Thursday 03 May 2012

Bible Book:

"Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent." (v. 11)

Exodus 33:1-23 Thursday 3 May 2012


Today's story continues from the one we read yesterday. Therelationship between God and Israel is in crisis after Israel madeand worshipped a golden calf. But now they face a new threat - theycan have the Promised Land of which they have dreamed, but God willnot go with them (verse 3).

The ornaments that the people first refuse to wear (verse 4) andthen strip off (verse 6) have a special significance. When theIsraelites left Egypt they took with them gold and silver jewellerythat the Egyptians gave them (Exodus12:35-36). Aaron made the golden calf out of gold jewellery (Exodus32:2). The implication seems to be that now the ornamentsthemselves are a problem; perhaps the story is saying that havingplundered the Egyptians, now the people should show theirrepentance by doing the same thing to themselves.

But if the first half of the story is one where God's absence isthreatened and the people repent, the second half leads up to oneof the great biblical encounters with God. It is noticeable thatverse 11 already assures us that God speaks to Moses intimately -somehow now Moses is to see even more of God. We are asked toreflect on the idea that to see God's glory is greater even than anexperience of speaking to God face to face.

In the conversation in verses 12-16 we see again that Moses is ata point of crisis and that the crisis can only be met if he knowsGod and knows God's ways. Moses also continues to pray not only forhimself but for all the people of Israel; without God's presencethey will be nothing and there is no point going any further.

When Moses prays "show me your glory" (v. 18), Yahweh respondswith the promise of a proclamation which will say something aboutwhat God is like. Moses has prayed to see, he promised that he willhear the voice of God, learn more about who God is, but to see Goddirectly would be more than he could bear.

To Ponder

  • Moses is very direct in his prayer - what does this haveanything to teach us?
  • Moses asks to see God's glory, but is promised only that hewill hear God's voice and see God's back. Do you see anysignificance in this? What?

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