Questions for Littles: What had the Lord told Moses to do (33:12)? But what hadn’t the Lord let Moses know? What did Moses ask the Lord to show him in v13? Whom did the Lord promise would go with them in v14? In v15, what did Moses ask God not to do, if God was not going to go with them? What did Moses say (in v16) that it would show if God’s Presence did go with them? What would God’s presence do between the Israelites and every other people on the face of the earth (v16)? What does the Lord say He will do in v17? Then what new request does Moses make (v18)? What does God promise to pass before Moses (v19)? What does He promise to proclaim? What does He refuse to show Moses (v20)? How does the Lord plan to protect Moses in v21-23? What does the Lord tell Moses to do before this happens (34:1)? Where is Moses to bring the tablets (v2)? Who else is to come (v3)? When Moses goes up the mountain, what does the Lord do (v5)? What does the Lord proclaim (v5)? How, specifically, does the Lord proclaim His Name (v6-7)? What are the first seven things that the Lord says about Himself? What does He say after that (the part about not clearing the guilty, etc.)? How does Moses respond in v8? What request does he now repeat in v9? What addition request (about their iniquity and sin) does he now add?This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from Exodus 33:12—34:9. In chapter 32, the Lord had threatened to destroy Israel for the idolatry of the golden calf, but Moses had interceded for them, and rather than destroying them, the Lord plagued them.
But the most difficult consequence came at the beginning of chapter 33, when God said that He would give them everything else that He had promised—except Himself.
To their credit, this caused the people to grieve and mourn. Though they had just recently wondered if God existed or if they would ever see Moses again, the Lord’s fury and plaguing them had reminded them of His greatness and glory.
Suddenly, the promised land seemed small and empty if it did not also have with it the presence of God. As Moses met with God in chapter 33 far outside the camp, the people longed after the presence of the Lord.
We give the Israelites a difficult time, and rightly so, when we consider their conduct in the Exodus, and truly throughout their entire history. However, I wonder if we have considered that they sometimes surprise us by acting in a way that puts us to shame.
This was one of those times. Moses brings the people’s request to God—pleading that the Lord would go with them. The Lord Himself, after all, is His own greatest gift. When the Lord grants the request, Moses asks one better and bigger one: that the Lord would show to Moses His glory.
Even just of the back of the passing demonstration of glory, and covered by God for his own protection, Moses sees a spectacular display. But the primary display was to the ears, not the eyes.
The Lord proclaimed His own name, with a seven-fold description of stunning grace and mercy—without sacrificing His justice even a particle.
Right at the heart of that description is God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (“goodness and truth” in NKJV, v6. Some fourteen hundred years later, John would declare that though no one had seen God at any time, Jesus Christ had fully revealed Him.
Indeed, as John says, “the Word became flesh… and we beheld His glory… full of goodness and truth.”
In Jesus, the same continues to be displayed to us—to our ears rather than our eyes, just as with Moses. By the plain speaking of the truth (2Cor 4:2), the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines into our hearts in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:6). Whatever else we may desire from Him, let us never forget that He Himself is His own greatest gift!
What does it look like in our lives, if we truly believe that God is His own greatest gift?Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or HB414 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”