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After the whole disaster with the people making the golden cow idol, God said, “Now, go to the land I’ll give you. I’ll send My angel ahead of you, but I’m not going with you. I’m still too mad! I might end up destroying you on the way there.”
When the people heard this, they were really sad. “Oh no, we can’t go without God!”
So Moses said to God, “I know You have told me to lead these people to the land You promised them. But You’ve not told me who’s going to help me get them there. If You aren’t going with us, please don’t make us leave this place. But if You do go with us, everyone will know that You’re happy with Your people and with me. It’s You going with us that makes us different from the rest of the nations on the earth.”
God agreed, “Okay. I’ll go with you Myself so that you can be at rest. I will go with you because I am your friend, and I am happy with you, Moses.”
Wow! God just changed His mind because of one man who He was happy with — one friend.
Now was Moses’ chance to ask God for even more! Moses wanted more of God, and He was going to ask for it! He boldly blurted out, “Show me your Glory! The Real You! I want to see you in all your Glory!”
Moses had spoken with God through the burning bush. He had seen glimpses of God in the pillars of cloud and fire. He had even talked with God just like he was face to face with a friend. But, somehow, Moses knew that what he had been seeing was still not everything. Even though he had spoken to God like he was face to face, he knew that he still hadn’t really seen God’s face in all, all, all its Glory.
It’s a little bit like when you see someone in a mirror or in a picture. You have kind of seen that person, but not really. There’s something different when you meet someone for real versus a picture or a mirror or a reflection in a pond. That’s sort of how it was for Moses. He had seen forms of God and talked to Him, but he hadn’t ever seen God in ALL His awesome Glory. You’ll hear of other times this happens in the Bible, too.
Moses didn’t want to see just some aspects of God and His nature. He wanted it all!! He wanted to see, see, see and know, know, know more of God. And he knew there was much more.
God answered Moses, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do! I will make all My Goodness pass in front of you, and I will announce My name. I will have mercy on whomever I choose to have mercy, and compassion on whomever I choose to have compassion. But, you cannot really see My face, because no one is allowed to see My face and stay alive.”
God continued, “I have a good place in mind. When My Glory is passing by, I will put you in a big crack in this rock over here, and I’ll put My hand over you while I’m passing by. Then I will take My hand away and you will see My back, but I can’t let you see My face.”
Then God said to Moses, “But first, cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. So be ready in the morning, and come to Me on the top of Mount Sinai.”
So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, got up early in the morning and went up the mountain, carrying the two tablets of stone.
Then Yahweh descended in the cloud and stood with Moses on the mountain near the crack in the rock. This was it! God was about to pass by Moses. Ready! Set! Go!
As God passed by Moses, He announced, “My name is Yahweh, I AM who I AM, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and overflowing with loving-kindness and faithfulness, giving loyal Covenant Love to thousands of generations, and forgiving wrongdoing, disobedience, and sin, but Who in no way leaves the guilty unpunished (but only to 3 or 4 generations).”
Moses threw himself face down on the ground before God! Once again, for 40 days and 40 nights Moses ate no food and drank no water and prayed for the people. God wrote the laws again on the two stone tablets.
After the new stone tablets of rules were finished, Moses went back down the mountain. But, something about him looked different! The people stared at him, and whispered, and stood far away from him.
“Look at Moses!”
“Whoa! Look at his face!”
“What happened to him up there on the mountain?!”
When God’s Glory had passed by Moses, God was so radiant and bright and beautiful and powerful that it made Moses’ face glow, glow, glow. The skin on his face was actually shining! Just like the moon reflects the light of the sun, Moses’ face was reflecting God’s glory. And he didn’t even know it!
When the people saw Moses coming, they were a little freaked out to see a person shining like the sun and glowing in the dark! They didn’t want to get close to him.
But Moses called to them, so Aaron and the leaders came over. When the people saw that the glowing wouldn’t hurt them, they all came over, too, and Moses told them all about the wonderful Covenant of Laws God had given them.
After that, Moses started wearing a veil to cover his glowing skin so that it wouldn’t freak the people out too much. Of course, Moses would take off the veil when he talked to God, because they were friends, and Moses wanted to see as much, much, much of God as he possibly could, without dying. :)