Advent: November 29
Exodus 33:19-23, 34:6
33: 19 And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’
21 Then the Lord said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’19 And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
34:6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, …
Moses had put in a request to see God’s glory. He’d spent time on the mountain with God when he received the Law from God’s hand. Later on, Moses made a tent outside the camp (the Israelites were in the wilderness after leaving Egypt) and would enter it to meet with God. Here God met with Moses face to face, but it was not a face-to-face as we would understand it. The cloud of God’s presence filled the tent, and I imagine that Moses would not be able to see much at all.
In a meeting with God, Moses asked to see God’s glory. God’s response to that request is recorded in verse 19 above. Moses would be granted an experience of God, though not a full view. Moses had spent time in God’s presence on the mountain, but God had been enveloped in cloud. Part of the experience would be to hear God pronounce his name, and what a name it is! The Lord, the Holy Lord, God of compassion and grace, slow to anger, loving and faithful – and this only part of God’s name. Read on in Chapter 34 to find out.
We would do well to repeat God’s name each day, and ponder on the aspects of his person.
God by name and God by nature. While God’s name is compassion and mercy, God still reserves the right to dispense or to reserve these as he wills. God is not bound to be merciful, and we have no right to demand mercy from God.
Between that verse and the next one above Moses is summoned to the mountain to receive the Law once again (Moses had broken it, quite literally, when he smashed the original tablets).
God tucked Moses into a cleft in the rock on the mountain and passed by before him. God pronounced his name, a name like no other, a name that perfectly describes who God is, both mighty and merciful. Again, Moses’ face was covered so that he could not see God directly.
Why did God cover Moses’ face?
What do you think God looks like?
How much of God do you need to see to recognise him as God?
Father God, You are who You are, and You do not change. You are the same from everlasting to everlasting. Compassion and mercy are in your everlasting name. Bring me closer into the understanding of your name and nature. Amen.