Knowing God was sufficient for Moses. Rather than going to the Promised Land, he asked of God, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). I can imagine God’s pleasure at hearing this. Every earthly father knows the pleading of his children’s voices asking for things, but nothing warms a dad’s heart like hearing his child say, “Daddy, I love you for who you are.”
God was so pleased with Moses’ desire that He granted his request, as far as He could allow it. “He said, ‘You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live’” (Exodus 33:20).
GOD’S FIERCE LIGHT
God’s unapproachable light is too fierce for humans to experience fully; His holiness is all-consuming: “Lest I consume you on the way” (33:3). But He did want Moses to experience His glory in part. The Lord told him, in effect, “I can’t show you My face but I can show you the effects of My presence and the trail of goodness I leave behind” (see 33:21-23).
“While my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock . . . until I have passed by” (33:22, my emphasis).
God told Moses this to protect him. This verse tells us everything about God’s amazing grace in the Old Testament. Even before the cross — before Christ shed His blood for our salvation — God hid Moses in His grace, in the crevice of a rock. As Paul explains, “That Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).
GOD’S TRANSFORMING GLORY
Scripture says Moses’ face was transformed by God’s glory — a change so powerful he had to “put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome” (2 Corinthians 3:13).
Anyone who encounters Jesus experiences the same transformation — a change so profound the whole world sees it and is awed.