The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Your inheritance.”
And He said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst."
One afternoon in 1960 or 1961, President John F. Kennedy visited Albuquerque, New Mexico, traveling in a motorcade up Central Avenue. As a child my husband lived less than a mile from the route, and, hearing where the President would be, his mother rushed her four children into the car and raced to Central, because this was a chance, even in Albuquerque, to see the President in person. The motorcade moved fast, but my husband remembers his glance at that famous, smiling profile—in person.
Moses knew God well. He met with God regularly in a tent outside Israel’s encampment. The LORD’s presence would appear near the tent’s entrance in a pillar of cloud. The people worshiped as God spoke to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
The Israelites had sinned terribly by worshiping a golden calf while Moses was with God on Mt. Sinai. Now God announced He would not accompany them to their land, but would send an angel to guide them. God had brought Moses out of Egyptian slavery, across the Red Sea, past the people’s cries and complaints, and even through the catastrophe of the golden calf. Yet this was the worst crisis of all—that God would not personally go with them.
Moses pleaded with God to not send them at all if He wouldn’t go with them. Moses began his entreaty, however, by asking, “now show me Your ways, that I may know You,” seeking deeper knowledge for greater favor with God.
God agreed to remain with His people, but now within Moses, even in his nation’s great need, a holy passion ignited, and he asked God, “Please, show me Your glory.”
What is your great need from God today? Is there a new emergency? Is there a career conflict; is a relationship crashing? Is there a health crisis? Do you need God to act, and so that is your intense prayer? Yes! But, like Moses, the sudden or accumulating needs in your life may be the backdrop for new light on God’s character and a new desire for that light within you.
God called Moses up to Mt. Sinai again, and in wondrous response to Moses’ prayer, appeared before His overwhelmed servant, protecting Moses in the cleft of a great rock. With Moses seeing only His “back,” God manifested His glory, His multiplied, magnificent goodness. And as He did, He spoke, identifying Himself as merciful and gracious—withholding the blame and punishment His people deserve and granting them favor they don’t deserve. God said He is not some cruel tyrant but is slow to anger. He overflows in faithfulness and love that keep covenant, despite the failures of those He loves. He forgives sin. He does not tolerate sin, but He forgives it. His perfect justice establishes consequences of sin, sadly observable through generations; yet His grace reaches so much farther!
How can God be perfectly gracious and perfectly just? He would place the guilt of all His people’s sin on His perfect Son on the cross, fulfilling justice and accomplishing His people’s redemption. No other love could be so full and so good.
Could your pressing need, which God wants you to express to Him, be also the context for a new open window to His character and His glory, revealing Him in ways you have never seen before?
Heavenly Father, show us Your ways so that we may know You. In grace, show us the manifold marvels of Your beautiful, excellent, pure goodness. Show us Your glory.