Friday, April 21, 2023

2023.04.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 33:12–23

Read Exodus 33:12–23

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to Whom in Exodus 33:12? What had Yahweh said to him? But hasn’t Yahweh said? With what two statements does this lack of information seem to conflict? From Whom has Moses taken the statement in the first part of Exodus 33:13? What does he ask to be shown? Whom does he ask to know? What is his final request in verse 13? What will Yahweh send (Exodus 33:14)? Who will be the One to give them rest? What does Moses say about this (Exodus 33:15)? Why is this necessary (Exodus 33:16)? What sort of people must they therefore be? What will Yahweh do (Exodus 33:17)? Why—what two things does Yahweh now repeat (cf. Exodus 33:12)? Now what request does Moses make (Exodus 33:18)? What does Yahweh say He will make Moses to see (Exodus 33:19)? What will He make him to hear? How is it that Yahweh can be gracious and compassionate (cf. Romans 9:14–16)? What can’t Moses see (Exodus 33:20)? Why not (cf. John 1:18, John 14:8–9)? Where does He tell Moses to go (Exodus 33:21)? What will pass by (Exodus 33:22)? Where will Yahweh put Moses? How will Moses be covered? Then what (Exodus 33:23)? What will Moses see? What won’t he see?

What encourages God’s people to ask great things from Him? Exodus 33:12–23 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God’s people learn what to ask of Him from His own Word, and what they learn to ask is marvelously glorious. 

The Lord has told Moses that His Angel would go before Him (Exodus 33:2), but He has made it clear that, as of now, He will not go with Him (Exodus 33:3Exodus 33:5). As we have seen, this is cause for mourning (Exodus 33:1-6), but as we have also seen, the Lord has a special favor toward Moses, speaking face to face with him as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11). So, it is on this basis that Moses prays that in His personal mercies to Moses (“show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight”), Yahweh would show national and covenantal mercy to Israel  (“consider that this nation is Your people”). 

Where did Moses get the idea to ask that he would know the Lord and find grace in His sight (Exodus 33:13)? The Lord Himself has said, “I know you by name, and you have also found grace in my sight” (Exodus 33:12). And He will say it again (Exodus 33:17). Since we don’t have recorded the instance of God’s saying this that is previous to Exodus 33:12, the implication is that the Lord Himself has said it in that speech described at the end of Exodus 33:9 and beginning of Exodus 33:12.

The prayer request is a great one—not only that the Lord would be present to them (Exodus 33:15Exodus 33:14a), but that this presence would be favorable (end of Exodus 33:13Exodus 33:14b). The Lord’s answer in verse 14 uses the verb form of Noah’s name. Although the Lord’s presence may be a consuming presence as unto the rest of the world in the flood, He promises here that His presence will be a redeeming presence to give them rest, as it was unto Noah.

The Lord’s response encourages Moses to continue praying the same thing, again in Exodus 33:15-16. He takes a further cue from the “Noah” reference, coupled with the “found grace in my sight” language (cf. Genesis 6:8) to pray specifically regarding the distinction that the Lord’s grace would make between Israel and “all the people who are upon the face of the earth” (borrowing language from Genesis 6–7).

Again, the Lord repeats a promise (Exodus 33:17) and again Moses prays as provoked by that promise (Exodus 33:18). Unto what end is the Lord’s grace and fellowship, except that we would know His glory? Moses specifically uses a verb for sight (“show me” in verse 18), and the Lord promises to make that goodness (Exodus 33:19a) and glory (Exodus 33:22a) pass by. 

But it is not by his eyes but by his ears that the Lord will give Moses to know His glory. The Lord will cover Moses while the goodness and glory pass (end of Exodus 33:22) and make him to see some remnants and effects (Exodus 33:23), but this will not be the great revelation of the Lord. Rather, it will be in Yahweh’s proclamation of His own Name (Exodus 33:19, cf. Exodus 34:6–7) that He will most fully reveal Himself.

There is a play on words here. The Lord tells Moses that he cannot see the Lord’s face (Exodus 33:20Exodus 33:23), but we have just heard the Spirit emphasize that Yahweh spoke t Moses face to face (Exodus 33:11; cf. Numbers 12:8, Deuteronomy 34:10). It is by the Word that we “see” God’s face. And this is most true when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It was then that the Spirit says that men “beheld His glory” (cf. John 1:14). No one has seen God at any time, but it is in Jesus that God is fully revealed (cf. John 1:18) to such an extent that Jesus is all that one can see or will ever see of God Himself (cf. John 14:8–9). And it is by the hearing of the plain word that the Lord currently gives us to “see” Jesus’s face, and the glory of God in that face (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2–6).

Would you have the great glories that God has promised? Then what you should look for and pray for is to know God in Jesus Christ by the hearing of His Word! This is the ultimate gift of God’s grace to us.

How are you building the skill of praying according to God’s Word? What sorts of things, then, do you pray for?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us to be known by You and to find grace in Your sight. Grant unto us to know You and find rest and favor from You in Jesus Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee” 

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