Exodus 33:21
And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on a rock:
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(21) There is a place by me.—A place on the summit of Sinai, where God had been manifesting Himself, is clearly intended; but it is impossible to fix the place with any certainty. Speculations like those of Dr. Robinson (Biblical Researches, Vol. 1, p. 153) are of little value.

Exodus 33:21. Behold, there is a place by me — Probably meant of some part of mount Horeb, where Moses had long enjoyed intercourse with God, and from which the tabernacle, where the cloud of glory now appeared, was at no great distance. And thou shalt stand upon a rock — If not that from which the water was miraculously brought, yet certainly one which, like it, was emblematical of Christ, (1 Corinthians 10:4,) through whom alone we can have the knowledge of the glory of God. For this glory none can see to their comfort but those that believe, confide, and take shelter in him. While my glory passeth by, I will put thee in a cleft of the rock — As the rock might limit Moses’s view of the divine glory, that he might not be overwhelmed by it; so the refulgent rays of the glory of God are limited and concealed by the humanity of Christ, and by faith we are hid in him, and secured from the effects of the glorious justice and wrath of God, which would otherwise consume us. I will cover thee with my hand while I pass by — My invisible power shall spread a cloud before thee, that thou mayest not be overpowered and struck dead by the excessive glory, and so be undone by thy own desires.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.Such passages as this, being clearly in accordance with what we know of the relation of spiritual existence to the human senses, show how we are to interpret the expressions "face to face" Exodus 33:11; Deuteronomy 34:10, "mouth to mouth" Numbers 12:8, and others of the like kind. See Exodus 24:10; Isaiah 6:1; and compare John 14:9. 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. There is a place by me, in this mountain where my residence and glorious presence now is, and in that part of it whence my voice now cometh to thine ears. And the Lord said, behold, there is a place by me,.... Near him, not in or by the tabernacle, where it may be the pillar of cloud now was, as it had been, Exodus 33:9 but upon the rock, where it had been for many days, and near to which there was a fit place for Moses to be in, and have that view of the goodness and glory of God he would favour him with:

and thou shall stand upon a rock; in Horeb, typical of Christ the rock, the rock of Israel, and the rock of ages, the rock of refuge, salvation, and strength; comparable to one for shelter, solidity, firmness, strength, and duration; and happy are they who stand upon this rock; they are safe and secure, they stand on high, and have noble prospects of the perfections of God, and of the riches of his grace and goodness, see Psalm 50:2.

And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by {m} me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

(m) In mount Horeb.

21. stand] better, station thyself: cf. Exodus 34:2.

21–23. Jehovah accordingly bids Moses stand where he may see, as He passes by, not His full glory, but only His back, or hinder parts (Exodus 26:12 Heb.), i.e., so to say, only the afterglow, which He leaves behind Him, but which may still suggest faintly what the full brilliancy of His presence must be (cf. Job 26:14).Verse 21. - Behold, there is a place by me. No sufficient indication is given by these words, or by any other words in Scripture, of the exact locality of the manifestation to Moses. The so-called" traditions "are worthless; and we can only say that the scene was probably some portion of the upper part of the Ras Sufsafeh. 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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