Show Me Your GloryEGP Blog post from September 15, 2013
During Israel’s wilderness journey, God had grown so tired of them being defiantly set in their ways that didn’t honor Him, that He said if He “went with them” to the Promised Land, He would destroy them on the way. In fact, they’d reached the point where God said He would give the land to their descendants instead of them. (Exodus 33:1–3)
In the midst of this, we find Moses pleading with God. “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15) To which, God replied, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for YOU have found favor in My sight and I have known YOU by name.”
Even though the majority of Israel consistently rejected God, He honored the faith of the few…including Joshua, who has a strong craving for the Presence of God. (Exodus 33:11) We also see a similar message in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NASB), “My people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Perhaps Moses was weary and discouraged from a ministry over those who didn’t desire God, needed affirmation of God’s direction, or perhaps he had grown addicted to an intimate fellowship with God, but Moses’s spirit yearned for more this day.
Exodus 33:18, 20–23 (NASB)
 Then Moses° said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”  But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”  Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by° Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;  and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.  “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
Exodus 33:18 Lit he
Exodus 33:21 Lit with
What’s interesting about this passage is that in verse 11 we read that, “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” But here we have God saying, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” And in John 6:46, Jesus said about Himself, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.” So, what’s going on?
I think that the “face to face” here is more of the ability to sense God’s Presence as if He was sitting in the room with you and perhaps even the relaxed nature of their conversations (i.e., “as a man speaks to a friend”).
The word translated as “back” can be translated as “behind” or “afterward”. In this passage, it could carry more of the connotation of, “you shall see where I just was.” So, while Moses couldn’t see the Father’s Glory directly, he could see the Radiance (i.e., light, heat, emission) of His Glory.
Hebrews 1:3 (NASB) “And [Christ] is the Radiance of His Glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the Word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”