Exodus 33:18-23 – Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’
Devotion: Be careful with your petitions unto the Lord, servants of God, for you may get what you do not understand or expect. The Lawgiver asked the Lord, “Show me your glory, I pray.’’ Did Moses fully understand the request he was making of the Almighty One? God had already promised the continued Divine presence with Israel. Was the Word of the Lord not enough for their salvation? Did the People of God, or their leaders, need to see the magnificent glory of the Lord to be assurance of God’s presence?
Was Moses prepared to see the kābôd, the glory, or literally, the “weight” of God? No, for God answered his servant, “no one shall see me and live”? Although we long to be like Job, to see God with our own eyes, we must remember that people who encounter the glory of God without divine protection are in danger of eradication. The marvelous splendor of God’s glory cannot be fully experienced or comprehended by sinful humanity apart from Jesus Christ. Encountering the glory of the Lord is a dignified desire, and yet, a disastrous deed. This did not deter Moses’ bold prayer for the impossible: let me endure your weight, God.
Instead of compromising Moses’ life, the Lord granted Moses’ petition in a different way: “You shall see my back” (v. 15). Moses was placed in the safety of the cleft of the rock, protected by the hand of God, as the Lord passed by (v. 22). Since God’s splendor was too great for humanity, we were allowed to experience God in past acts and deeds. We see God’s passing glory, the revelation of the Divine self in history, and glimpse the glory of God.
But now, in Jesus Christ, our Rock of Salvation, we do not need to pray the words of Moses, like the Apostle Philip, when he asked Jesus a similar petition, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” In Jesus, the fullness of God is pleased to dwell and the glory of God shines upon humanity. Therefore, in Christ, we confidentially enter into the presence of the Lord. Yet, let us be cautious not to enter God’s presence arrogantly. For we must always be ready to encounter the fullness of God’s radical, reforming righteousness, which does not leave us unchanged, but humbles, convicts, and makes us grateful for God’s gracious presence.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for not destroying humanity by your glorious presences, but showing yourself to be compassionate and kind in Christ Jesus. Invite us into your glorious presence where we can be transformed into the image of your Son, by the work of your Spirit. Amen.
Prayer Exercise: “Praying with Mandala,” page 293, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown. All rights reserved.