Friday 21 November 2014

Bible Book:

“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.’” (vv. 19-20)

Exodus 33:12-23 Friday 21 November 2014


St Augustine of Hippo wrote: "You have formed us for yourself,and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you." We can seethat restlessness throughout the history of humanity and in thispassage we see it very powerfully in Moses, whose longing to beclose to God causes him to ask to see God's glory. God explains toMoses, however, that no human could endure to see God as God reallyis; God is the ultimate reality, and as T S Eliot says, "Humankindcan only bear so much reality". Therefore God has to protect Moses,and all humans, from experiencing the fullness of his reality.

Instead, humans can only see where God has passed by, and thusperceive God by God's past actions (verse 23). This is why it is soimportant for Israel to continue to recall God rescuing her fromEgypt. Nonetheless, God agrees reveal signs of God's own nature toMoses, which are described here as "goodness" and "graciousness"(v. 19). And despite their arrogance, God focuses thisloving-kindness on the people of Israel.

For Moses pleads not only for a revelation for himself, but alsofor God's continuing merciful presence with the people. As he says,there is no point in Israel reaching the promised land if God willnot be there with them (verse 15). He also reminds God that Israelhas been called to be distinctive amongst the nations, and asksthat that distinctiveness comes from the presence of God amongstthem (verse 16).

God hears Moses and agrees that God's own presence will indeedgo with Israel and that, ultimately, God he will give them the restof living in God's own presence (verse 14).

To Ponder

  • Is your heart restless for God?
  • How can the reality of God's presence be both restful andunbearable? Both in general terms and for you in particular?
  • We can see the fullness of God in the person of Jesus Christ.What does Jesus show us about the nature of God?
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