Moses in the Cloud - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We are following the outline of the book of Exodus as it is found in verse 13 of chapter 15:

Exodus 15

13Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

The first fifteen chapters of the book are presented under the phrase, “Thou hast led forth thy people”; these chapters describe the exodus of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. From chapters 16-24, we have God's guidance of the Israelites through the wilderness: “Thou hast guided them in thy strength.” Beginning with chapter 25 and continuing through chapter 40, we have the holy habitation; those chapters describe the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

The building of the Tabernacle is presented in two ways. First, instruction is given to Moses for its building, and then actual building is described. The Tabernacle can best be understood by comparing the instructions to build the Tabernacle and its actual building.

Between the instruction and the actual building of the Tabernacle there is a parenthetical passage of Scripture beginning with chapter 32 and continuing through chapter 34. In looking at this parenthetical passage, we found that it has to do with one of the saddest incidents in the history of the nation of Israel.

Moses Intercedes for His People

While Moses was on the mountain top receiving instruction concerning the building of the Tabernacle, the children of Israel built a golden calf around which they danced and worshiped. Word was brought to Moses on top of the mountain concerning this sin, and immediately he entered into a ministry of intercession. God challenged Moses to intercede with the words, “Let me alone that I may destroy this people and make out of thee a great nation.” Moses accepted the challenge of intercession.

This intercession was divided into three stages. We have looked at two of them; we will look at the third stage now. In order that these things may be clear in our minds, notice in chapter 32 the paragraph which begins with verse 11 and concludes with verse 14, which describes the first stage of the intercession when Moses prayed, while he was still on the mountain top, that the people might not be destroyed in the wrath of God. Notice verse 14:

Exodus 32

14And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

The Lord repented because Moses interceded in their behalf. Moses used three bases for that intercession. In the first part of verse 11, he said, in so many words, “You have done too much to back up now. You have done so much for this people, You cannot afford to forsake them now that they have entered into sin.” Then in verse 12, he said, “What will the Egyptians think if you forsake the Israelites now? If you forsake them now, the Egyptians will think that you could not deliver them, and that is why you are destroying them.” In verse 13, he presented the argument which we might say really moved the hand of God:

Exodus 32

13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

In other words, don't go back on your word.

God heard this first stage of intercession by Moses. Moses came down from the mountain; he rebuked the people for their sins; he ground up the golden calf, and the people had to drink the dust of the gold sprinkled in the water as part of the punishment for their sins. Then Moses asked everyone who was on the Lord's side to take his stand with God, and all others who refused to take their stand with God were destroyed. Three thousand of them fell that day because they chose sin rather than God.

Moses Second Intercession

Then it became necessary to intercede again. In the paragraph which begins with verse 30, Moses went into the second stage of intercession. He acknowledged before the Lord in verse 31:

Exodus 32

31And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

Yet, in the midst of it all, the love of Moses did not wax cold; and in verse 32, he asked that if these people could not be preserved, if their lives could not be preserved, that he himself might become a sacrifice, a martyr for them. He was willing to die in order that they might live. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13). But God told Moses that each individual is held responsible before the Lord for his own wrongdoing; no individual can take the place of another, humanly speaking. But Moses, being a type of our Lord Jesus Christ who took our place on the Cross, became a prophet like unto him (Deuteronomy 18:15). We find in verse 35:

Exodus 32

34Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
35And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

This means that He punished them for their disobedience, though He did not destroy them. When you study the complete history of the nation of Israel, you find that this first step into idolatry was something they regretted all their lives. It threw the door wide open for their disobedience.

Moses' Third Intercession

That brings us to chapter 33, in which we find the third stage of the intercession of Moses. I would like for you to look at a few things which I will point out to you in this portion of the Word. First, notice the grounds of this intercession. What was the real reason for it? Why did Moses feel the need of going to prayer again? Then notice the grounds upon which the intercession was made acceptable. Certain things had to be faced before God would begin to listen to the prayer of Moses, the intercessor. Then notice the thing for which Moses asked, the thing which he desired, and how God said, “No,” to that request but gave him something far better in its place:

Exodus 33

1And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:
2And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:
3Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
4And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.
5For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.
6And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.
7And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
8And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.
9And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.
10And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.
11And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
12And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
13Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.
14And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
15And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
16For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
17And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
18And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
19And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
20And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
21And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
22And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
23And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

This is chapter 33 of the book of Exodus from which we are reading, and in it we have portrayed for us the third phase of the intercession of Moses on behalf of the nation of Israel.

I suggested to you that we would discover as soon as we began to read the reason that Moses felt the need of praying again, the reason that he felt the need of the hand of God, the reason he felt the need of intercession. That need is emphasized, first of all, in verse 34 of chapter 32, where we read:

Exodus 32

34Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

God Withholds His Presence

Notice the reference to the angel in that verse. It should not be capitalized as it is in our text, for it is the very same word that is used in verse 2 of chapter 33: “I will send an angel before thee.” It is an ordinary angel. Heretofore in our discussion we have noticed the “Angel of the Lord” referred to. It is properly capitalized, because it is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. When you see “the Angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament, it is the Old Testament manifestation of Jesus of Nazareth. God had said to Moses, “These people have disobeyed Me. They have gone against what I wanted them to do. You have interceded for them, Moses; you have prayed for them. I remember the promise that I made to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob, and I will not go back on that promise. Take them on up there to the land, the land of Canaan. Take them on up there, and I will send an angel before you to direct you, to lead you, but [in verse 3 of chapter 33] I will not go up in the midst of thee. I myself will not go. You can go. I have given you My Word. I will even drive out the Hittities, the Perizzites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites, and you will have the land that I promised, but My presence will not go with you.”

May we digress for just a moment, though it is not a digression entirely, and say that here is illustrated a spiritual truth that we must not forget: God will never go back on His Word. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29). He does change the condition sometimes. For example, if you have been born again, if you have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior, you have the gift of eternal life. God will never go back on that. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

But if you insist on being disobedient to Him, if you insist on having unconfessed sin in your life, you will have no fellowship with Him. You will be walking on your own and in your own will, and He will not go with you. He withdraws fellowship from you and from me when we refuse to walk in the light. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin (I John 1:7). But if we do not walk in the light, there is no fellowship.

This is an illustration of that: “Moses, go ahead, take the people up to the land of promise, but I will not go with you.” What happened? No sooner was this announcement made than in verse 4 the people heard these evil tidings and mourned. That was the worst thing they could hear.

Concern for God's Presence

Will you let that sink in? Does the presence of God mean anything to you? Do you enjoy the presence of God? Do you enjoy being in fellowship with Him? Are you so in fellowship with Him and so conscious of His presence that the very moment fellowship is broken, you realize it? Do you become concerned about it? Do you mourn it? Are you sorry for it? Are you willing to pay any price that the fellowship may be restored?

I am afraid that most of us do not feel as the Israelites felt. We are not concerned when the presence of God is not with us. We are not concerned that we are walking alone so often. In the second Corinthian letter, chapter 5, the story is told of the believers of Corinth who lost the presence of God and were not the least bit concerned about it. When Paul wrote to them, he said, “You ought to have learned about this. You ought to have been concerned about it.”

Would to God there would be more concern on the part of people because God's presence is not always evident in our midst. God had said to these people in Exodus, chapter 33, verse 5, “If you are really worried about this, if you really are concerned that I am not with you, then put off your ornaments from you that I may know what to do for you.” You will notice in verse 4 that when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned, and no man did put on his ornaments. I don't think the ornaments themselves were important, but it was what the ornaments represented. They manifested to God by the putting off of these ornaments that their hearts were moved because the presence of God was not to go with them. They did what John the Baptist referred to when he said, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8). They brought forth fruits meet for repentance. They said, “Lord, we mean this. We are not just saying it; we mean it.” They showed their sincerity before the Lord.

I would like to suggest that this is the first ground for acceptable intercession. There must be a sincerity of heart. There is no need to talk to God if you don't mean it. There is no need to ask God to do anything if with your lips you say one thing, and in your actions you do another. The Israelites interceded and they showed it definitely by their actions.

The Basis of Communion

Something else had to be done. Notice verse 7:

Exodus 33

7And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation…

Let's pause for a moment: We may not understand this verse just as it is written. The Tabernacle had not yet been built. Instructions were given for it, you remember, in chapters 25-30, but it had not yet been built. Literally this means that Moses took a tent, for the words for Tabernacle and tent are interchangeable. Moses took a tent, in all probability his own tent, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it “the Tabernacle of the congregation.” You see, there had not been built the Tabernacle yet, so Moses took his own tent and pitched it afar off from the camp and called it “the Tabernacle of the congregation.” Notice the rest of this verse:

Exodus 33

7…And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
8And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.
9And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

Let us look at these three verses from end to beginning, from last to first. The first thing that I would call to your attention is that as soon as Moses pitched this tent, out away from the rest of the camp and called it “the Tabernacle of the congregation,” the pillar of cloud came and dwelt over the Tabernacle, indicating that God recognized that tent as His dwelling place.

Remember, this is not the first time we have met the pillar of cloud. As soon as the children of Israel left Egypt, the pillar of cloud appeared before them, and it advanced before them every step of the way to give them guidance in all that they did. Then you will remember that when Pharaoh left Egypt and came out to come against them and utterly destroy them, the pillar of cloud went before them and stood behind them so that it separated Pharaoh and the children of Israel, and Pharaoh could not break through the cloud; the pillar of cloud became their protection. Now the third time the pillar of cloud is mentioned in the book of Exodus, it came and stood over the tent door where Moses had gone in; and it became the basis of communion for the children of Israel, because this was the presence of God.

Seeking God's Presence

What does all this mean? Simply this: God could no longer dwell among those people as they were. They were a stiffnecked people, and He said, “If I stay here, I will have to consume them, because My holiness cannot tolerate sin.” So He went out from them, without the camp, and set up His place of meeting. Notice two reactions as we work back to the beginning. In verse 8:

Exodus 33

8And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.

This thing which Moses did created a reaction of interest on the part of the people, enough interest that they stood in their tent door and looked out to see what Moses was going to do in the tent. But that was all in which they were interested, standing in their own tent door looking.

Moses, in the second kind of reaction, took the Tabernacle and pitched it without the camp, afar off, and called it the “Tabernacle of the congregation,” and it came to pass that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the Tabernacle of the congregation which was without the camp. That was the second thing that happened. Some of them just stood in the door and looked, but others, more diligent, more earnest, more desirous of seeking the presence of the Lord, went out where the Tabernacle was.

Separation From Evil

Turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 13, where the Holy Spirit uses this incident to teach a New Testament truth concerning those of us who are living in the present Age of Grace.

Hebrews 13

12Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

What is the Holy Spirit of God saying in this passage? There may come a time in all of our lives when we will have to go without the camp, bearing the reproach of the Lord Jesus Christ; for if we stay in the camp, our fellowship with the Lord can very well be broken. What is the camp? Well, it is not always designated in this day and time, but let me give a few illustrations.

If you are related to an ecclesiastical body that denies the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ has already left that body. Revelation, chapter 3, emphasizes that. He is without, on the outside. You may be like a lot of people, and you may stay within such an ecclesiastical body and fool yourself into thinking that you are making a contribution to the people who need you there. That is one of the biggest lies that the Devil has ever hatched for Christians. If you stay, you are like the people standing in the tent door. You are watching what is going on within the camp, but you are still in the tent door. Or you may be like the folk who did not stay in the tent door, but went without to the little tent outside and there found fellowship with the Lord that you needed.

Now don't misunderstand me; there is no perfect group of Christians anywhere. If you are looking for one, you will not find it. There is no such thing. I am not suggesting that you break fellowship with Christian people just because you do not agree with every little thing and with the way everything is done, but I am saying that there may come a time in your life when you will have to leave the tent. There may come a time in your life when you will have to go without the camp, suffering every reproach it may bring upon you, because the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has moved without the camp. That is why He says, in Revelation, chapter 3, verse 20:

Revelation 3

20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

As we have emphasized, that is not an invitation to salvation. Many of you may have used it that way, and we will not fuss at you about it. If you can get someone to come to the Lord Jesus Christ by giving him an illustration of opening his heart's door and letting the Lord Jesus Christ come in, that is all right. But that is not what that verse of Scripture means. That verse of Scripture is not an invitation to salvation; it is an invitation to communion after you have left the camp.

Friends of God

These people left the camp and went out where Moses was, and that presents to us the second basis, or the second requirement, for victorious or successful intercession. First, there must be humility and repentance; then there must be separation from all known evil if you are to have power with God. In verse 11, the preparation has been made, and Moses begins the intercession. I think there is no more beautiful verse in all the Word of God then this verse:

Exodus 33

11And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…

Let us pause and think about that. They had an intimate relationship; that is the meaning of the phrase. Abraham was called a friend of God; Moses was called a friend of God; Daniel was called a friend of God; there were only those three in the Old Testament. Does it not seem amazing, then, that you have an opportunity to be called a friend of God? You do. Would you like to be known as His friend? Would you like to have such a relationship with Him that it could be said of you that you talk face to face with God just as Moses talked to God? Well, you have that opportunity.

Turn with me to the Gospel of John, chapter 15, the paragraph which begins with verse 9. The Lord Jesus is speaking to you and to me, and He says:

John 15

9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Did you notice what He said? “You have been servants, but you are now My friends. You are My friends if you do whatsoever I command you.” Many people are the servants of the Lord; few people are His friends. A host of people have enlisted in the service of the Lord, but few people have reached that relationship with Him where they can truthfully say, “I am His friend.”

How do you know whether you have reached that place? There are two ways. One is related to what we have been talking about–fellowship. “If you obey My commandments,” the Lord Jesus Christ said, “if you do what I command you, then you are My friend.” The other way you will know is that nothing will ever take you by surprise in the Lord's work.

Do you remember when God was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah back in the Old Testament? They had sinned their cup full and there was nothing else for God in His justice to do but to destroy them. But do you remember what happened? He said, “I cannot do this without discussing it with my friend, Abraham. Abraham has a nephew in the city of Sodom, and I just cannot do it without discussing it with Abraham, my friend.” And you know, He did. He stopped in Abraham's tent door one day and said, “Abraham, this is what I have to do.”

Abraham began to intercede: “Lord, have mercy.” Lot's life was spared–I want you to get this–because Abraham was a friend of God. If Abraham had not been his friend, Lot could have been destroyed in the city of Sodom. But Abraham was God's friend, and God said, “I cannot destroy the city of Sodom without telling Abraham about it.” Do you have that kind of relationship to God, where you speak to Him face to face, and where He tells you His secrets and leads you into His deep things? Well, you have the opportunity; you have the privilege.

Moses Speaks as God's Friend

Go back with me to Exodus, chapter 33. We have time only to touch on them. Notice in verse 12 that Moses was getting down to business with his friend. Notice how frank Moses was with the Lord. He was not fearful to say anything to Him. He was speaking face to face, as a man speaketh with his friend:

Exodus 33

12And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.

Now it may be difficult for me to deal with this verse of Scripture without seeming sacrilegious, but the Lord knows my heart, and He knows that I want to get this message across to you if I can. Let me paraphrase it so that you may grasp the truth of it. Moses said, “Now, Lord, you told me to take these people up there to the land, but wait a minute; You have not shown me who is to go with me. You just haven't told me yet.” You remember that when God said to Moses, “I want you to go down to the land of Egypt and deliver the children of Israel,” Moses said, “I will not go unless You send someone else with me.” God said, “You don't need anyone.” “I won't go unless You do.” God said, “All right, I will send Aaron with you.” Moses was sorry he ever made that agreement. It was Aaron who led the children of Israel off into this thing that demanded intercession.

So you will notice now, Moses has changed his tune. He does not say, “Lord, I want someone to go; I won't go, etc.” He does not even mention Aaron. He did not want any more of that. He said, “Lord, You told me to go and I will go, but You have not told me whom You are going to send with me. Lord, that is not right, because You say that You know my name. That is, we have a real close relationship. You say that I have found grace in Your sight. Lord, it doesn't look as if You know my name. It doesn't look as if I have found grace in Your sight, if You keep me guessing about how I am to get these people up there to the land.” Notice verse 13:

Exodus 33

13Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.

“Lord, if I have really found grace in Your sight, if You really do love me, if I really am Your friend, then I want You to show me now the way, that I may know You. Lord, I want to know You. I want to know what You are thinking. I want to know what You are planning. I want to know what You have in store. Lord, I have to know You.”

The Mark of Separation

How deep a desire do you have to know the Lord? How deep a desire do you have to know Him deeply? Moses had such a desire. When you have time, read chapter 21 of the Philippian letter and chapter 1 of the Ephesian letter. In Philippians, Paul said that was the greatest desire he had–to know the Lord. In the Ephesian letter, he prayed that Christians everywhere might come into the deep experience of knowing the Lord. Notice verse 15:

Exodus 33

15And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
16For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

For what is Moses interceding? The presence of the Lord. “Lord, I have to know that You are with us. I will not be satisfied with an angel.” Get this: That angel could have shown them the way. They would not have wound up in the wrong place. They would not have made a mistake. But Moses was not going to settle for an angel when he could have God Himself.

Stop for a moment and let the Holy Spirit minister that statement to your heart. How many of us settle for an angel when we could have the Lord? How many of us are willing to have God's second best when He is waiting to give His first best? Moses said, “An angel is not good enough for me. I have to know that You are with us.” He gave this reason: “Lord, that is the only way people will know that we are any different from anyone else–that the presence of God is with us.”

That is the mark of separation, and here is a great truth. If we believe that and if we would practice it, all the divisions in Christendom would not be; all the arguments and controversy would have no basis for existence. But we do not make the presence of the Lord the mark of separation; we make some little practice that we want to follow the mark of separation, and we say, “If you do not practice it the way I practice it, then I cannot have any fellowship with you.” We make some particular doctrine or some distinctive the mark of separation.

I once heard a preacher announce that he was going to preach a series of sermons on distinctives, and he put a denominational name before those distinctives: “I am going to preach on such and such distinctive.” Well, that made a separation. Someone came home here from vacation and told me that he had visited a church of a certain denomination and the subject announced in the bulletin was “Why We of the _________ Denomination Would Rather Fight Than Switch.” That is what makes the division. You see, the difference that Moses wanted known was the presence of the Lord.

Many times people who worship at Abilene Bible Church regularly say to me, “We are going to move to such and such a town, and where will we find a place like Abilene Bible Church?” Oftentimes I say to them, “I don't know that you will. You may make a mistake if you look for a place like Abilene Bible Church.” “What can we do?” My suggestion is always this: “I would visit every gathering of God's people in any town. I would find out what is there. I would find out how much of the Word of God is given. I would find out if God is there. That is where I would be, regardless of the name that might be up above the door.”

It would be a matter of where the Word of God was spread on the table and God had made His presence evident. That was the division, the only mark of separation, that Moses wanted. He said, “Lord, I don't care whether they see the symbols of all the various tribes of Israel; the only thing I care about is whether they can tell that You are with us. If they can, that is all that matters.” Moses had learned to move the heart of God.

God Answers Moses' Prayer

You will notice that three times in this time of intercession, Moses, using human terms, changed the mind of God. He did so here; you will notice in verse 14 that God said:

Exodus 33

14… My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

“Moses, if My presence means that much to you, I will go with you.” Moses did not have to go to the promised land alone. He went with the Lord. Look at verse 17:

Exodus 33

17And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

“All right, Moses; you have changed My mind. I will go with you because you have found grace in My sight.” Moses was not content with just a little. I have always been amused by Moses' prayer life. He reminds me of children. Those of you who have children have had experiences very similar to this. Sometimes they will come to you and say, “Dad, have you got any money?” At least, that is what they say to me, because they never know. I usually parry the question a little, you know; I say, “What do you think it will take?” “I think I can get by on a dollar.” “Well, I guess I have a dollar.” While I am reaching for the dollar, they say, “You couldn't spare two, could you?”

They kind of feel you out to begin with. You may be persuaded to give one, but you may be scared off by two, and they would not get any. So they start out that way.

I say this reverently: I have been amused at the prayer life of Moses because it has been like that. You see what he did; he spent all this time to say, “Lord, if You will just go with me.” The Lord said, “All right, Moses, I'll go.” Moses did not say, “Thank you, Lord. Amen.” He said, “Wait a minute, Lord, before You go; I have something else I want to ask you.” He said, “I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory. I am hungry, Lord, for a vision of Your glory.”

God's Glory and Goodness

Do you ever get hungry to see God work? Do you ever get hungry to see God move? Oh, you are in fellowship with Him; that has been established. But, oh, you would like to see Him do something. You get real hungry for Him to do it, and you say, “Lord, let me see Your glory.” Moses was hungry for that. Notice in verse 19 the twofold answer that God gave to Moses.

Exodus 33

19I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
20And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

“Moses, I will do something better than show you My glory. I will show you My goodness.” Let that sink in. Then when you have time, notice that in every instance in the Word of God when someone saw the glory of God, it scared him as it did Isaiah. He fell on his face and said, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). It is so much better to see His goodness than to see His glory.

Paul saw the glory of God. He was transported to the third Heaven where he saw it, but he was never able to talk of it. He never could say a word about it, but he said a lot about the goodness of God. Here is the thing I would like for you to get: We may be so anxious to see His glory because it is so different, so unusual, that we do not recognize His goodness day by day as He manifests it to us. He said, “I will not show you My glory; I will show you My goodness; no man can look at My face and live.”

That is not a contradiction of what we read in verse 11. Verse 11 is an idiomatic expression speaking of intimacy. It does not mean that Moses looked right into the face of God. No man has ever seen the face of God and lived.

In verse 21, God said He would do what He could do. Isn't God wonderful? Have you ever had experiences like that? You ask God for something, and He does not always say, “No, I won't do it.” He will say, “I cannot do that, but I will do this much of it.” He does not do it all because He can't. There are many reasons why He can't, but He will do as much as He can.

So He did for Moses. He said, in verse 21:

Exodus 33

21And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
22And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
23And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

Get the picture: God wanted to do what Moses asked Him to do. He could not do all of it, so He looked around, and He said, “Moses, look at this rock over here; it has a clift in it. Get on that rock, and when I get ready to pass by, I will put you in the clift of the rock, and I will put My hand over you. then I will walk by. After I have walked by, I will take My hand from off the clift, and you can see My glory as it passes by. You could not stand to see it without any protection of any kind.” So Moses was placed in the clift of the rock and was able to behold God's glory.

Conclusion

Beloved, that is the only way we can behold the glory of God–because we are in the clift of the rock. Herein lies a great spiritual truth: The rock is the Lord Jesus Christ, and as we are in the rock, the clift of the rock, through the riven side of the Savior and His shed blood, we are able to see God and still live, because it is the Lord Jesus Christ Who stands between us and Him. He is the Rock.

I hope that every one of us is in the clift of the rock. If we are not, we can be, because, as the Word of God says, it is as simple as the five-letter word “faith” in your mouth and in your heart (Romans 10:8). If you will simply in faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, God will put you in the rock, and you can behold His glory.


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