In his book Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. In this passage Moses begs God to show him his presence
Exodus 33: 12-23 (NRSV)
He said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”
The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”
Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.”
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’ and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” . . . .
Moses has come a long way, literally and metaphorically. From his start as a Hebrew baby hidden in the bulrushes of the Nile, to a prince in Pharaoh’s household, to an overseer of Hebrew workers, to a shepherd in the desert who stops by a burning bush one day and meets God, to a negotiator for his peoples’ freedom, to the face of God to the desperate and ungrateful Hebrews in the wilderness, to a leader who brokers the relationship between God and God’s people – he’s had quite a ride! He’s learned a lot about himself as a leader, about the whining people he leads, and about who God is.
In this passage, we see Moses and God conversing again. Moses is not satisfied with his relationship with God. He wants to know more. He demands to know more. “Show me your ways,” he says. “Show me your glory!” he pleads. Moses is growing, he is changing, he is being transformed. He and God have been on a journey, and he wants it to be a deeper one. In many ways, Moses’ journey is instructive to us, but his yearning to know more and more about God is his greatest gift.
Moses’ demand to God to “show me your glory” is a brave, perhaps seemingly impertinent, demand. As the book of Exodus (and the entire arc of the narrative of Scripture) shows us, God is eager to do just that! He knows us by name! Have you ever demanded that God show you his glory? Do you dare to face what that glory might reveal? What is God’s “glory” anyway? The soul-training exercises of reading scripture and prayer can help us here.
♥ Read the following scripture passages. How do they define and describe God’s glory? What new insights did you gain about your own journey with God?
- Genesis 1
- Deuteronomy 5
- 1 Chronicles 16: 8-36
- Psalm 19 (in The Message, if possible)
- Psalm 145
- Isaiah 45: 5-9
- Luke 2: 8-20
- John 11: 17-46
- Romans 15: 7
- 2 Corinthians 4
- 2 Peter: 12-21
♥ Events in 2016 may motivate us to learn more about how a God of glory speaks to us. The month of November ends with the beginning of season of advent. Spend this month asking God to show you his glory. What do you hear? What pertains particularly to you? What action might help you show God’s glory to the world? What can you say or do as we approach Christmas Day to glorify God.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“We always think of Moses as so faithful, but Moses is demanding to know God differently than even God presents God’s own self. In Exodus Chapter 33, Moses is alone with God and says, “Show me your glory, I pray.” Moses has the guts or in Hebrew the chutzpah to ask for God’s full self-revelation. Moses yearns to see God—the Creator of the Universe, the great I AM. After everything Moses has been through. . . . there is this moment where Moses turns to God and says, “Can I see you for real now, can you give me more of you?
. . . . Even if we get to a place where we can be like Moses and ask God to help us go deeper, for the ability to see God and understand God’s ways and how God works in the world, there will always be mystery here. We won’t get our every question answered. Because God is God and we are not. Because there’s a part of God that’s unknowable, inscrutable. And God holds in tension self-giving and the self-reserve that makes self-giving possible in the first place. But just because we may not get instant answers, it doesn’t mean that we don’t ask the questions on our hearts” (By the Rev. Lauren Lorincz in a sermon “Show Me the Glory” given at Pilgrim Congregational Church UCC in Lexington, MA)