Sermon #107 Exodus Series
Title: “Show Me Thy Glory”
Text: Exodus 33:12-23
Subject: Moses’ Prayer and God’s Revelation
Date: Sunday Morning — August 30, 2009
Tape: Exodus #107
Reading: Psalm 85:1-13
My text contains one of the boldest prayers a man ever uttered. At first glance, it might appear that no mere man upon the earth could ever asked such a favor from God. Listen to this great prayer. This is a mighty request, a great, a very great request. Moses said, in verse 18, — “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” He could not have asked for more. This is, perhaps, the greatest request of faith to be found in all the Volume of Holy Scripture. Here, Moses stands out as a giant among giants.
Š Abraham showed great faith when he went out into he plain to offer up intercession for such a guilty city as Sodom.
Š It was a great faith that enabled Jacob to lay hold of the Angel of the Lord, refusing to release his hold until he had received the blessing he desired.
Š Elijah was strong in faith when he was able to rend the heavens and bring rain from the skies that had been as brass before.
But, it seems to me that, if you put all of these requests together, they would pale in comparison with this prayer of Moses. It is the greatest request that a man could ever make to God, — “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.”
I repeat, in all the Book of God, I find no parallel to this prayer. Moses’ prayer in this place, at the foot of Sinai’s mount, surpasses that of any other mere man. After making his request, when he had put his desire into words, Moses’ bones must have trembled, his blood must have chilled in his veins, his hair must have stood on end.
Š Jacob was a man of great faith, but, when the Lord God revealed himself to him, Jacob was astonished that he had survived the revelation. — “Jacob called the name of that place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30).
Š When Manoah saw the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ, he was struck with fear. — “Manoah said unto his wife, we shall surely die, because we have seen God (Judges 13:22).
Š Isaiah’s response to the vision he had of God’s glory was — “Woe is me! For I am undone; (I am cut off) because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
Š The Apostle John was a truly noble man, an example we would be wise to follow. Not only did he lay his head upon Savior’s breast physically, he walked in heart to heart communion of the Son of God. Yet, when he saw the exalted, glorified God-man, he said, — “I fell at his feet as one dead” (Revelation 1:17).
Moses himself was astonished that God would even speak to him, much less that he should show him his glory. He said to the children of Israel, — “Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man and he liveth…For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” (Deuteronomy 5:24, 26). Surely, Moses himself was astonished that he could ask such a favor as this, — “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.”
But how did Moses come to make such a request? What was it that God used to put this prayer in his heart? What inspired this man to pray, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory”?
Moses had been in Sinai’s mount in communion with God for forty days (Exodus 24:18). For forty blessed days he dwelt in the presence of his God. Jehovah had spoken to him as a man speaks with his own friend. Such nearness to God gave the meekest man on earth the boldness of faith to ask the greatest blessing any man could ever enjoy upon the earth.
Moses’ prayer was the culmination of God’s gracious dealings with him and of his faithful reliance upon his God. Before Moses said, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” he had sought and received several other tokens of God’s gracious favor. I want you to observe the three prayers that went before this one.
Š The Lord God revealed his good will to Moses, his purpose of grace in Christ, in the burning bush (Exodus 3).
Š He revealed his great and glorious name, Jehovah, to his servant on Horeb’s holy ground.
Š Moses had seen God’s wonders in the land of Ham.
Š He saw Pharaoh and the armies of Egypt in the Red Sea.
Look back to chapter thirty-two. The Lord was angry with the children of Israel, because they had made a golden calf and bowed down before it. The Lord said to Moses, — “Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation” (v. 10). But Moses loved the children of Israel and sought God’s glory. He was more concerned for God’s people and God’s glory than he was for himself. So he put God in remembrance of his covenant with Abraham, and of his deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt. He argued that if the nation were slain God’s name would be mocked and blasphemed by the Egyptians. Then, he prayed, — “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sins; — and if not, blot me I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” (v. 32). Like Jacob of old, Moses prevailed with God. He received a fresh testimony of God’s grace, in sparing the guilty nation.
In our text, we see that this great prayer, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” was preceded by three other great prayers. Let’s look at them. We will begin in Exodus 33:12.
(Exodus 33:12) “And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.”
In verse 1 the Lord told Moses to bring the children of Israel on to the Land of Canaan. In verse 3 the Lord told Moses he would not go in the midst of the stiff-necked people. Christ, the Angel of the Lord, would continue to go before them and behind them; but he said he would no longer walk in their midst. — Moses knew he could perform the task before him, without God’s help and presence. Watch him plead his cause before the Lord. — Watch him put God in remembrance. — “Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified” (Isaiah 43:26).
Š “Thou hast said, I know thee by name.” — You have declared that you love me, — that you have chosen me, — that you approve of me, — that you have ordained and predestined me, — that you accept me.
Š “Thou has also found grace in my sight!” — You are the object of my favor and good will.
(Exodus 33:13) “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.”
Read the word “if” as “since.” Moses was not expressing some doubt concerning God’s grace or of the fact that he was the object of God’s grace. Rather, he is pleading his cause, offering a reason for his prayer. — “Since I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way.”
The Lord God had commanded his servant to guide his people. But Moses knew and confessed his weakness and ignorance, and sought the guidance of God to walk in his way. He knew that God’s way was not the way that man would choose. He knew that God’s way might be a rough and dark way. But he knew God’s way to be the best and wisest way. Only as Israel walked in God’s way would the name of God be glorified. So he prayed, “Shew me now thy way.”
Š Thy Way through This Wilderness!
Š Thy Way among All These Enemies!
Š Thy Way to Canaan!
Š Thy Way of Providence!
Š Thy Way of Grace!
Š Thy Way of Salvation!
(John 14:6) “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
(Psalms 5:8) “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.”
(Psalms 27:11) “Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.”
(Psalms 44:18) “Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way.”
(Psalms 86:11) “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”
(Psalms 119:37) “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”
Look at the reasons Moses urges before the Lord, the reasons he desired to know God’s way.
Š “That I may know thee.” (Philippians 3:10).
Š “That I may find grace in thy sight.” — “My grace is sufficient for thee!”
Next, God’s servant prays, “Consider that this nation is thy people.” He put the Lord in remembrance of his elect people, his covenant people, whom he had chosen for his own heritage (Deuteronomy 9:26; Joel 2:17). — “Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deuteronomy 33:4). — “Jacob (is) his people and Israel his inheritance” (Psalm 78:71).
(Deuteronomy 9:26) “I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”
(Joel 2:17) “Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”
Š They are a sinful people; but they are your people. — You chose them.
Š They are a stiff-necked people; but they are your people. — You redeemed them.
Š They are a straying people; but they are your people. — You called them.
Š They are a weak people; but they are your people. — You keep them.
Š They are a fallen people; but they are your people. — You gave them your name.
Š They are a fickle people; but they are your people. — You took them into covenant union with yourself.
Š They are just people, just men and women, just flesh and blood; but they are your people. — Your honor is wrapped up in them.
Read verses 14 and 15.
In verse 14 the Lord God makes a great promise of great grace.
(Exodus 33:14) “And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
God’s presence is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of his presence. — “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:9).
The rest promised here speaks specifically of Canaan, the land of rest. Canaan typified God’s salvation in Christ. The promise is the blessed sabbath rest of grace and salvation in Christ (Hebrews 4:9-10; Matthew 11:28-30).
(Hebrews 4:9-10) “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (10) For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
(Matthew 11:28-30) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
As soon as Moses heard God’s promise, he said, I’ve got to have that, and laid hold of the promise, urging God’s promise as the basis of his prayer.
(Exodus 33:15) “And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.”
“And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” — Without his presence, without Christ, everything else is worthless and insignificant! Even the land of Canaan, the promised land of rest and plenty, is nothing in comparison with God’s presence, nothing in comparison with our Savior!
It does not much matter what we have or where we are, if we do not enjoy the presence of God. But if God is with us, the greatest hardships in the wilderness are easy; and we pass through our difficulties with peace, if not pleasure. It is as though Moses had said, “Lord, if you go with me, I can do all that you require. But, if you will not go with me, then all will come to nothing.”
Moses goes on to use even stronger pleas, with which to urge his request before the throne of grace. — Like a child on his father’s lap, he argues his case for the thing he wants. — Like a poor, needy soul before one who is able to supply his need, Moses offers reasons for God to give him his abiding presence (v. 16).
(Exodus 33:16) “For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.”
Š The Lord’s presence with us is the manifestation and evidence of his grace toward us, upon us and in us.
Š His presence with us and in us is our sanctification, the thing that separates us and distinguishes us from “all the people that are upon the face of the earth”
Š The word “separated” might be better translated “marvelously separated;” and truly we are marvelously separated from all people by our God! — By Purpose! — By Purchase! — By Providence! — By Power!
In verse 17 we read the Lord’s answer to Moses’ prayer.
(Exodus 33:17) “And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.”
(Hebrews 4:16) “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Now, I want us to look at this great request to see God’s glory, and see God’s gracious response to it. May it please God the Holy Spirit to show us something of God’s greatness and his glory. I will, the Lord willing, come back to this tonight; but I’ve got to give you just a little more.
(Exodus 33:18) “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory.”
(Exodus 33:19) “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.”
(Exodus 33:20) “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”
In this present state we see through a glass darkly. We see nothing perfectly. We certainly do not and cannot see God’s glorious face, his magnificent Being fully.
(Exodus 33:21-22) “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.”
(Exodus 33:23) “And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”
I’ve asked God to show me what those words mean, — “thou shalt see my back parts.” I’ve been completely stumped for more than forty years. But I believe the Lord has shown me.
Š When the Lord God passed by Moses, the One who passed by him was Christ, the pre-incarnate Savior, in human form.
Š God’s “back parts” refer to our Savior’s humanity, specifically to his suffering and death in human flesh.
Š It was his back parts, his humanity, his heel, that was bruised in our redemption.
Š It was his back parts, his heel, his humanity, that crushed the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
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!
Would you see the glory of God? — Look to Christ. Only in the crucified Lamb of God does God show his glory (2 Corinthians 4:3-6; 5:17-21).
(2 Corinthians 4:3-6) “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. (6) For God, who commanded the 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 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
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 I’m sure none of you remember it, but on the Sunday before we moved into this building as our permanent house of worship (August 31, 1980) was from this text. — I call you to bear witness with me, our God has been as good as his Word. — His presence has been with us these (almost) 30 years. — Has it not?