1. God revealed His glory in dimensions to varying groups of people in Israel
I’ve been studying the cloud of the glory of God and it is now clear to me that the cloud and the glory are entertwined. God used the cloud to cloak the exceeding brightness and fire which accompanies Him. People would have died in the brightness and fire if He had not done so. I also discovered that God showed His glory in degrees – the nationals saw the cloud, fire, heard the voice of the Lord, but did not know what He looked like. They had to stay afar off. Meantime, the elders saw another dimension of glory – from a closer view, but Moses was the one who saw and spoke with the Lord face to face, according to Exodus 33:
And 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
And 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.
And 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 (Ex 33: 9-11)
2. Apostle Moses spoke with God face to face
The preceding text was written in a time of crisis. The Israelites had just sinned by worshipping idols and were under threat of extermination. Although Moses had interceded for them, God was still angry. Moses had offered himself as a substitute, preferring to be blotted out of God’s book rather than seeing the nation entirely destroyed. Things were at touch and go, because God was really very angry. The people were in a state of repentance and those who sought God went to the tabernacle or church building. Moses also went there. As he did so, the Lord descended in the cloud and met him there.
The relationship between the Lord and Moses was one of close friendship and this was evident to all of the Israeli nationals. Moses took the opportunity to plead with the Lord to spare the lives of the people, reminding Him of His promise to Abraham. The Lord agreed to spare the people based on Moses’ relationship with Him. Moses then asked for something rather unusual. He asked God to show him His glory (Ex 33: 18).
3. But Apostle Moses wanted to see greater glory than what he had know previously
Helloooo! Moses more than anyone else had seen the glory of the Lord. What more did he want? I believe that he wanted a sign of God’s favor with Him. The people had provoked the Lord excessively with their idolatry. Moses himself had become angry the previous day and had broken the idol, poured water over it and forced the people to drink that mess. He had also killed 3000 of the people. Given the scenario, I believe that Moses was asking for greater reassurance than what he had previously received. He was in reality asking the Lord to show him more of the glory than he had previously seen. Moses wanted to know God in a greater dimension. This tells us that we can never fully know the unsearchable riches of God – there are always greater dimensions of knowledge of God and His ways:
The Lord’s response was:
“I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”“But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock: and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by (Ex 33 :18-20)