This is a guest post by Philip Graham Ryken, a contributor to the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible.
This Passing Glory
In Exodus 33:12-23 Moses approached God with two of the most audacious demands that any man has ever made: “Please show me now your ways” (Ex. 33:13) and “Please show me your glory” (v. 18).
In order to lead people effectively, Moses needed to know the mind of God. He didn’t want God simply to send down orders; he wanted to know the purpose behind God’s plans. To that end, Moses wanted to remain in constant communication with his Maker. This was essential to his leadership as a man of God.
Intimate Knowledge of God
Any man who seeks God’s calling should pray the way Moses prayed. We should ask God to give us intimate knowledge of him. The things we do will be successful only if God is in them. Whenever we do something that God has called us to do—whether it is serving in our singleness, learning how to be married, working at a job, or getting involved in ministry—we need to pray that God will show us his way to go about things.
Moses also wanted something more: he wanted to see God’s glory. This request was not as imperious as most translations make it sound. In the original Hebrew it comes across more like an entreaty; Moses was saying “Please . . . ” Still, it was an audacious request. The prophet was asking to see the splendor and radiance of God.
Mercifully, God did not show Moses the full brightness of his divine glory, because this would have been fatal (see v. 20). But God did consent to show Moses his goodness. In order to protect his prophet from deadly exposure to his radiant glory, God made special arrangements. He put Moses in a cleft in the rock and covered him with his hand until his glory had passed by. Then Moses saw the contrails of God’s glory—the luminous clouds that streamed from his divine being. Although the prophet was not allowed to look God in the face, he was able to catch a fleeting glimpse of the hindquarters of his glory.
Someday we will get to see what Moses wanted to see: the glory of God. We will look Jesus right in the face and will not be destroyed but will be filled with glorious joy. In the heart of every man there is a yearning—yet unsatisfied—to see this promise fulfilled. We know that there is more for us to see, and so we long to gaze upon the beautiful face of Jesus Christ.
Philip Graham Ryken (DPhil, University of Oxford) is the eighth president of Wheaton College. Formerly, he served as senior minister of Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He has written or edited more than 40 books, including the popular title Loving the Way Jesus Loves, and has lectured and preached at universities and seminaries worldwide.
*This post is from Crossway and can be found here.