“Please show me your glory”
The Exodus account of Moses’ prayer is mysterious and beautiful (Ex 33:12-23). Apparent contradictions deepen the mystery. We’ve learned that “the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (:11). Yet God says, “no one shall see me and live” (:20). God earlier pronounced, “I will not go up among you, or I would consume you” (:3). It is for their own good, an idolatrous people (remember the golden calf, 32:1ff) would be “consumed” by a holy God (:3c). Yet Moses prevails! The Lord changes his mind and agrees to accompany them (:17).
Moses asked to see God’s glory. However, it is not what is seen that is glorious but, rather, what is heard: God’s name. God’s character, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (34:6).
What mystery! God is holy (“a consuming fire”, c.f. Heb. 12:29). God is love (“abounding in steadfast love”). In Jesus we are offered more of God’s glory than Moses experienced. How “stiff-necked” we can be! So often careless in God’s holy presence. So often unmoved by God’s love.