goodness of the Triune Godhead to his covenant people. O my soul, to back to old eternity and see your name in God’s book of predestinating, unchanging grace!
Behold the goodness of God the blessed Father. He chose you for himself. He loved you. He laid up all good things for you in Christ. He gave his only begotten Son for you. — Behold the goodness of God the eternal Son, your Redeemer. He became your Surety and Representative. He undertook all things for your good. He stooped to assume your nature. He lived before God as your Representative to work out a righteousness for you. He died as your Substitute to purchase your soul from divine justice. He is the Fountain of all goodness to your soul. He ever lives to speak a good word in the presence of God for you. — Behold the goodness of God the Holy Spirit. All the gifts of divine grace are tokens of his goodness to you. He gives to us faith and repentance, the hope of eternal life, and the gift of eternal life itself. He preserves and keeps you. He revives and refreshes you. You comforts you and instructs you.
Here is the great glory of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is — “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin” (34.7).
I can say no more concerning God’s goodness, though I have said nothing in comparison to what could and should be said. But this is not all that Moses saw. The Lord God said, — “I will make all my goodness to pass before thee.” But there is something more. He said, — “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Here is another Divine attribute. This speaks of God’s great and glorious sovereignty. Moses not only saw that God is good, but also that he is sovereignly good.
God’s goodness without his sovereignty does not completely set forth his nature. If you only see one attribute of God, you only see part of his glorious being. God is good, but he is sovereign. He does as he pleases. And, though he is good to all, he is not obliged to do good to any. — “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”
God is an absolute sovereign. He has the right to do whatever he will. He can make man, or not make man. He can create man in his own image, or he can create a brute beast. He had the right to require of Adam anything he liked. And when Adam broke his law, he had the right to destroy all the race, or to save whosoever he pleased. — We are in the hands of God, like clay is in the hands of the potter, like creatures in the hands of the Creator. — God has the right, if he pleases, to save anyone in this house, or to crush all who are here into the deepest hell.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty crushes the pride of man. And men by nature do not like that, because man likes to think that he is something. But is it not right for a man to do as he will with his own? Surely, then, we cannot deny this right to God! — If he chooses to let men go on in the error of their way, that is his right. — But, if he chooses graciously to intervene (as he has), and say, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” that is his right.
This blessed attribute of God ought to cheer the hearts of God’s children, even as it did the heart of our Redeemer. — “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matthew 11:25-26).
We all deserve God’s wrath. We have no claim to his gracious mercy. But he is sovereignly good, so let us plead with him, and sue for mercy on the grounds of his goodness in Christ. And maybe, maybe he will show us mercy.
Perhaps he will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.
I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try,
For if I stay away, I know
I must forever die.
But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (delightful thought!)
As sinner never died.
Quote: Remember, “It is never said, ‘I will be angry with whom I will be angry,’ for his wrath is always just and holy; but “I will shew mercy on whom I will show mercy,’ for his grace is always free. He never damns by perogative, but by perogative he saves.” – M. Henry
Put these two things together, goodness and sovereignty, and we begin to see God’s glory. God is not gracious alone; he is sovereignly gracious. And he is not sovereign alone; he is graciously sovereign.
II. In the second place, I want you to briefly consider this question. – What did God conceal from Moses?
Read verse twenty. — “He said, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live.” This was a gracious concealment. There was as much mercy in what God hid from Moses as there is in what he revealed. — And there is as much mercy in what God hides from us as there is in what he reveals.
Don’t miss that. — When God hides a thing from us, there is as much mercy in his hiding as there is in his revelation. — “The secret things belong to the Lord, but the things that are revealed to us and to our children.” There are some things God does not intend for us to know. And that man is a fool who tries to pry into them. Let us be earnest students. But let us study only what God has revealed. God said to Moses, — “Thou canst not see my face.”
This statement certainly makes it abundantly clear that no man can see God’s face as a sinner and live. Any man who stands before the face of God, clothed in the filthy rags of his own righteousness, must perish.
But there is more. — No man, even as a saint, can see God’s face and live. There are such limitations to this physical body, that it could not endure the sight of God’s absolute glory. Even when we stand glorified in heaven, we shall behold the glory of God in the person of the God-man.
All that we can ever behold of God, upon this earth, is that which Moses saw, his “back parts”. — Those words, “my back parts,” I think refer to his regal train. As I pointed out this morning, his “back parts,” his royal, majestic train, is the Lord Jesus Christ, his incarnate, obedient, crucified, risen Son, our Savior, that One by whom Satan’s head is crushed, God’s elect are saved, and all that was ruined by Adam is restored, and all that was made wrong is righted!
I haven’t yet fully seen him, nor do I fully understand his Being. He is incomprehensible! — “Who only hath immortality dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen!” (1 Tim. 6:16); but, blessed be his name forever, God has revealed his dear Son in me, and I know him. — “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”
III. Here’s my third question. — I haven’t begun to touch the hem of the garment of this magnificent passage, but I have to move on. – How did God reveal his glory to Moses?
Read verses twenty-one through twenty-three. — “And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock; and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by; and I will takeaway mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” There is much here that is yet hidden to me; but there are some things that are obvious. And these obvious things are of tremendous importance, instructive and glorious.
Before any sinful man can behold the perfections of the infinitely glorious, righteous and holy God, he must be put into a place of security and peace. — Moses had to be put into a cleft of the rock before he could see God. That Rock was Christ. He is the Rock, the Rock of Israel, the Rock of Ages, the Rock of Refuge, Salvation and Strength. Blessed be his name forever! — Our God has provided us a place of shelter in the cleft of the Rock.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Grace has hid me safe in Thee!
Let the water and the blood
From thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Illustration: It is only in the cleft of the Rock that you can behold the glory of God. In North Carolina there is a mountain called Grandfather Mountain. As you drive along the highway, you can look at that mountain from many different places, and wonder where did it get such a name. But, if you drive on until you get to the north side of it, you can look up from its base and see, clearly and distinctly, the image of a man with a flowing beard. And so it is with you, my friend. Come with me under the shadow of the cross. Come there as a penitent sinner. Look there upon that visage more marred than any man. Realize that the Sufferer hangs as the Guiltless Substitute, dying for your sins. And you will see in him the glory of God’s goodness. His beauty will ravish your soul. But the only place to behold that glory is in the cleft of the Rock. Until you see God’s glorious goodness in Christ, any sight of him will terrify you.
Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just, and sacred Three,
Are terrors to my mind!
Look at the beautiful picture that we have here of the believer’s absolute security in Christ. — “Thou shalt stand upon a Rock.” We stand before God today, and for all eternity upon this blessed Foundation, and we shall not be confounded.
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
The Lord God said, “I will put thee in a cleft of the rock,” because no sinner can put himself into Christ. We were chosen in him, redeemed in him, accepted in him. And we were “created in Christ Jesus.”
Then, God said, “I will cover thee with my hand.” Not only is the believer in Christ. He is protected by the Father’s hand. “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and no man shall pluck them out of my Father’s hand!” (John 10:29). “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
Here is the great superiority of the gospel over the law. — The law had only a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of those things. But look at the blessed fullness of the Gospel – “God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
IV. Now, look briefly at chapter 34, and let me raise and answer one last question. — What is the glory of God revealed in Christ?
(Exodus 34:5-7) “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. (6) And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, (7) Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
Š Absolute Sovereignty
Š Boundless Mercy and Grace
Š Indescribable Long-suffering and Goodness
Š Full, Complete Forgiveness
Š Strict, Unbending Truth and Justice
(Exodus 34:8-9) “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. (9) And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.”
When Moses saw God’s great glory in Christ Jesus, when he saw the fulness of God in the crucified Redeemer, when he saw the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, he hurriedly bowed his face to the ground and worshipped God with yet three more earnest prayers.
Š “I pray thee go among us, for it is a stiff-necked people.”
Š “Pardon our iniquity and our sin.”
Š “Take us for thine inheritance!”
Sinner, soon you shall die. You will stand before the throne of infinite majesty, holiness and glory. And what will become of you then? — “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” God is so glorious, so pure, so full of light that it is written, “God is a consuming fire!” O, flee to Christ! Find shelter in the cleft of the Rock!
Here Moses saw only the back parts of the living God; but upon the Mt. of Transfiguration, he saw Christ’s “face shine as the sun.” And it shall be so, even with us. Now we see his glory. Now we see him who is invisible. We see his face, but only through a glass darkly. But, O blessed be God, we shall soon see him face to face! “In my flesh shall I see God!”
Š We shall see him, without sin.
Š We shall see him, personally.
Š We shall see him, as he is.
Š We shall see him, and when we see him, we shall be like him.
Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face, what will it be;
When with rapture I behold him,
Jesus Christ, who died for me?
Only faintly now I see him,
With a darkling vail between;
But a blessed day is coming,
When his glory shall be seen.
What rejoicing in his presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straitened,
And the dark things shall be plain.
Face to face, O blissful moment,
Face to face, to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.
Face to face, I shall behold him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all his glory,
I shall see him by and by.
We shall see him face to face, and we shall live! God hasten the day, for Jesus sake.
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