When you ask the Lord to see his glory, as Moses did in Exodus 33, what are you expecting? Moses asked and probably got an answer he didn’t expect. “Please show me your glory,” he said. God replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD’…But you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (vv. 19a-20). A few verses later, God says to Moses that he will only see his back, but that he cannot see his face.
Moses probably wanted to see God’s full splendor, majesty, and brillance. He probably wanted a sign. He wanted something amazing to happen. What he got was a flicker of lighting, as if seen in the corner of his eye, but it was all Moses could handle. Any more and Moses would have been consumed.
In chapter 34, God finally shows Moses his glory. Verse 6 says, “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”
God showed Moses his glory by speaking. He simply “passed by.” Moses got a glimpse of God’s back, and it was splendid. From this we have at least two implications. When we ask to see God’s glory:
- God will speak. For us, this happens through his written word, which he spoke to men who wrote it down. God authored a book, and his glorious self is revealed in the pages of that book called the Bible.
- God will speak his name. God said in 34:19, “I will proclaim before you my name.” Then in 35:6 he says, “Yahweh, Yahweh!” and continues on to reveal to us what that means. He describes his identity, his essence, and his attributes. God is a forgiver, a lover, and a gracious Father, but that he is also a just God who punishes those who are unrepentant of sin.
To see God’s glory, go to the pages of Scripture. He has revealed himself there. Read his words and soak them up “taste and see that God is good!” God will speak and he will speak his name. He will point you to Jesus, the true reflection of God, because he is God himself. Jesus is the one who shows that God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” because he lived it, purchased it, and sealed it with his blood on the cross.