In Exodus 33, Moses didn’t know it but God was about to bring him into a greater revelation of his glory and nature. This revelation would go far beyond friendship, far beyond intimacy. It’s a revelation God wants all his hurting people to know.
The Lord told Moses he was going to show him his glory: “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee” (Exodus 33:19). Then he said, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live…. [But] behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by” (33:20–22).
The Hebrew word for glory in this passage means “my own self.” God was telling Moses, “I myself will pass by near you.” One translation says it this way: “I will hide you in a cavity of the rock, and I will defend you with the protectiveness of my power until I have passed by.”
This is what the apostle Paul means when he says that we are “hid in Christ.” When we fail God—when we sin grievously against the light—we are not to linger in our fallen condition. Instead, we’re to quickly run to Jesus, to be hid in the Rock. Paul writes, “Our fathers…did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:1, 4).
What was the great revelation that God gave to Moses about himself? What is the truth about him that we’re to sanctify in our hearts? It is this:
“The Lord said unto Moses…be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai…And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:1, 2 and 5–7).
Here was the greater revelation, the full picture of who God is. The Lord told Moses, “Come up to this rock in the morning. I’ll give you a hope that will keep you. I’ll show you my heart as you’ve never seen it before.” What was the “glory” that Moses besought of the Lord?
Here is the glory: a God who is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquities and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.”
Christ is the full expression of that glory. Indeed, all that is in the Father is embodied in the Son. And Jesus was sent to earth to bring that glory to us.