Exodus 33:18
And he said, I beseech you, show me your glory.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
MOSES’ REQUEST TO SEE GOD’S GLORY, AND GOD’S REPLY TO IT.

(18-23) Not till he had received full assurance of the people’s restoration to favour did Moses prefer any request for himself. Then, however, he made use of the privilege granted him to speak with God, “as a man speaketh unto his friend,” in order to obtain a blessing for which his spiritual nature craved, and than which he could conceive nothing more desirable. “Shew me,” he said, “I beseech thee, thy glory.” All that he had yet seen of God was insufficient—only raised his desire, only sharpened his appetite to see more. He craved for that “beatific vision” which is the final reward of them that are perfected in another world. God could not grant his request in full, for it is impossible so long as we are in the flesh that we should look on God and live. “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18). But He granted all that could be granted. He made “all his goodness pass before” Moses; He gave him a fresh revelation of His name (Exodus 34:6-7); and He even let him see some actual portion of His “glory”—as much as mortal man could possibly behold—more than any son of man had ever beheld before—more, probably, than any other son of man will ever behold until the consummation of all things (Exodus 33:22-23).

Exodus 33:18. I beseech thee, show me thy glory — Thy glorious majesty, the brightness of thy countenance, some such manifestation of thyself as becomes thy excellence, and such as shall be seen in the other life, or the highest I am capable of seeing on earth. Moses had lately been in the mount with God, and had had as intimate communion with God as ever any man had on this side heaven, and yet he still desires a further acquaintance. Show me thy glory — Make me to see it; so the word is: make it some way or other visible, and enable me to bear the sight of it. Not that he was so ignorant as to think God’s essence could be seen with bodily eyes, but having hitherto only heard a voice out of a pillar of cloud or fire, he desired to see some representation of the divine glory, such as God saw fit to gratify him with.33:12-23 Moses is very earnest with God. Thus, by the intercession of Christ, we are not only saved from ruin, but become entitled to everlasting happiness. Observe here how he pleads. We find grace in God's sight, if we find grace in our hearts to guide and quicken us in the way of our duty. Moses speaks as one who dreaded the thought of going forward without the Lord's presence. God's gracious promises, and mercy towards us, should not only encourage our faith, but also excite our fervency in prayer. Observe how he speeds. See, in a type, Christ's intercession, which he ever lives to make for all that come to God by him; and that it is not by any thing in those for whom he intercedes. Moses then entreats a sight of God's glory, and is heard in that also. A full discovery of the glory of God, would overwhelm even Moses himself. Man is mean, and unworthy of it; weak, and could not bear it; guilty, and could not but dread it. The merciful display which is made in Christ Jesus, alone can be borne by us. The Lord granted that which would abundantly satisfy. God's goodness is his glory; and he will have us to know him by the glory of his mercy, more than by the glory of his majesty. Upon the rock there was a fit place for Moses to view the goodness and glory of God. The rock in Horeb was typical of Christ the Rock; the Rock of refuge, salvation, and strength. Happy are they who stand upon this Rock. The cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as smitten, crucified, wounded, and slain. What follows, denotes the imperfect knowledge of God in the present state, even as revealed in Christ; for this, when compared with the heavenly sight of him. is but like seeing a man that is gone by, whose back only is to be seen. God in Christ, as he is, even the fullest and brightest displays of his glory, grace, and goodness, are reserved to another state.Shew me thy glory - The faithful servant of Yahweh, now assured by the success of his mediation, yearns, with the proper tendency of a devout spirit, for a more intimate communion with his divine Master than he had yet enjoyed. He seeks for something surpassing all former revelations. 18-23. I beseech thee, show me thy glory—This is one of the most mysterious scenes described in the Bible: he had, for his comfort and encouragement, a splendid and full display of the divine majesty, not in its unveiled effulgence, but as far as the weakness of humanity would admit. The face, hand, back parts, are to be understood figuratively. i.e. Thy glorious majesty, the brightness of thy countenance, some such manifestation of thyself as becomes thy excellency, and such as shall be seen in the other life; or that glorious shape which, together with a human voice, thou hast now assumed. But for the essence of God, as that was and is and ever will be invisible to bodily eyes, 1 Timothy 6:16, so a man of such great reason and deep knowledge in Divine things, and universal learning, could not be ignorant of it, and therefore would not desire it. And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. Not any visible lustre, splendour, and brightness, as a symbol of the divine Presence, that he had seen, Exodus 16:7 nor the glorious essence of God, as Maimonides (b), which is invisible and cannot be seen, and of which Moses could not be ignorant; nor the glory of the heavenly state, which also he must know he could not see until he came thither; but he seems to mean some visible glorious representation of God, such as he had never seen, though he had been with him so long on the mount in the cloud, and heard his voice, and saw some appearances of brightness and glory, yet not in any form that he could frame any idea of; perhaps he may mean the Angel of God's presence, called his face, the promised Messiah and glorious Redeemer and Saviour, in whom there is such a bright display of the glory of the divine perfections; yea, is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; and this favour was granted him, with some proper limitations and restrictions; for though this request was, no doubt, sincere and upright, it might be attended with frailty and weakness; yet it is not utterly denied, but with some explanation is allowed, and perhaps was the highest favour ever granted to any before the incarnation of our Lord, at least in so full and glorious a manner as this was; Moses having by his suit obtained much, wants more and is emboldened to ask it, and in a good measure had it, as the following words show.

(b) Yesude Hatorah, c. 1. sect. 10.

And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy {g} glory.

(g) Your face, your substance, and your majesty.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. Shew me] Here, as a modern English reader would expect, ‘make me to see,’ not as in v. 13, ‘make me to know.’

thy glory] Thy full majesty.

18–23. Moses repeats, in a more definite form, his request of v. 13. He asks to be allowed to see Jehovah’s glory; but is told in reply that he cannot see this in its fulness (v. 20); he may, however, have a glimpse of it, sufficient to disclose to him God’s moral nature.Verses 18-23. - THE REQUEST TO SEE GOD'S GLORY, AND THE REPLY TO IT. Having obtained the full restoration of the people to God's favour, Moses felt emboldened to ask a boon for himself. He had already been admitted to closer communion with God than any one of the race of man since Adam in Paradise. But what had been granted him, instead of satisfying, only made him desirous of something further, something closer, something than which nothing more close could be imagined. So he asks to see the unveiled glory of God (ver. 18). He asks, that is, to see exactly that which man in the flesh cannot see, or at any rate cannot see and live. But, of course, he does not know this. God, in reply, tells him he shall see all that can be seen of him - more than anything which he has seen before. He shall see "all his goodness" - he shall have another revelation of the name of God (ver. 18); and, further, he shall be so placed as to see as much as mortal man can behold of "his glory" - God will pass by him, and when he has passed, Moses shall be allowed to look after him, and see what is here called "his back." This was probably some afterglow or reflection from the Divine glory, which language must have been as inadequate to describe as it was to embody the "unspeakable words" heard by St. Paul in the "third heaven," and declared by him "impossible for a man to utter" (2 Corinthians 12:4). Verse 18. - Show me thy glory. The glory of God had been seen by Moses to a certain extent, when God "descended in fire" upon Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18). It had been seen with more distinctness when he was called up and "went into the midst of the cloud" (Exodus 24:18). But he felt, nevertheless, that he had not as vet really beheld it. He longed for that ineffable blessing of the full "beatific vision," which is promised to us after death, if we die in the faith and fear of Christ (1 Corinthians 13:12). "Increase of appetite doth grow by what it feeds on" - and the veiled splendours that he had been allowed to see only made him hunger the more for the unveiled radiance that he had not seen as vet. Jehovah had commanded Moses to lead the people to Canaan, and promised him the guidance of an angel; but He had expressly distinguished this angel from His own personal presence (Exodus 33:1-3). Moreover, though it has not been mentioned before, Jehovah had said to Moses, "I have known thee by name," - i.e., I have recognised thee as Mine, and chosen and called thee to execute My will (cf. Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 49:1), or put thee into "a specifically personal relation to God, which was peculiar to Moses, and therefore was associated with his name" (Oehler); - "and thou hast also found grace in My eyes," inasmuch as God had granted a hearing to his former intercession. Moses now reminded the Lord of this divine assurance with such courage as can only be produced by faith, which wrestles with God and will not let Him go without a blessing (Genesis 32:27); and upon the strength of this he presented the petition (Exodus 33:13), "Let me know Thy way (the way which Thou wilt take with me and with this people), that I may know Thee, in order that I may find grace in Thine eyes, and see that this people is Thy people." The meaning is this: If I have found grace in Thy sight, and Thou hast recognised me as Thy servant, and called me to be the leader of this people, do not leave me in uncertainty as to Thine intentions concerning the people, or as to the angel whom Thou wilt give as a guide to me and the nation, that I may know Thee, that is to say, that my finding grace in Thine eyes may become a reality;

(Note: Domine fac ut verbis tuis respondeat eventus. Calvin.)

and if Thou wilt lead the people up to Canaan, consider that it is Thine own people, to whom Thou must acknowledge Thyself as its God. Such boldness of undoubting faith presses to the heart of God, and brings away the blessing. Jehovah replied (Exodus 33:14), "My face will go, and I shall give thee rest," - that is to say, shall bring thee and all this people into the land, where ye will find rest (Deuteronomy 3:20). The "face" of Jehovah is Jehovah in His own personal presence, and is identical with the "angel" in whom the name of Jehovah was (Exodus 23:20-21), and who is therefore called in Isaiah 63:9 "the angel of His face."

With this assurance on the part of God, the covenant bond was completely restored. But to make more sure of it. Moses replied (Exodus 33:15, Exodus 33:16), "If Thy face is not going (with us), lead us not up hence. And whereby shall it be known that I have found grace in thine eyes, I and Thy people, if not (lit., is it not known) in Thy going with us, that we, I and Thy people, are distinguished (see at Exodus 8:18) before every nation upon the face of the earth?" These words do not express any doubt as to the truth of the divine assurance, "but a certain feeling of the insufficiency of the assurance," inasmuch as even with the restoration of the former condition of things there still remained "the fear lest the evil root of the people's rebellion, which had once manifested itself, should bread forth again at any moment" (Baumgarten). For this reason Jehovah assured him that this request also should be granted (Exodus 33:17). "There was nothing extraordinary in the fact that Moses desired for himself and his people that they might be distinguished before every nation upon the face of the earth; this was merely the firm hold of faith upon the calling and election of God (Exodus 19:5-6)."

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