Monday: Exodus 33:1-7
On Mount Sinai, Moses had received the plans for the Tabernacle. This traveling tent structure would be placed within the midst of the twelve tribes from location to location until they had reached the Promised Land.
It is as we saw before: The Dwelling Place of God in the midst of His people.
The tabernacle points to Christ. John said:
From the beginning of creation, God has desired to live in friendship with His people. From the fall in the garden and forward to Moses in the wilderness His people have desired something or someone else. Don't ever think that God doesn't feel what a broken heart feels like. Genesis 6:6, Jeremiah 8:18-19, Ephesians 4:30
Even as Moses was receiving the plans for the tabernacle on the mountain, the people below were worshipping before the golden calf they had made. Now we see that God cannot dwell with this stiff-necked people.
"I will not go up in your midst." Exodus 33:3
He will send his Angel, which is Christ, to go before them, but He will not dwell in their midst as He had planned. It would be too dangerous for them. His holiness could not abide within their ranks because He might consume them in a moment.
It is clear from the Lord's words, "I will not go up in your midst", that the tabernacle will now no longer be needed.
That means: no sacrifice--which is Christ. No intercession of the High Priest, which also is Christ. There will be no ark, which means there will be no mercy seat; and without mercy, judgment triumphs. James 2:13
This is what a sin hangover looks like.The sweetness of sin is ever so brief but the bitterness of the aftermath is painfully enduring.
See the people take off their ornaments. They have been stripped down to who they really are. True beauty is not found in gold baubles and trinkets. Showy garments and shallow laughter cannot masquerade fallen hearts for long. Incorruptible beauty is only found in the inward parts. Yielded and humble spirits are precious and truly beautiful in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:4
If God does not turn to them in mercy and do something great for the sake of His own Name they will all perish.
Read Exodus 33:7-11
The tabernacle mentioned here is a downgraded version of what Moses was given on the mountain. Moses pitches his own tent outside of the camp and not in the middle of the camp as the greater tabernacle was intended. He calls it the tabernacle of meeting, because God continues to meet with him.
It is encouraging to see that there are people who went outside of the camp to seek the Lord. Exodus 33:7
See Christ here. When Christ spoke the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, we are told that his audience was sinners. Luke 15:1 Aren't these who are coming outside of the camp to seek God like many of us lost ones who left lost places to be found? Having become parched from drinking from the dregs of sin weren't they, like us, drawn in their own hearts to seek Christ? Isn't there a silent cry found in these who are in the sorrow and aftermath of sin saying, like the prodigal son, "I will arise and go to my father."?
They do not barge in. They stand at a distance and let Moses speak for them. What a picture of the intercession of Christ for those who hope and trust in Him to save them. Hebrews 7:25
Like the woman who silently wept upon the feet of Christ, they wait upon the Lord for an assuring word of forgiveness:
“Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”” (Luke 7:48–50, NKJV)
Read Exodus 33:12-16
This is a turning point in Exodus. For Moses, God must be in the midst of his people. Why take another step if God's presence doesn’t go with them?
Let us consider for a moment, how quickly we blunder forward. Moses would rather die than take another step without God's presence. Moses asks, "Whom will you send with me?"
Moses isn’t looking for a method to go forward as many men do. He seeks a man to go with him; a man from heaven.
When the Lord says he will send His Angel in front of them. This isn't a member of the angelic host. The "Angel" bears God's name; He is God the Son.
“Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.”
(Exodus 23:21, NKJV)
The Lord would go before them, to be sure. He would drive out the Canaanites and give Israel the land according to His covenant with Abraham. But if the Lord was not in their midst, how would the God of Israel show Himself different from all of the other so-called "gods" of the pagans? Exodus 33:16 This is all about relationship not religion. We are reminded here that many throughout history have sacrificed men for their gods but only in Christianity did God die for men--and that to bring us into a reconciled relationship with Himself.
God's original desire was to dwell among his people in fellowship. He did this with Adam walking with him in the garden in the cool of the day. Genesis 3:8 This was the purpose of the plans for the Tabernacle. “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8)
Moses shares the heart of God. His intercession is: "If your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here."
As far as Moses is concerned, if the Lord is not in their midst, there is no point in going forward.
Read Exodus 33:12-23
Moses prays for two things: First, Moses wants to know the Lord. He prays, "Show me your way, that I may know you..." He wants to know the name of the Angel whom God will send with him. "You have not let me know whom You will send with me."
Men are looking for methods but Moses was looking for the Lord.
See Christ here: Thomas asked. "Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?" John 14:5 Thomas wanted to know what he had to do to go to heaven. Jesus didn't point to a what, He pointed to a who--Himself! There isn't a method or three steps to follow to get to heaven. There is a man, the Son of Man, who makes the way to go to heaven:
"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
The second prayer of Moses is to see the Lords' glory. God answers both prayers. First he proclaims His name to Moses:
“Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”” (Exodus 33:19)
“Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,” (Exodus 34:5–6)
“The Lord, the Lord God.”
"I Am That I Am" is the Name Moses heard at the burning bush. It is translated Yahweh which is translated into the word, “Lord" in Exodus 3:14. It is the same Name that God used in declaring the Ten Commandments. ““I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” (Exodus 20:2) It is the Name that Jesus used to declare Himself to his argumentative Pharisees: "Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." John 8:58
In this same encounter where the Lord declares to Moses His Name again, the glory of the Lord is shown to Moses.
“So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.” (Exodus 33:22, NKJV)
"By faith Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible." Hebrews 11:27
Moses saw the invisible Christ. How can this be? The Bible sometimes carries what skeptics call contradictions in the Bible. What the unbeliever lacks is spiritual understanding and the Holy Spirit who gives it. Ephesians 4:18, 2 Corinthians 4:4
The Bible says that Moses talked to God as one who speaks face to face. "So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend..." Exodus 33:11
In Moses encounter with the glory of God in the cleft in the rock, he is told, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”” (Exodus 33:20, NKJV)
When God spoke to Moses "face to face"as a man speaks to his friend, this is a figure of speech.
Moses as many others in the Bible have seen a limited outward form or manifestation of God but never his fullest presence.
When speaking of God's fullest, glorious and perfect presence, sinful man cannot not see Him and live.
We remember Jacob's wrestling with Christ. He both saw Him face to face figuratively but did not see Him in His fullest revelation. The sun was coming up and the Lord told him to let him go. Genesis 32:26 The Lord did not fear the dawn. The danger was to Jacob who might see Him in His fullness. And yet Jacob marveled that he had indeed had an encounter with God.
“So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”” (Genesis 32:30, NKJV)
Gods invisibility means that God's total essence, all of His spiritual being, will never be able to be seen by any of us on this side of heaven.
“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)