12Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” 17And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
As a parent, I didn’t let “no” pass my lips very often. And of course, my girls knew that and probably took advantage of that characteristic. I wasn’t necessarily overly permissive (I tell myself today – after the fact and quite possibly erroneously) but I really tried to consider why I saying “no” and quite often it was out of personal convenience or knee jerk reaction rather than necessity. And the girls also knew that if they took the time to discuss the situation with me that “no” probably wouldn’t happen at all.
In response to His great anger over the golden calf, God says He will withdraw His presence from the Children of Israel and send instead an angel to lead the people instead. He does this because He is a God of grace and mercy and doesn’t want His anger to lead Him to what the people deserve – their destruction. But this is a dire outcome as far as Moses is concerned. Even the thought of being outside of God’s presence is one that brings distress to Moses. Carrying that distress he addresses his concerns to the Lord. Once again we are privileged to witness the incredible relationship between God and Moses as they discuss this decision. Because Moses dares to ask God to reconsider His decision to send the angel to lead the people rather than doing it Himself, God does just that. He relents and agrees to set aside His wrath and remain with the people. This reconsideration is taken out of His great love for the people and His deep relationship with Moses. And frankly, Moses plays a little unfairly by claiming that favored place as God’s chosen people (“Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth”), thus moving God to agree to stay with the people.
After securing God’s promise to stay with the people, Moses goes even further. He has spent weeks in God’s presence and now has the temerity to ask for even more. “Show me your glory” is his next request. If there was ever anyone who had already seen the glory of God, it was Moses and yet he asks for more. Surprisingly, God doesn’t chide him for this request but instead honors it in a way that Moses can handle. There is much discussion as to exactly what Moses was allowed to see and the text is largely silent. So we can only assume it was a gift to Moses as He is allowed to experience God’s “goodness” to an even larger extent.
God shows me His goodness every single day by providing for all of my needs and seeing me washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. Just as Moses didn’t deserve to see God’s glory, I don’t deserve the grace I have received and yet God sets aside the wrath I do deserve and gives me grace and forgiveness anyway.