Notes: March 10, 2008 – Exodus 33

Moses wants to see God.

I.  God repeats His command for Moses to lead the people into the promised land, and God repeats His promise to send His Angel to fight for them (Exodus 33:1-6).

II. Moses (and Joshua) meet with God in a tent outside the camp while the people stand in the doorway of their tents awaiting God’s word (Exodus 33:7-11)

III. Moses, looking for a sign of God’s guarantee, asks first to see God’s way (13) and then to see God’s glory (18). God grants the request as far as divinely possible (Exodus 33:12-23).

Meditation Points:

  1. When God speaks to us one time, that should be sufficient; but when God repeats His word to us, then we should especially take notice. After the debacle over the golden calf, one might have thought that God would abandon the people; but God repeats His will for Moses to assure him and the people that God will be true to His word.
  2. God’s angel (2) is mentioned again also. A death angel passed through Egypt the night before Israel left; and a guiding and protecting angel will travel with them into the promised land. God knows (and names) the various enemies that Israel will face in the land; He will not be taken by surprise, and the people should expect opposition, too.  But, by telling them this in advance, God assures them that He is in control and that they have nothing to fear from the heathen.
  3. One change to the plan arises, however.  God will not be with them (3).  They will enjoy the security of God’s angel and the blessings of the land, but God will not dwell among them.  What good is heaven if God isn’t there?  How many people today would be satisfied with all the blessings but not the One who blesses?  Moses and the people do not want to be wealthy but abandoned by God.
  4. Outside the camp was a place where Moses could meet with God.  Outside the gate of Jerusalem is where Jesus was crucified on behalf of sinners (Hebrews 13). “Come out from among them” (1 Corinthians 6:14-17) is always appropriate when we would meet God.
  5. The people, who had a vested interest in the outcome of these meetings between Moses and God, stood by their tents awaiting the final decision concerning their well-being.  They knew the consequences; and they could do nothing but wait.  God’s will, and God’s will alone, would determine their future.  If He would be gracious to them, they would be saved; if He chose not to show mercy, they would be left in their sin.  And so has it been through the ages since the fall of Adam. Men cannot save themselves; they must trust in the God who is gracious.
  6. Moses wants to know God better. Not satisfied with past encounters and revelations, Moses wants to know God as much as possible. How different this is from the many who are satisfied with a little Bible history and knowledge of the “story” of Christ. We, too, should want to know God as intimately as we can.

    Philippians 3:10-14
    10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
    11  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
    12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
    13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
    14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

  7. If God doesn’t go with him, Moses doesn’t want to go (15). If God goes with him, Moses will go anywhere.  That is faith!
  8. The truth about God in verse 19 is denied both by those who say that God would never condemn a soul to hell, and by those who say that God never chooses to save some and to pass by others.  We should believe what God says about himself.
  9. The incarnation of Christ does not change the truth that no man shall see God and live (20), that no man has seen God at any time (John 1:18;  1 John 4:12). As looking into the blazing sun will blind you, so looking at the brightness of the glory of God will kill you.