Read: Exodus 33:7-23
Consider: Exodus 33 records events where Moses would meet with God in the tent of meeting. Perhaps, like me, you are fascinated that we are told: The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11a). Some people read this and imagine that Moses and God were ‘buddies’ or ‘best pals’. This, however, does not convey anything of the real relationship God had with Moses. Moses did have a unique relationship with God, as he was able to enter the tent of meeting to bring matters of concern before God. The fact that God spoke with Moses ‘face to face’ does not mean that Moses saw what God looked like. This is clear from later in the chapter where God reveals his glory to Moses, but prevents Moses seeing his face (33:19-23). What we have in Exodus 33 is a record of a personal relationship that Moses had with God. This is, of course, a foreshadow of the unique and personal relationship believers can have with Christ. In John 15:13 we read: Greater love has no-one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. While Moses met with God in the tent of meeting, we are told that the Israelites: ‘… stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to their tent (33:10). The people had to wait for Moses to share anything God had told him, as they could not have any direct contact with God. As believers today we have direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:18).
The second part of today’s reading (33:12-23) records the words of God when he spoke directly to Moses, before he revealed his glory to him. You may have concentrated on the wonder of God revealing himself to Moses and the protection God gave Moses as he passed by. However, look again at what God says: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion (33:19b). Paul quotes this verse in Romans 9:15 when he discusses salvation by faith and then he says: It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (9:16). Paul saw the very obvious link between the mercy and compassion of God that was promised in Exodus, with the mercy and compassion of God displayed in the death of Jesus on the cross to bear the price for our sins.
My prayer for you and myself can be summed up in the words of Moses: If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so that I may know you and continue to find favour with you (Exodus 33:13).
Pray: Father, we praise you that we do not need to enter the tent of meeting to converse with you, but have direct access to you in prayer. May we always be open to your teaching and guidance. Amen