So over the next two Sundays, God willing, we’re going to spend two sermons looking at Exodus 34, and that’s because this chapter is the high-water mark of God’s revelation in the Old Testament. Next week we’re gonna deal more with the Mosaic covenant and what that means for us, but this week we’re going to focus on verses 1–9 as the continuation of what Pastor David Mathis showed us last week in Chapter 33. And there are a few different ways that I could preface this passage, and I struggled to know exactly what to say, but here’s where I landed, and so I just wanna say this for the sake of honesty and invitation. Here it is: Our readiness — your readiness — to hear Chapter 34, verses 5–7 depends upon how you heard Chapter 33, verse 18. Look back again at Chapter 33, verse 18. Moses begs Yahweh, “Please show me your glory.” And Moses, of course, is saying this in the middle of a high-stakes situation. He has a lot of uncertainty ahead of him. He has reasons to be frustrated and afraid, but he knows that what he needs more than anything in this moment is to see the glory of God, and so he asks for that. Moses is asking God, “Please show me your glory.” And here’s the thing: if what Moses is asking doesn’t pique your interest — if it doesn’t compel you to lean in and listen up — then Chapter 34 will not matter to you. Because Chapter 34 is God’s answer to Moses’s question … but why would you care about the answer if you don’t care about the question? Right? We understand how this works. It’s pretty simple. The world is full of answers (and so-called answers) to all kind of different questions. That is what media is, and it’s in our face all day long — more information and messages and answers to all kinds of different questions, but the only answers we care about are to the questions we’re asking — and of all the questions we ask, does anybody want to see the glory of God? Would any of us echo Moses here and want with him and ask with him of God, “God, please show me your glory”? Because, if you don’t care about the question you won’t care about the answer. I’m just being honest. But also — and this is the invitation — maybe you’ve not cared to see the glory of God before, but you can care to see it now. Maybe you’re here this morning and you’re in a difficult situation and you’re desperate, like Moses was. Or maybe you’re here and you’re just sick and tired of shallow answers to shallow questions. Or maybe you’re here and you have a growing desire to just know God, because you realize that all the searchings and longings of your heart are really for him. See, wherever you’re coming from, this morning you can, and you may, pray with Moses, “God, show me your glory.” And I invite you to do that. This morning I invite all of us to make this the question we’re asking, okay. Because God answers it. Let’s pray: Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, this morning with your Word open before us, in dependence upon your Spirit, we ask as humbly and sincerely as we can, please show us your glory. In Jesus’s name, amen. So the passage is verses 1–9 and there are two parts here that’s gonna serve as the outline for the sermon. First, in verses 1–7, there is the revelation of God. Second, in verses 8–9, there is the response of Moses. So, the revelation of God [up here]; the response of Moses [down here]. We’re starting here [high], verses 1–7, the revelation of God. The Revelation of God (verses 1–7) Here’s what’s happening: God is showing his glory to Moses by proclaiming his name. And we’re going to slow down to see this in verses 5–7, but first, let me remind you about the context again. THE CONTEXT (VERSES 1–5) In Chapter 33, verse 18, when Moses asks to see the glory of God, God tells him, basically, Okay. In verse 19, God says to Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘Yahweh.’ So God says he will reveal his glory to Moses through proclamation — in Chapter 33 God says he will do that, and then in Chapter 34 God does it. In Chapter 34, verses 1–4, God tells Moses to cut two tablets of stone. (Remember the first tablets in Chapter 32, Moses threw them down and broke them because of the golden calf. That symbolized that the covenant had been broken, and I think it’s mentioned here in verse 1 because we’re supposed to still have the sin of the people in the back of our minds.) So God tells Moses to make two more tablets and come back up to the top of the mountain, which Moses does early the next morning. That’s verse 4. So Moses is by himself, holding the new, blank tablets, back at the top of the mountain. Now look at verse 5: Yahweh descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Yahweh. [verse 6] Yahweh passed before him and proclaimed Yahweh, Yahweh … And we can see the connection here back to Chapter 33. God is doing what he said he’d do. His glory is passing by Moses by proclamation. Which means, God is showing his glory by saying something about himself. God is saying his name; he’s saying who he is. And I wanna highlight this saying piece, this proclamation piece, because God could have done this however he wanted, right? God can do whatever he wants, and yet, he chose proclamation. God chose to reveal himself through words — through sounds that have meaning. That’s what proclamation is. And get this: sounds that have meaning from thousands of years ago can be translated into new sounds today that have the same meaning. … Yahweh, Yahweh, El rahum vey-hannun. Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious. God proclaimed that about himself. Those are the words that came from the mouth of God about who he is. Look, do we understand that we, right now, we get to hear what Moses heard? God said these words to Moses, and this is not just a truth about God, but this is God himself telling us his heart. God tells us, first, his nature; and then second, he tells us his actions that flow from his nature. God’s Nature (verse 6) Verse 6: “Yahweh passed before him and proclaimed, Yahweh, Yahweh …” — This is literally Yahweh proclaiming his name, and this is the only time in the entire Bible when the divine name is mentioned twice like this, back to back. It’s meant to get our attention, it’s meant for emphasis, and, I think, this is an echo. Now there’s a super important connection here we need to see, but it’s going to take some work, okay? So I need you to really track with me. … Chapter 34, verse 6 is a developed restatement of Chapter 33, verse 19. You can see the repetition in the text. In both cases, 33:19 and 34:6, God repeats the proclaiming of his name, and right away, in both cases, he says that he is merciful and gracious. Now we might have missed that in Chapter 33. Look back at verse 33:19. God says, I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘Yahweh.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. “MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS” So you see that? Gracious and mercy in 33:19 is repeated as merciful and gracious in 34:6, and in both cases, God leads with this as the explanation of his name. It’s the first thing he says after he says “Yahweh.” And so when we read these words repeated in 34:6 we should think back to those same words in 33:19. Grace and mercy. Mercy and grace. But, why are they stated in a phrase in 33:19? Why, in 33:19, does God put grace and mercy in the phrase: I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy? Why does God do that? It’s because 33:19 is an echo way back to Exodus Chapter 3, at the burning bush. So in your minds, back up and remember the scene when Moses encountered the burning bush (this is in Exodus 3, which we looked at in September of 2019). God tells Moses that he has seen the affliction of Israel and he’s about to rescue them. He’s going to send Moses to lead the rescue, and Moses, of course, is reluctant, but do you remember what Moses says to God? Moses says if I go to the people of Israel and tell them what you’ve said, they’re going to want to know? Remember? So Moses says to God: What is your name so I can tell them? And in Exodus 3, verse 14, God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” Which means, I will be who I will be. That’s how God first told Moses his name. It means that God is absolutely free. There is no other way to define him other than in terms of himself. He is the I am. His name is Yahweh — he will be who he will be and that is that is Chapter 3. But see now, in Chapter 33, there’s a lot that’s happened since the burning bush … and as Moses looks out at his next assignment, he is desperate to know a little more about what kind of God Yahweh is. So hear this echo happening in Chapter 33:19. God tells Moses his name again, but this time it’s not “I will be who I will be” but it’s “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” So see, this is the burning bush all over again, but better — because it’s not just that God is free, it’s that God is free to show mercy and grace to whoever he wants, because he in his nature is merciful and gracious. God is telling us more about who he is. And in 34:6, as God explains his mercy and grace, Moses doesn’t just need to take his sandals off, but he needs to be hid by God in the cleft of the rock, because the glory is too much. Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious — that is, he is a God who is slow to anger. “SLOW TO ANGER” Now it’s fascinating to me that as God elaborates on his being merciful and gracious, he mentions anger right away. He’s going straight for the problem here, because we know by now that God can be angry, right? That’s the issue in Chapter 32. After the golden calf, God’s wrath burned hot against the people (32:11) and Moses had to deal with that. Moses knows that God can be angry, and so how’s this going to work? Because this is a stiff-necked people and it’s just a matter of time before they offend again the holiness of God. How will this play out? Is Moses’s mediation between God and the people always going to be Moses just trying to hold off God’s anger? Do you get the problem here? The question is: is God just always angry and Moses is the real difference-maker? Is that what’s going on? The answer is No. Because God is slow to anger. God’s anger is not like human anger. Human anger tends to be unpredictable and irritable, because we are perturbable creatures. Sometimes with us anger is a mood. [And you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes we can just be grumpy.] But that’s never the case with God. God is never in an angry mood; he’s slow to anger. Which means every moment of his anger is a perfectly calculated righteous response to sin, and he doesn’t have to zap it out like a reflex because he has the capacity to forbear. Do we know the patience of God! He is a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger — that is, he is a God abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. “ABOUNDING IN STEADFAST LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS” And we can see how this completes the picture: if God is slow in one way, what is, as it were, “natural” to him? If he’s slow to anger, what abounds or gushes or overflows or emanates from him? Steadfast love and faithfulness. And we know these words. “Steadfast love” is a good translation, but maybe my favorite way to say it is that this is God’s “never-stopping, never-giving up, unbreaking, always-and-forever love.” That’s what this is. Just like God’s anger is not unpredictable and arbitrary, the same goes for his love. God means to love who he loves, and he never stops. You can’t stop him. Nothing can stop him. Seriously: neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, not height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can stop the love of God. (see Romans 8:38–39) And if this steadfastness of his love doesn’t assure us enough, he joins it to his faithfulness. It’s steadfast love and faithfulness — which means, he always does what he says he will do. And that is foundational to this relationship, because in terms of the covenant, the only reason Yahweh is still dealing with Israel here is because of what he promised Abraham. Remember that Moses goes there in Chapter 32. Moses says, God, you swore to Abraham! And God confirms it here, Yes, and I keep my promises. This is who God is. Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. And because we know who he is, we can know how we will act, because God always acts in harmony with his nature. We see this fact in the pages of Scripture. The prophet Jonah knew this. … Remember the prophet Jonah did not want to preach in Nineveh. He tries to flee, but God brings him there anyway, dramatically. And Jonah preaches as he’s told; the people repent; God has mercy on them; but then Jonah is angry because he hates Nineveh, and so he finally tells the truth, Jonah Chapter 4, verse 2. He says, This is why I didn’t wanna come to Nineveh! It’s because I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love … (Jonah 4:2) Jonah is quotes Exodus 34:6. This is why Jonah tried to keep God from his enemy — it’s because he knew that God acts in harmony with his nature, and because his nature is mercy and grace, therefore God will forgive. Forgiveness is the action that flows from the heart of God. Verse 7 takes us there. God’s Actions (verse 7) Verse 7 lists four actions, two positive and two negative, and then there’s a timing piece. I’ll mention the timing piece first. In verse 7, in the first clause, notice the word “for thousands” (or “to the thousandth generation”); and then in the final clause notice the “to the third and fourth generation.” Those are two different timeframes that are meant to be juxtaposed. One is to say: a very very long time that basically never ends; and the other is to say: a specifically long time here on this earth. The idea is that these are not the same. One is a fact because it’s the heart of God; the other is a fact because it’s necessary. Yahweh keeps (or guards) steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. This is God’s heart in action. Yahweh does not clear the guilty (he doesn’t let sin go unpunished), visiting the iniquity on as many generations as it calls for. This is God’s holiness offended, which deserves his righteous response of judgment. Don’t the misimpression that God being merciful means he is some big “anything goes” Teddy bear in the sky. God is just and therefore he judges sin. His judgment comes at times in this life (which is verse 7), but it will certainly come in the final judgment. Remember the anger of God is a reality. And this creates tension in the text. We have more questions about how this works. But to the question, “Show me your glory!” … God has given his answer: Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. This is the glory of God. This is the proclamation of his name: Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious. This is the revelation of God Now what do we do with this? This is the truth about God. What does it mean for us? Well I think we can learn from the response of Moses. The Response of Moses (verses 8–9) Moses responds in two ways: Praise and Petition. And we’re going to start with the last first. That’s verse 9. It’s that Moses prays. He petitions God. PETITION (VERSE 9) Remember back in Chapter 32 when Moses petitions God not to destroy Israel, he prayed on the basis on God’s reputation. He didn’t ask for God to forgive Israel; he just asked that God not destroy them. But now look at how he prays, verse 9: O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance. Because Moses now knows that God is free to show mercy and grace, he has the confidence to ask for mercy and grace. Because God is merciful and gracious, that is the only way Israel stands a chance. And the same goes for us. I just wanna be super clear about this. Pastor David Mathis nailed it last week, and I just want to say it again. The only chance we have to receive mercy from God is because God’s mercy is not dependent upon us. That is good news for sinners. It means that maybe you’re here this morning and you’ve done something terrible and you hate yourself for it — well guess what, God can forgive you. That God shows mercy on whom he will show mercy means that he will show mercy to you regardless of how badly you’ve messed up. His mercy doesn’t depend on you. Yahweh shows mercy because he is merciful. And so we ask for it. We turn from our sin and we ask God for mercy. Like Moses does here. But verse 8 comes first. Look back at verse 8. Praise (verse 8) Right after Moses has seen the glory of God, after he has heard Yahweh proclaim his name, verse 8: And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. In Chapter 32, Israel as a nation had quickly turned away from God in sin, but here in Chapter 34, Moses, the mediator, quickly turns to God in worship. Before he asks for anything, before he makes another move, he puts his face on the ground — and the text doesn’t tell us anything he said, just that he worshiped. This is praise without words. What is there to say? Moses is in awe of the glory of God. Who is a God like this? The prophet Micah will say this later, Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. (Micah 7:18) We have to understand that there was no category for a God who forgives. Moses asked to see God’s glory because he wanted to know him more, but what God said to Moses overcame him. It stopped him in his tracks. You know, when we gather here on Sundays for worship, we sing together. And it’s good and biblical to sing together as worship. I’m glad we do that. But it also would be good and appropriate if we gathered together and didn’t say a word, but just bowed our heads in awe of the glory of God. What if we just stopped for a minute … what if we just stopped and let the truth of the mercy and grace of God just wash over us? If before anything else Moses would do that, how much more should we who have seen more than Moses? Brothers and sisters, remember, of all that Moses has seen here, this is God’s back, but we have the cross of Christ. See, there are details here that Moses does not know. Remember the question of: how does this work? How can God both forgive the guilty but never clear the guilty? How does God forgive sin but also punish sin? Well, it’s called substitutionary atonement, and God shows us this in the Book of Leviticus, the very next book, but all of this is pointing to our Lord Jesus Christ when he was slain in the stead of sinners. Jesus dying on the cross was the most vivid display of the glory of God, because there God didn’t proclaim his heart through words, but he demonstrated his heart through the shedding of his Son’s blood. How much, how deep, is God merciful and gracious? Bearing shame and scoffing rude In my place condemned He stood Sealed my pardon with His blood Praise be to Yahweh, what a Savior! Do you want to see the glory of God? Look at the cross of Christ! And yes, we ask for his mercy, we do! — and we worship him! We praise his name! We rejoice in God’s heart that he has made known to us, front and center, in Jesus. And I want to invite you now to give him thanks. The Table That is what this table is about. We come here each week to remember together the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to thank him. And it’s not so much that we say something right now, but it’s that we receive him in awe of who he is. Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love — receive Jesus. If you trust in him this morning, this meal is for you. His body is the true bread. His blood is the true drink.
Yahweh, a God Merciful and Gracious
November 7, 2021 • Jonathan Parnell
We Will See His Glory
November 21, 2021 • Kenneth Ortiz
In this sermon, Kenny Ortiz closes out the Exodus series by giving a recap and overview of the entire book and then summarizing the last six chapters. Way back in the Garden of Eden, humans enjoyed God's presence, but we sinned and the perfect fellowship was broken. But God immediately promises to send a savior. Then, the entire books of Genesis and Exodus are the unfolding plan of God to fulfill his promise to send that savior; to bring us back into the presence of God. At first it appears that the tabernacle is going to be the place where humans re-enter into the presence of God, but they're boxed out of God's presence there, and the tabernacle actually becomes the place where humans realized that all their efforts cannot bridge the gap between humanity and God. The tabernacle cannot remove the separation between God and man, but it foreshadows the person who will be able to remove the separation: Jesus.
Show Us Your Glory
October 31, 2021 • David Mathis
In 1539, about 22 years after the Reformation had begun, a Catholic Cardinal named Sadoleto wrote a letter to Protestant Geneva, trying to convince the city to return to the Catholic Church. John Calvin had been a pastor in Geneva, but was exiled the year before. But Geneva turned to Calvin to write a response to the Cardinal. In it, Calvin identifies the main issue of the Reformation as this: the glory of God. Calvin says to the Cardinal, “[Your] zeal for heavenly life [is] a zeal which keeps a man entirely devoted to himself, and does not, even by one expression, arouse him to sanctify the name of God.” In other words, Catholic theology is man-centered, and does not honor God as it ought. “It is not very sound theology,” writes Calvin, “to confine a man’s thoughts so much to himself, and not to set before him, as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God.” 350 years later, in 1891, New Testament scholar Geerhardus Vos, identified this “zeal to illustrate the glory of God” as what enabled Reformed theology to grasp the fullness of Scripture unlike any other branch of Christendom. He said, “Reformed theology took hold of the Scriptures in their deepest root idea. . . . This root idea which served as the key to unlock the rich treasuries of the Scriptures was the preeminence of God’s glory in the consideration of all that has been created” (Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, 241). So, this morning, on Reformation Sunday, and on Reformation Day itself, we remember our heritage as Protestants as zeal to illustrate the glory of God, and taking hold of the preeminence of God’s glory. It is a sweet Providence, as we continue our Exodus series, to open together to chapter 33 where Moses prays, “Please show me your glory.” Ten Words to Golden Calf This fall we have journeyed from Exodus 20 and the giving of the Ten Commandments, to the refracting of the Commandments in the case law of chapters 21–23, and to God formally making a covenant with the people in chapter 24. Then Moses goes up the mountain for forty days and nights (24:18) and there receives God’s plan for the nation’s worship: detailed instructions for a traveling temple, called the tabernacle, and its furniture and utensils, and garments for the priests and their consecration. All that in chapters 25–31. Then we saw last week the screeching, tragic fall of Exodus 32. Just as God finishes speaking with Moses on the mountain, he informs him that the people “have corrupted themselves” (32:7). “They have turned aside quickly out of the way that [God] commanded them.” In their impatience, and pride, they “have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it” (32:9). Within forty days of making a covenant with God, they have broken it, flagrantly. God says to Moses in 32:9–10, “Behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them.” Moses implores God not to destroy the people, for the sake of God’s own name and reputation, and in faithfulness to his promises. And God relents. At least for now, he will not wipe out the nation, great as their sin is. Chapter 32 ends with Moses wondering aloud whether atonement might somehow be made, whether God might somehow forgive their sin. That’s the question in the air as we come to chapter 33. Reformation Truths in Exodus 33 On this Reformation Day, let me draw your attention to three great Reformation truths on which the account of Exodus 33 turns. 1. TOTAL DEPRAVITY (VV. 1–6) First, the people receive a “disastrous word” about their sin and how it separates them from the holy God — which is not just a word for Israel. Look at verses 3–6:Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey [so God is fulfilling his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” “When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’ ” 6 Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.” Stiff-necked. Twice God says here (to the people) what he had said (about them) to Moses in 32:9. Then: “behold, it is a stiff-necked people.” Now: “you are a stiff-necked people.” It isn’t that chapter 32 made them stiff-necked. The great sin of the golden calf didn’t cause their necks to be stiff with pride; it revealed the stiffness of their necks. They were arrogant. They did not submit to God’s law and God’s timing. They were haughty. Stubborn with pride. Another way to speak about this stiff-necked people, and the condition into which we ourselves were born, is the Reformation term “total depravity.” In our sin, whether at Sinai or in the modern world, we do not have untainted hearts, or untainted minds, with which to see God for who he really is, and sin for what it really is. Total depravity does not mean we are as depraved as we can be, but that we are depraved in all our faculties. Sin has infected every aspect of our being. We do not have the ability to think or feel or choose or achieve our way out. We are “dead in our sins” (Ephesians 2:1, 5), “darkened in [our] understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in [us], due to [our] hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). We are born totally depraved, as Israel was. Stiff-necked as Israel was. Verse 4 calls it a “disastrous word.” Because of their sin, God will not “go up” among them to the promised land. He will fulfill his word and send them on, but he will not be among them, lest his holiness consume them. (This is a ray of hope, and Calvin would be pleased, that the people are not content to have the promised land without the presence of God, at least in this humbling moment.) So Israel’s honeymoon with God is over. Their sin has been exposed; his holiness has been revealed. The nation has been humbled. They remove their ornaments in verse 4: “When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.” Now they know their sin, and what they deserve; now they will put away triumphalism and pretense, and walk with a limp, from Sinai to Canaan. May God make us today Christians without ornaments. 2. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION (VV. 18–23) Moses’s advocacy for the people that began in chapter 32 comes to its culmination in his brief and audacious request in verse 18, and in God’s response in verses 19–23. By verse 18, Moses is caught in the tension between God’s holiness and the nation’s need for mercy. On the one hand, the people deserve to be consumed. And God, in his holiness, cannot simply be among them, in their sin. Given God’s holiness and the people’s sin, how can Moses confidently “go up” from Sinai to the promised land. Will this not end in disaster? So Moses wants to know more about this God. Who is he? What kind of God is he? Will he forgive? And so he says in verse 18, “Please show me your glory.” God’s response, then, in verses 19–23 has two parts: a revelation and a limitation. First, the revelation in verse 19. God says, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’ [Yahweh, as we saw in Exodus 3]. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” This is the kind of answer Moses was looking for. When God says, “I will make all my goodness pass before you,” he addresses Moses’s fear about the badness of the people, their depravity, their stiff necks. God does not point to the people’s lack of goodness, but to the reality of his own. He will uphold the covenant with his people, not because of their goodness, but because of his goodness. His choice of Israel to be his people is not based on their deservedness. His election of his people is without their meeting any conditions. That is, unconditional election — true at Sinai, true of the church. God is utterly free to choose whom he will as recipients of his mercy, with no external constraints. He is not dependent on Israel’s choice. He is not dependent on our goodness. He is free to choose any people, and any persons, he so chooses. You want to know why you can count on his commitment to his people? Not because of their goodness, God says, but because “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” And this goodness of God on display in his grace and mercy is his glory — his weight, his character, his heart. And this is the answer Moses needed to go forward. This is not on the people. And this is not on Moses. This is on God. He has chosen his people. He will see them through. His goodness and sovereign freedom in choosing whom he will sustains the covenant. And so the Reformation slogan was soli Deo gloria, to God alone be the glory. So, God’s unconditional election of Israel was a precious word to Moses, and to the people. And it is a precious balm to God’s people today, and especially to the weak in faith, to those who doubt, to those who are honest with themselves about own lack of goodness, who wonder, Can God really show someone like me grace? Can he really have mercy on me? Can he forgive? He knows how bad I am. If that’s you this morning, I want you to hear your Father reply, without equivocation, and with a smile, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” I choose you not because you are good, but because I am. Your badness cannot stop my choice. Your evil cannot spoil my freedom when I set my love upon you. I am free to show you mercy, free to show you grace, free to choose you, despite your sin; free to love you, however unworthy you feel. But God’s not done. There is not only the answer Moses needs, the revelation, but also a limitation. God says “But” in verse 20: “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and 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. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” Moses will get to glimpse the glory of God, but it will be only a glimpse — not God’s face, but his back. Moses may know more of God, but not all of God. Which Moses will have to be content with for now. But God is not done revealing himself to Moses and to Israel. As God has shown his glory in redeeming his people from Egypt, he will show his glory in preserving them in the wilderness for forty years, and making the walls of Jericho fall, and bringing his people into the promised land, delivering his people through the time of the judges, and in taking a humble shepherd boy and putting him on the nation’s throne. And God will show his glory as he justly punishes the nation’s idolatry in decline and exile, and when he raises up prophets to proclaim hope beyond exile. And he will show his glory when he himself enters the world as a humble infant, laid in a manger, and lives in obscurity for thirty years. He will show his glory when he calls and trains disciples and heals the sick and proclaims good news. And climactically he will show his glory on a hill called Calvary outside Jerusalem, where God himself, in the person of his Son, bears the sins of his people — like Moses could not do — and takes upon himself all the destruction we deserved for depravity and stiff necks. And then the glorious God rises again in triumph. What Moses could not yet see of the glory, we see far more fully in Jesus, especially at the cross. When Moses cried, “Show me your glory,” it’s as if God responds, “Just you wait. For now, Moses, I’ll proclaim my name. I’ll renew the covenant. You’ll see part. And one day, I’ll show you and the world far more of my glory.” And that glory is the gospel that Jesus, who is God himself, died to save idolaters like us. The gospel of Jesus is the culminating revelation of God’s glory. 3. ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS (VV. 7–17) Now, finally, with Jesus already in view, let’s marvel at the Christlike intercession of Moses in verses 7–17 as he leverages his own favor with God for the sake of the people. Verses 7–11 create a striking tension with verses 1–6 and the “disastrous word” about the people’s stiff necks and depravity. Verses 7–11 present an amazing contrast in God’s favor on Moses. God has said to the people, You are stiff-necked; if I go up among you, I’ll consume you. Yet, the holy God speaks “to Moses face to face,” verse 11, “as a man speaks to his friend.” You might wonder at this point, didn’t we just see in verse 20 that God said “you cannot see my face,” and in verse 23, “my face shall not be seen”? But here, in verse 11, God speaks “to Moses face to face”? That’s a good question. I think the answer is, as one wise commentator says about verse 23, “The attempt to describe the indescribable strains language to its limit” (Alec Motyer, Exodus, 299). Verse 11 includes “two idioms for direct communication” (Robert Alter, Hebrew Bible). The point is, in verse 11, God’s stunning favor on Moses. Watch, then in verses 12–17, how Moses leverages his favor with God (he mentions it four times!) to intercede for the people — the people that God has been saying to Moses are “your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt” (32:7; again in 33:1): When Moses asks in verse 12 about the identity of the angel, he slides in, at the end of verse 13, “Consider too that this nation is your people.” Then in verse 15, after God has promised to go up with him, Moses moves from “me” to “us”: “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.” Then twice in verse 16, he identifies himself with the people: “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?” In other words, Moses, knowing he has found favor in God’s sight, seeks to leverage that favor for the sake of the people. And God grants Moses his request. Verse 17: “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” And if God would do that for Moses, how much more for his own Beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased? Jesus’s Favor and Faith Alone “Alien righteousness” is the term Protestants have used to talk about the righteousness with which we are justified, fully accepted, before the holy God. On our own, we, like the people of Israel, are unrighteous, ungodly stiff-necked, totally depraved. But Jesus Christ is righteous. He is God’s Beloved Son. He has found full favor with God. Christ is our righteousness before God, not our own. So, our righteousness is an alien righteousness, not native to us. Jesus is not only the better glimpse of divine glory but also, as man, the better Moses who leverages his favor with God for the sake of his stiff-necked people, joined to him by faith alone.