The Gospel According to Moses
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READINGS BY KIM HARRINGTON
WeekXXIV: Show Me Your Glory!
Day 162: Moses’ Three Requests
Then Moses said to the Lord, "See, Thou dost say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’...Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found favor in Thy sight, let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight..."
Perhaps nothing reveals the heart of Moses, the man of God, more than the exchange between him and the Lord in the last twelve verses of Exodus 33. He has just finished with the golden calf episode, and he’s talking to God about the Israelites and his own calling and capabilities. He wants some additional help, and he wants some confirmation from the Lord. He makes three requests that must have deeply touched the Lord’s heart.
"Let me know Thy ways," (vs.13). In other words, "if I’m going to serve You, I need to know more about what pleases you and what doesn’t—I want to do my best, I don’t want to accidentally do something that irritates you." This is just the opposite spirit from those who are content to be "saved" and just leave it at that. They want to know, "how far can I go and still be saved? just where would I cross the line?" Their concern is selfish, and they generally end up clinging to some kind of eternal security doctrine. Not so Moses. His heart throbbed to know more of God so He could please Him more. Like Paul he cried out, "That I might know Him."
"If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here," (vs.15). "I’m not going without you, Lord... I’m doing this for You and You alone, and I’m doing it with You or I’m not doing it at all." He didn’t want to just be released to go out and do the Lord’s work, to pick and choose his own methods, take a handsome salary, and run the show by himself. He knew you can’t do the Lord’s work that way. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." This was to be a relationship, not a business partnership. Moses wanted to insure God’s presence, guidance, and blessing on the venture from the start to the finish.
Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!" This man of God was not content to serve God from a distance at all. He had already been closer to God than anyone before him, but he wanted more. He wasn’t a thrill-seeker; he didn’t just want to go up to the altar in order to be "slain in the Spirit" and have another supernatural experience. He wanted more of God. He wanted to be changed "from glory to glory." He couldn’t get enough of the Lord. He had prayed day and night; he’d perched on the side of a mountain fasting for forty days, and was about to go up there again. He wanted God! Nothing else mattered. He knew that a glimpse of that glory could blind him for life, or even blast him to smithereens, but he was willing to risk it.
This is not a common spirit today, or in any age, but there are a few who share it. The Apostle Paul sounds just like Moses in many of his statements in the epistles (we’ve quoted a couple of them). I think of Patrick, St. Francis, A.W. Tozer, and some of the early fathers of the Pentecostal movement like William Seymour. God honors those men and women who hunger and thirst for more of Himself. "Blessed are they...for they shall be satisfied," (Matthew 5:6).
Day 163: Seeing God
Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!" And [the Lord] said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you...But, He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"
John makes a fairly radical statement in the first chapter of his gospel account of Jesus Christ: "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him," (John 1:18).
Jehovah points out to Moses here in Exodus 33 that it’s impossible to see God and live. He’s too glorious to be taken in by earthbound eyes. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. Heaven is too unearthly—we couldn’t survive in earthy bodies—the air is different, there may not be gravity or atmospheric pressure as we know it. The glory of God is brighter than any sun or star and would sizzle us into nothingness in a millisecond if we got within a few million miles. That’s why anything that is not born of the Spirit will be burned up at the judgment seat of Christ—just seeing Him in His glory is judgment!
What did Moses see then? The Lord hid him in the cleft of a rock, covered him with His hand, and passed before him, lifting His hand just enough at the end for Moses to glimpse His backside. Well, verse 19 says he saw the Lord’s "goodness" passing before him, and verse 22 says it was His "glory." It wasn’t God Himself, but a manifestation. It wasn’t a full manifestation, for that, too, would have melted Moses on the spot, and probably the whole world, for that matter. Moses glimpsed, with squinted eyes and unveiled face, the backside of a small representation of God’s goodness and glory.
Moses didn’t see the Father, either. Go back to John—no man has seen God at any time...the Son explains or reveals Him. Later on in John, Jesus refers to Himself as the God of Moses and Abraham: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." He said that on purpose to identify Himself as the voice in the burning bush, and the presence in the Shekinah glory. The Jews understood what He referred to, and tried to stone Him on the spot for blasphemy.
So it was the Son that Moses spoke to in the bush and the cloud. It was the Son who appeared to Abraham on the plains of Mamre in the company of two angels—all of them cloaked in the semblance of human flesh, for a fully displayed angel could no doubt slay a human being, too.
The Father has yet to be seen by earthly eye. Ezekiel and John had visions, but didn’t enter the real heaven in the flesh—John himself said so. The theophanies (appearances of God) in the Old Testament were cloaked manifestations of the Son. But Moses got closer than anyone else. He got so close he got a "glory-burn," for it says in Exodus 34 that when he came down from the mount the second time his face shone with the reflected presence of the Lord. He got his wish, and he set an example for the rest of us, to strive to get closer and closer to the Lord. Who knows? your face may shine some day, too.
Day 164: Don’t Arrive Empty-Handed at God’s House
And you shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring of a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.
In Egypt the Lord had killed all the firstborn of the land, human and animal, on the Passover night. None in the camp of Israel were killed, however, because each family had daubed the blood of the Passover lamb on their homes. Therefore the Lord declared that the firstborn were rightfully His—they could have been slain along with the Egyptians, except for the blood. So the children of Israel had to buy back their firstborn from God, and that’s what the verse above refers to.
The last clause is interesting and worthy of commentary: "And none shall appear before Me empty-handed." That’s beautiful, and it applies not only to the redemption of the firstborn, but to any time that the Israelites appeared before the Lord. There’s no reason why anyone living can’t come with something in their hand for the Lord. He has given us all we have—the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the roof over our heads—and He wants us to show our appreciation by giving Him tithes and offerings. If you’re invited over to dinner you usually bring a little something with you: candy, flowers, dessert, something—shouldn’t you do at least as well when you come to the house of God?
Every Israelite gave a tenth of the produce of their land—their income—to the Lord. In addition, they offered various sacrifices at different times of the year, gave special offerings for the maintenance of the temple, and other offerings and temple taxes. God said, "Don’t ever come before Me empty-handed; I’ve provided for you and I know you have something; you can bring something when you come to worship."
Jesus watched an impoverished widow give pennies into the temple treasury. She didn’t have much, but she had enough for God. I’ve noticed many people who don’t have much, but they have enough to get their kids the right kind of shoes, or a certain kind of jacket that’s currently in style. No matter how poor someone is, you can bet they still buy cigarettes if they’re smokers—priorities are priorities. Mom still gets her hair done, and there’s still enough for an occasional pizza, or some other thing that they just have to splurge a little bit to get—but many of the same people don’t seem to have enough for God.
If you’re still alive, you’ve got something to bring to the house of the Lord. He has provided for you, or you’d be dead. If you have anything at all, it’s by the grace of God, and you have something to give God. You may have a lot or a little, but you have something. "None shall appear before the Lord empty-handed."
Day 165: Stone Tablets and Bad Tempers
So [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
Moses undertook the greatest fast in history—first he went forty days without food or water, then he went another forty. There may or may not have been a few days in between when he ate something. Now forty days without food is possible, but a human can only live a few days without water—Moses had supernatural assistance in what was likely eighty days without food or water. And he received one of the great revelations of all time.
There was a downside, however, because of his temper. It wasn’t the first time his temper had hurt him and it wouldn’t be the last. This beautiful, humble man of God allowed himself to get in the flesh when he was aroused in the Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit within him that was grieved when he saw the Egyptian beating an Israelite; but it was his flesh that got so enraged that he actually killed the Egyptian and buried him nearby.
Likewise in the incident of the golden calf, it was the Holy Spirit within him that was outraged at the sight of an idol and the people of Israel dancing before it. But it was the flesh—unrestrained wrath—that caused him to throw the tablets to the ground and break them. Break the idol? Yes, Moses, by all means. But break the tablets of the Law? God forbid! They were precious beyond compare, and could not be replaced. They were lost forever.
Someone might say, isn’t that what he went back up on the Mount for? to get another set of tablets? Didn’t he come back down with exact duplicates? Well, yes and no. The first tablets were written, not by Moses, but by the finger of God Himself (see Ex 31:18, 32:16). But God would not pick up after Moses; He would not replace the tablets that had been so rudely thrown on the ground. The second set He commanded Moses to transcribe for himself, as we see from our text. Moses cut out the stones, and Moses wrote the Ten Commandments on them. He came down from the Mount, not with an original Yahweh document, but with a Moses’ copy.
He lost out because of his temper. And all Israel lost out. The stones in the ark of the covenant were intended to be in God’s own writing—imagine it! Do a handwriting analysis on that one! But no one except Moses and Joshua ever saw the original. It was shattered in a thousand pieces at the foot of Mt. Sinai. The one put inside the ark was a copy. If you have a temper, start controlling it right away before you, like Moses, lose something that is truly irreplaceable.
Day 166: Moses’ Shining Face
Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with him.
Moses got so close to the Lord, both on the Mount and in the tent of meeting, that he actually started to reflect the glory of the Lord in his face. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, the Bible says, and Moses started having light on his face just like God. So he decided to put a veil over his face when he was out in public, so the children of Israel wouldn’t see how it glowed.
It wasn’t that he wanted to keep the knowledge of the Lord to himself—he spent his whole life trying to share that knowledge; and it wasn’t that his face was too bright to look at—for the people had seen it when he came down from the Mount, before he knew that it shined. It was because they were afraid of his shining face: "So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him," (vs.30).
We’ve already seen, back when God gave the Ten Commandments in chapter twenty, that the children of Israel opted to keep the Lord at a distance; they didn’t want a close relationship with such a fearsome individual; they knew they couldn’t live up to a true commitment to a personal God, so they chose to deal with Him through middlemen. Now Aaron was the kind of middleman they liked: powerful, respectable, and human enough to relate to, yet someone who blew it frequently, one of the boys. But Moses?! He was getting as scary as God himself—he was even starting to look like Him!
Paul gives a good commentary on these verses in 2 Corinthians chapter three. Whenever people still choose the middleman process, whenever they choose Moses and a priestly system, they erect a veil between themselves and God. But when someone turns to God, as Moses did daily when he went to the tent of meeting, the veil is taken away, even as Moses took his veil off when he prayed and worshipped before the Lord. When the veil is taken away you get to see God and know Him personally, and start to become changed into His image from glory to glory. Far from being blinded by His brightness, you finally see clearly; the veil is taken off of your heart.
That’s true religion. That’s what Christianity is all about. That’s what God wanted to do with the Israelites, but they said no. Many believers continue to make that same decision right down to this day. They can accept the Lord just fine as long as He keeps His distance; and they can flow with a good-old-boy priest or pastor that doesn’t remind them of the awesomeness of the Lord, but keep those holy-roller types away, please...they make a man nervous...they shine like God, and remind the careless and carnal that this whole God and Jesus thing is real and supernatural, not just a little game we play in church. The Moseses of this world will always make the carnal believers, and even the Aarons—the carnal preachers—uncomfortable. They’re too much like God!
Day 167: The Offering Pitch
And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, "This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying, ‘Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord’s contribution...’"
When I first entered the full-time ministry in 1976, I determined in my heart that I wouldn’t be one of those preachers who was always asking for money, but rather, that I’d be like George Mueller of Bristol—I’d make my needs and the ministry’s needs known to God alone, and He would provide in whatever way He chose. Like many people, Christian and unbeliever, I was frustrated with what seemed like a preoccupation with money in many ministries. It wasn’t long, however, before the Lord revealed to me that He had a different opinion on this matter.
God showed me that asking for money is not wrong or unspiritual. Biblical heroes did it all the time: Moses, David, Josiah, Ezra, Malachi, and Paul come immediately to mind, and there are many others. Jesus Himself taught much on giving, more than anybody else in the Scriptures, in fact. The biblical pattern is neither a pseudo-spiritual silence on the "dirty" subject of money, or the begging and pleading and threatening that we’ve come to expect from radio and television preachers these days. In the Bible, honest men of God stood before God’s people publicly and made genuine needs known. There was no high-pressure salesmanship, but there was no avoiding of the subject, either. And honest God-fearing people responded and the need was met.
That’s the only responsible way to meet the needs of a ministry—the people who are benefited by that ministry ought to pitch in and pay for it. The local church should support the local church. The people who benefit by an evangelist’s ministry should support it, the people who listen to a radio program should pay for it, and so on. This is the responsible way; this is the biblical way. Ministers shouldn’t feel the need to beg, borrow, or resort to fund-raising schemes and gimmicks.
The Lord also showed me a few things about George Mueller. His was among the first independent "faith ministries," or ministries that were not underwritten by a denomination—the main point concerning him is that he didn’t ask for denominational support; that was an amazing thing in those days, but is common today. He did, however, send out a newsletter in which he reminded people through testimonies that this faith mission needed support, even though he never asked for it. I get a prominent newsletter every month where the minister’s big boast is that his ministry is doing great things without asking for money or going into debt. But he mentions in money every letter, saying thanks to the thousands that support him, and he keeps that newsletter coming, eighteen times a year, keeping his ministry’s needs before the supporters all the time. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing particularly spiritual about it either (though it’s certainly less offensive than the hard-sell guys)—and there’s nothing wrong with the pastor or evangelist that just makes the needs known in a little different way. Honest men making genuine needs known, and honest godly people responding—that’s the biblical pattern.
Day 168: Every Minister’s Dream
And they said to Moses, "The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform." So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, "Let neither man nor woman perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary." Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more.
I call this lesson, "Every Minister’s Dream." Moses had to send word to restrain the people from giving any more—there was just too much! I’ve never known a minister in my life that got more money than he could use! A big bank account—or how to invest the excess—is just not one of the problems that most ministries have to face. There are three reasons for this...
1. If we’re walking presently and actively with the Lord, He will lead us along the "faith" way. He will lead us into steps of faith that are always a bit too big for us, like the brother who was flying over a 10,000 foot mountain range in a plane with a 9000 foot ceiling. The Lord will keep us looking to Him. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you’re in a place of financial abundance, perhaps you’re not obeying the Lord in stepping out into every area of ministry and giving that He wants you to.
2. The needs of world evangelism are tremendous, and the relatively small remnant of believers will never have enough money to fund all of the outreaches necessary to reach the world. I know of places where money invested will certainly result in souls for the kingdom. With missions-minded people there is always a need someplace. Our own ministry in North India can expand and reach people just as fast as the money comes in: that many more workers can be sent into unreached village areas, that many more students can be taken into our Bible school, that much more literature can be printed, etc. One missionary used to say he could save a soul for every dollar—even today that’s not so unreasonable in some ministries.
3. God’s people are not faithful to give as they should. Many pastors of Spirit-filled congregations have less than 50% of their people tithing, and even the best aren’t too much higher than 70%. That’s just tithing—which doesn’t even cover the expenses of the local church. Freewill offerings, like the one Moses took in our text, are needed to really do a church justice, and more yet to support missions. It’s no wonder so many pastors have so little world vision—they couldn’t do anything about it if they did. God’s people have to quit being so selfish, cut back on their own expenses a bit, reduce the luxury level, and start seeking first the kingdom of God. We’re in a war, and our front-line troops are hurting for lack of support—it’s high time to tighten our belt and determine to give two or three times as much as our present level! Wouldn’t it be exciting to hear your pastor say, "We’re just getting too much money around here...why don’t you send some more into missions or something..."
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Version unless marked otherwise.
Copyright © 2005 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.