About Jesus      Steve Sweetman

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ch. 33:7-11    ch. 33:12-23      

The Tent Of Meeting (ch. 33:7 - 11)


This section of Exodus simply states the routine that  Moses regularly did.  He had built a tent and pitched it just outside of the camp.  He called this "the tent of meeting" because he would meet with the Lord God there, as two friends would meet.  While in the tent, the cloud of glory would stand by its door and all the people would stand around and watch.  This tent was actually a precursor of the tabernacle that we will see built in the next few chapters. 


This is quite an amazing thing.  We see how important of a man Moses is.  Even Abraham did not get such attention from God.  God and Moses met as if they were friends.  We see Moses on the  mountain with Jesus in the transfiguration.  Moses' ministry does not seem to be over once he passed away.  Some people believe that he is one of the two prophets of God seen in the book of Revelation.  I'm not sure what to believe concerning these two men, but I can certainly understand how Moses might be one of them.


Moses And The Glory Of The Lord (ch. 33:12 - 23)


This section concerns one of the times that God and Moses met as friends.  Some people wonder how Moses could be so bold when it comes to his conversations with God.  I believe he was bold because God allowed him to have a special friendship relationship with him.   


In verses 12 through 14 Moses presents a couple of concerns to God.  He is wondering who will help him lead the people into the land of Canaan. 


The more important concern, at least in my thinking, is what Moses expresses in verse 13. He says, "teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you."   What a request to ask God.  If we could have the same heart felt desire as Moses had, we'd be in much better spiritual shape.  These words are worth meditating on.  What we need to ask is that Jesus will help us have this desire in the first place.


In verse 15 Moses says to God, "if your presence does not go with us, do not send us from here."   Moses knew how important the presence of God was. He did not feel that he or his people could go anywhere without the presence of God.  How true that is.  Way to often as Christians we do things, go places, and the presence of God is not with us, because what we do and where we go is not God's will.


Verse 16 is amazing.  Moses states a real truth of Scripture.  He asks God if He does not go with Israel, how will the rest of the world know that you are pleased with us, and how will Israel be distinctively different than the rest of the world.  This is one major point the church needs to understand today.  Unless the presence of God is with us, with the church, then the church cannot be distinguished from any other group in the world.  This is one of the most fundamental problems in the church today.  We look no different than any other group of people because we have lost the presence of God in our midst.  All that we do when we find ourselves in this place is useless.


God's people need to be distinct from the rest of the world and this distinction comes with the Holy Spirit being in us and among us.  The distinction should not be  a legalistic distinction as it has been in the past.  For example, the clothes we wear should not be the distinguishing factor.  Some churches for example have a certain dress code.  You might even call it their uniform.  Well, many secular groups have uniforms too.  Clothes are not the distinguishing factor.  The way we lives should distinguish us from the world combined with the Holy Spirit within us.      


In verse 17 we see Moses influencing God again.  God says that He will in fact go with Israel.  Again some people say God changed His mind here.  Why does God apparently change His mind, and I say apparently?  I'm not convinced that God has changed His mind, although certainly on the surface it looks like He has.  If He has changed His mind, He states the reason in this verse.  It is because God knows Moses by name.  What does that mean?  I believe God knows all of our names, so there has got to be more to this that what meets the eye.  Knowing Moses by name suggests to me the special friendship that God and Moses had.  Because of this friendship, God would receive input from Moses.  There are not many men in history that had such a friendship with God.  This is one big reason why most Bible teachers believe that Moses is a type of Jesus, that Moses is in fact prophetic himself.  The life of Moses came into existence for many reasons, not the least of which was simply to show us who Jesus is. 


We often speak of prophecy as found in the prophetic books of the Bible, but there is more to prophecy than simply "thus says the Lord."  Events in history can be just as prophetic as the book of Isaiah.  Here we have a person and his life as being prophetic of Jesus.  Jesus in one sense of the word is a friend of God and can give God His Father input into decision making just as Moses did here. The prophetic aspect to the life of Moses is what really is behind Moses influencing God.


Beyond trying to figure out if God changed His mind or not, I think the important thing to note here is that this is the answer to Moses' intercessory prayer.  Moses interceded on the behalf of Israel.  Even though he was just as upset with Israel as God was, Israel was still God's people and his heart ached fro them.  His heart also ached for God Himself, and how He would be perceived in the eyes of the world.   


In verse 18 Moses then says to God, "now show me your glory."  This is prophetic.  Jesus said the same thing in John 17.  John 17 is the famous prayer of Jesus where Jesus speaks of the glory of God and Himself being glorified with God's glory.


In verse 19 God tells Moses that all His goodness will pass before him.  God also said that "I will proclaim my name, the Lord in your presence."  That is Yahweh.  Now there is a picture of God's people when God is pleased with them.  The same can be true with the church today.  We need some men like Moses to intercede on behalf of the church.  We often intercede on the behalf of our nations, but I believe it is more important to intercede on the behalf of the church, because we represent Jesus, His Kingdom, and His truth to the nations.  Unless we have Yahweh's name glorified in our midst, we can't represent Jesus to the nations as we should.   Our nations would be in much better shape if the church was in better shape because we could lead people to Jesus and as a result, our nations would be better off.


God also says that He will have mercy and compassion on whoever He decides to show mercy and compassion to.  Paul, in Romans 9 through 11 speaks of Israel, their past, present, and future.  Paul quotes this verse  in Romans 9:15 to make the point that salvation is not a matter of our choice, or our good works, but of God alone and His mercy.  God was showing mercy to Israel in this situation, even though they did not deserve it, making Paul's exact point.


In verse 20 God tells Moses that He cannot see His face or else he would die.  Jesus, in John 1:18 states that no one has ever seen God except, God, His Son, meaning, Jesus.  So all these times that God and Moses conversed, Moses never saw God as He really is. What was the case when God and Moses met, Moses did not see God, He only saw the cloud of glory.


In verses 21 to 23 God says that Moses could stand in a special place, between the rocks, so when God passed by Moses he could not see His face, only His back.  A lot has been said about this verse.  Does God have a back?  Does God have a body?  God can, and has, appeared to man in many forms.  He's appeared to men in the form of a person.  This is called an "anthropomorphic" appearance of God. This might be what God is speaking of here.  God is Spirit.  Jesus Himself says that in John 4:24.  Does a spirit have a back?  I'm not sure a spirit has a back.

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