Saturday 26 May 2018

Bible Book:

“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (v. 11a)

Exodus 33:7-23 Saturday 26 May 2018

Psalm: Psalm 69:30-36


If we are to understand this passage we need the wider context. It follows on from the people of Israel turning from God to worshipping the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). So here we are in the midst of the ongoing argument between Moses and God about the nature of God’s relationship with the erring people of Israel.

God had promised to dwell with the Israelites, but after they had broken their covenant promise God’s mind is changed about the nature of the relationship with God’s own people. Moses tries to change God’s mind. Firstly, God promises the people the presence of an angel to guide them (Exodus 33:2). Moses was not satisfied with this so he pushes God a bit more until God concedes to travel with the people (verse 14). Moses then pushes his luck even further and asks God to show him God’s own glory (verse 18). God refuses, saying that Moses can only see his back and not his face (verse 23).

This is paradoxical as only a few verses earlier the passage says “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend”.

So this text speaks to a central paradoxical theme not only in Exodus but in all the Scripture, namely that the Creator of the whole universe deigns to abide with finite human beings – a truly astonishing thing.

So here we have Moses modelling courageous prayer and supplication to God, a prayer that is not afraid to hold God to God’s own promises and demand the presence of God’s Spirit with is people.

To Ponder

  • Moses is a courageous mediator between God and wayward people – do you feel you have that level of courage, persistence and chutzpah in your requests to God?
  • What are the modern-day equivalents of the Golden Calf?
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