Exodus 33:18


On this incident, remark -

I. THE GOOD MAN THIRSTS FOR EVER FULLER MANIFESTATIONS OF THE DIVINE GLORY. The more he knows of God, the more he would know. The nearer he gets, he presses nearer still. He "longs" to see God's power and glory" (Psalm 63:2). He prays to see as much of it as may be possible to him on earth. He will only be satisfied when admitted to the full vision of it in heaven (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2).

II. GOD'S GLORY IS TWOFOLD - ESSENTIAL AND ETHICAL.

1. God's essential glory. This is the glory which pertains to his existence. It is compared in Scripture to the white dazzling light - "light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16).

2. God's ethical glory. This is the glory of his character. It was revealed when God proclaimed his "name" to Moses (ver. 19; Exodus 34:5-8).

III. MAN, IN HIS PRESENT STATE OF EXISTENCE, CAN RECEIVE THE VISION OF GOD'S ESSENTIAL GLORY ONLY UNDER GREAT LIMITATIONS. The full discovery of it would slay him (ver. 20). Moses beheld it but partially, hid in a clift of the rock - saw but its reflection (vers. 21-23). Even thus to perceive it implied an exaltation of the consciousness - an opening of the spiritual eyes - not vouchsafed to ordinary men. A mediate revelation is at present all that is possible to us. We have this in the reflection of the Creator's glory in creation (Psalm 19:1, 2).

IV. GOD'S ETHICAL GLORY ADMITS OF BEING REVEALED WITH MUCH GREATER FULNESS.

1. No barrier, either to the revelation or the perception of it, exists in physical conditions. It is glory of character. It is discerned by the same faculties by which we discern spiritual beauty and goodness in the characters of our fellow-men.

2. God has revealed it. We are not straitened in him. He has kept nothing back. He has made his goodness pass before us. He has revealed his name. The Divine Son is a perfect embodiment of the moral glory of the Father (John 1:14).

3. The sole barrier to the perception of it is the limitation of moral capacity in ourselves. It is in ourselves we are straitened. We lack the purity of heart necessary to give right spiritual discernment. Our perception of the glory of truth, righteousness, holiness, love, and mercy in God, will be in precise proportion to the degree in which these qualities are formed in our own natures. - J.O.









Show me Thy Glory.
It was a fine aspiration, worthy of the man who uttered it, and the occasion on which he spoke it — "Show me Thy glory." It was the reaching out of a darker dispensation after gospel light — the reflections wishing to lose themselves in the great original. It was a man who had had great things given him, and therefore asked more. He had had law; he had had presence. And now from presence he mounts up to the only thing above it — glory, which is above presence. That is always a right field of aspiration — something beyond the present attainment, taking the mercy given as stepping-stones up higher. Do not be afraid of high spiritual ambition. Cultivate aspirations — they are little different from prayer — they are very elevating.

I. LET US SEE TO WHAT MOSES ASPIRED. What are we to understand by "glory"? Evidently it was more than law. There are three kinds of glory.

1. There is the glory of circumstances that addresses itself to the senses — the glory, to the Christian, of gold and of pearl, the glory of surrounding angels, the glory of beautiful ministrations, the glory of light.

2. Then there is moral glory — such as that of the Lord Jesus Christ upon earth (John 1:14).

3. The glory of the sense or consciousness that everything goes back to the Creator, encircling Him with His own proper perfections, the living of God in the adoration, gratitude, and service of His creatures. Moses saw all three. His prayer had an answer on the Mount of Transfiguration.

II. IT WAS A VERY REMARKABLE ANSWER THAT GOD MADE TO HIM. "I will make My kindness" — goodness, kindness, they are the same — "My kindness pass before thee." Kindness is glory. For example, glory is a covenanted thing, but the only covenanted thing is love. I do not read of other things covenanted; but God's glory must be in His covenant, therefore it is God's kindness. The glory of God was in Jesus Christ. That was the manifestation of the glory of God — that is kindness. The glory of God is Himself. Now God is love — He has many attributes, but they meet to make love. And take this lesson. Kindness is greatness, goodness is glory. Really, it is no greatness, it is no glory to see faults. It is so easy, and it is so poor, and it is so mean to see faults, and talk of faults. But it is great, really great, intellectually great, morally great, to see excellencies. Kindness is glory — it is a heavenly truth — the kindness of God is His glory. And every one among us is really glorious in proportion as he is kind. And the one of kindest judgments and kindest words has the most glory because he is nearest to the likeness of God.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Correct views of the Divine character lie at the foundation of true religion. The attributes with which the Divine character is invested have also a powerful influence on the mind. Carrying forward the same train of thought, we shall find that even under the full light of the system of Christianity, the peculiar aspect in which the Divine character is viewed will greatly modify Christian conduct and enjoyment. Thus, upon one may rest a sense of the terrible majesty of God. On another may rest a sense of awe and veneration, and the still small voice seem ever to sound in his ears, "Be still, and know that I am God." To a third is presented most vividly the idea of holiness; and to a fourth, the idea, the triumphant thought, is, "God is love." These various views must greatly modify our mode of approach before God.

I. First, then, LET US CONSIDER THE DESIRE OF MOSES.

1. Did he desire to behold some grand and glorious manifestation of the Deity; some outward form or shape to represent the great Jehovah? Why should such be his desire? In the first place, he must have had correct views of the Deity — he must have known that "God is a Spirit." Our tendency to attach form to the Deity arises from the limited nature of our faculties. We are principally influenced by external qualities; we judge by them; and though we know a spirit has not the ordinary qualities of matter, yet we can form no distinct conception without associating some of them. But, in the second place, why should he desire to behold such external displays of glory and power? He had worshipped at the burning bush. The sea had divided at his approach; the Divine presence, as a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, had been his guide and protection; and, lastly, he had stood amidst the terrific scenes of Sinai until he exclaimed, "I do exceedingly fear and quake."

2. May he have used the expression in the sense of the Psalmist where he says, "The heavens declare the glory of God"; desiring to understand more of creative power and skill? There can be doubt that he earnestly desired to know all that could be known in reference to the great work of creation.

3. Is it probable that he desired to behold the glory of God as manifested in his past government of the world? In this he had already been instructed.

4. Since, then, his prayer could not refer to external exhibitions of the glory of the Deity, or to His creative power, or past government of the world, it only remains for us to turn toward the future. And if we view the circumstances surrounding him, we shall see that by his prayer, "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory," he desired to understand the merciful purposes of God toward the Israelites, and through them to the world. That the Almighty had great designs in view in reference to the Israelites,he had a right to infer, from what had already been done for them. As when an architect collects in one place a vast quantity of materials, we have a right to expect the erection of some magnificent edifice; so, from previous and vast preparation on the part of the Deity, some event of momentous importance might be inferred. Abraham had been called from his native land and from among his kindred; his sons had been trained under peculiar circumstances. What connection this had with the hope of a Messiah! Again, the circumstance through which he had just passed were of a most singular character. He had been upon the sacred mount. Israel had said, "Let not God speak with us"; and Moses had stood as their representative for forty days. But this very people who had heard the voice of God had turned to idolatry at the foot of the mount. What can be the measure of that mercy which is preceded by the preparatory act of the pardon of two millions and a half of people? His longing soul desires to know all the purposes of God. The act of mercy, just witnessed, kindled within him a greater love for God, a more earnest wish to fathom the depths of His goodness; and, with the vehemence of intense desire, he cries out, "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory " — grant me a full exhibition of Thy mercy and Thy love.

II. Let us next consider HOW FAR THIS DESIRE WAS SATISFIED. In answer to this earnest prayer, the Deity replies, "I will make all My goodness pass before thee," etc. (Exodus 5:19). Again in verses 21-23," Behold there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock," etc. And again it is said in Exodus 34:5-7, "And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord." In this manifestation of the Divine character to Moses, a few particulars may be noticed.

1. He proclaimed the name of the Lord before him. This probably refers to such a general view of the Divine administration as exhibits the benevolence, holiness, and justice of God, intimately blended in the government of man.

2. He made all His goodness pass before him. This was probably a prophetic view of His mercy to the Israelites as a nation.

3. He showed him His administration as a sovereign: "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." Here was explained the difference of the treatment of Israel and Canaan.

4. He gave him a prophetic view of the mission of Christ. This is indicated in the expression, "Thou shalt see My back parts." The Hebrew word in this place translated "back parts," refers to time as as well as to position. And many able commentators and critics have referred this passage to the incarnation of Christ. The revelation appears to have been given to Moses to strengthen his own faith, and to fit him for those arduous duties required of the leader of such a people. He is placed in the "cleft of the rock," and before him passes, as though spread out on an immense canvass, the representations of the future.

III. We can now inquire WHY HIS PETITION WAS NOT FULLY GRANTED.

1. From what has been already expressed, we are prepared to assume that it was not because in any manifestation there would be such terrific grandeur as should destroy human existence. For, first, Moses, we think, did not pray for external manifestations. These could be but symbols; and, however vast and magnificent the symbols might be, they never could adequately represent the Divine character. But, secondly, there is no intimation made, as we think, that if an exhibition were given, it would be one of terrific majesty.

2. The language employed in the text, "Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no man see Me and live," does not express any reason why man is unable to bear a view of the Deity. It simply declares the fact that man cannot see the face of God.

3. The reason why man could not behold this and live, would not be because of its terror or majesty; but because the view of the riches of His grace, His compassion and benevolence would excite emotions of reverence, of admiration, of love, and of joy, too overwhelming for humanity to bear. Each manifestation of the benevolence of God called forth songs of joy and ascriptions of praise from those who beheld them in ancient times. "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." Now if, in these cases, a single view had such an effect, what would be the result if all the mercy and compassion of God, in its unbounded immensity and inexhaustible fulness, could, at one moment, be revealed to the human mind? Humanity could not bear the vision. To support this view we may reflect, that things exciting emotions, even of a pleasurable character, may extend so far as to become destructive, and that emotions of joy may in themselves destroy life. Light is pleasant, it spreads a halo of beauty and glory around the face of nature. The eye is never satisfied with the revelations which are made through its medium. Yet let that light, which thus spreads beauty around, fall upon the eye in the concentrated form of a ray from the meridian sun, and the power of vision is impaired, if not totally destroyed. The same is true of mental emotion. How the mind operates upon the body we cannot tell. But that the emotions of the mind do affect the body is universally admitted. Death from surprise, from fright, from terror, from all the depressing passions, has been by no means uncommon. In the every-day walks of life, who has not known of a case like this? A beloved son has left the home of fond parents to engage in commercial pursuits, or visit some distant place. By various causes his stay is prolonged, until at last the tidings reach his parents that he was wrecked off some rocky coast; or, that he perished in a fatal epidemic. They mourn for him as one that is lost; and they think of him only as in the spirit world. Years pass away, and though strangely preserved, his parents are not aware of his existence. He starts for home. Already he stands upon the hill that overlooks the scenes of his boyhood; the house, and trees, and shrubs, all stand as when he left; his heart exults at the thought of embracing his parents, and, thoughtless as to consequences, he hastily approaches. He opens the door. His mother gazes at him but a moment, cries, "My son, my son," throws her arms fondly around his neck, and swoons away in his arms. And instances have occurred, in which, from that swoon, there has been no recovery. History informs us that, in the time of the great South Sea speculation in England, many, overjoyed by their success, became insane. At the restoration of Charles II., a number of the nobility were so affected by the recovery of their titles and estates, that they became diseased, and in a short time died. Leo X., one of the most renowned occupants of the Papal chair, was so rejoiced by a victory somewhat unexpectedly gained over his enemies, that he sunk beneath the excitement. The heir of Leibnitz, the celebrated mathematician, on finding that a chest, filled as he supposed with paper, contained a large quantity of gold, became so excited by the discovery, that he was seized with a fatal disease of the heart. If such, then, be the influence of joyful emotions, when arising from temporal subjects, will the effect be diminished by adding the revelation of the unseen and eternal? Can emotions excited by the view of the majesty, holiness, wisdom, and compassion of the eternal Jehovah be less strong than those excited by considering a small portion of the work of His hands?As a general inference from this subject, we may notice what a sublime view is thus presented of the revelation contained in the Word of God.

1. It is a system of truth, in which, directly or indirectly, each separate truth leads to the great commanding truth of the being and attributes of God. This is the substance of revelation; God displayed in creation, in government, and in mercy to man. All other statements are but as secondaries revolving around their primary. The greatest minds may here be for ever engaged; but, like the parallel lines of the mathematician, there may be eternal approximation without perfect attainment.

2. But revelation is not merely a system of sublime truth. It is truth so presented as to affect our sensitive nature. It is not abstract speculation alone that is employed; our affections, our sympathies, are all enlisted. It is a system intended to operate upon man.(1) It operates by presenting the grand, the lofty, the majestic attributes of the Divine character.(2) It operates by inspiring man with what is termed, technically, the sympathic emotion of virtue. The performance of a brave, a noble, a patriotic, or a virtuous act, makes us desire to do the same. And when God reveals Himself as a God of mercy, employing His omnipotence in acts of compassion, there is a voice that whispers to the heart through every such manifestation, "Be ye merciful, even as I am merciful."(3) It operates by exciting gratitude and joy for personal salvation — for pardon, for regeneration, and for adoption into the family of the Most High. The grateful soul is ready to exclaim, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me! .... What am I, and what is my Father's house," that I should thus be the subject of Divine love!(4) A fourth effect of such revelation is, that the soul desires to dwell constantly as in the presence of God. In Him is all fulness — the treasures of wisdom and knowledge for the intellect, of grace and mercy for the soul. The world diminishes in value; eternity, with all its spiritual blessedness, gradually unfolds before the moral vision.

3. That such are the effects of the manifestation of God's mercy, we are further warranted in believing from the history of distinguished individuals. Moses, when the name of the Lord was proclaimed before him, and His goodness passed before him, "made haste and bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped." He adored and reverenced. And such was the influence of the manifestations he received, that his face shone with such glory that the people could not look upon him unveiled; or, in other words, the manifestations of goodness and of glory were carried to the utmost possible point at which his usefulness to the people of Israel could remain. When Daniel was showed in prophetic vision the return of the captive Jews, and when the succession of empire was revealed, and things that should happen in the latter days, he says, "There remained no strength in me"; and before he was able to hear the whole prediction the angel touched him to strengthen him. On the mount of transfiguration the disciples were so overwhelmed that "they knew not what they said," or did not fully see the impropriety of their request, and yet were so enchanted that they said, "Master, it is good for us to be here."

4. What an unfailing source of comfort and joy is opened for the Christian in the revelation which God hath given! His joy is not of this world, it is in God. The world may change, but God changeth not. God's glory never faileth — the Christian's spring of happiness never runs dry. It is a river of mercy, a river of grace, and he that drinketh of its water needs never thirst again for the turbid streams of earthly joy.

5. If then the effect of the manifestation of God's mercy and love be to elevate, to ennoble, and to rejoice the heart of man, why should not our minds dwell upon the Divine character? Christianity alone offers man knowledge and joy which can perfectly fill his expansive capacity, and for that knowledge and that grace unceasing effort should be made, and ceaseless prayer offered to the Most High. For this we may come boldly to the throne of grace.

6. And if the limit of manifestation of mercy is found in the circumstances of the creature and not in God, who shall attempt to say what glorious enjoyment awaits the celestial citizen?

7. Does it seem unreasonable that when life is about to be over, the Deity should withdraw His hand, and let such a view of His glory upon the mind, that the physical frame shall fall, and the unfettered spirit rise to the full enjoyment of beatific love?

(M. Simpson, D. D.)

I. THE REQUEST OF MAN.

1. That man, as man, naturally looks for some special display of the Divine presence and attributes.

2. That man, as a sinner, needs an expression of God's readiness to forgive.

II. THE RESPONSE OF GOD.

1. That there are limitations to a full revelation of His glory.

(1)Human capacity and preparation.
(a) The bodily senses.
(b) The mind.

(2)The Divine pleasure.

2. That within these limitations there is given an abundant revelation.

3. That the brightest feature of the revelation is Divine love.

4. That from what we now behold, we are led to expect a still more glorious revelation hereafter.

(B. Dale, M. A.)

Homilist.
1. That God raises human society by the ministry of individual men.

2. That the individual man by whom He raises society, He qualifies by a close fellowship with Himself.

I. THE PROFOUNDEST CRAVINGS OF THE SOUL. "Show me Thy glory."

1. This craving explains the existence of polytheism.

2. This craving implies a supreme existence.

3. This craving renders the prevalence of atheism impossible.

4. This craving reveals the grand distinction of human nature.

II. THE GRANDEST REVELATIONS OF GOD. "I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee."

1. The revelation of moral character.

2. The revelation of the sublimest moral character.

(1)Absolute love.

(2)Compassionate love.

(3)Sovereign love.

III. THE NECESSARY IGNORANCE OF MAN. "Thou canst not see My face," etc.

(Homilist.)

I. THE IMMEDIATE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH PRECEDED THE PRAYER.

II. THE PRAYER ITSELF. "Show me Thy glory." It is clear from the context that he meant, Unveil Thyself to my vision; let me see Thy essential majesty and splendour; remove all obscurity from my vision. We have to observe here —

1. The imperfection of the best saints. Imperfect in knowledge and judgment; fallible in our desires and devotions.

2. The beneficence and care of God for His people. Not only in giving, but in withholding. How important to ask according to His will. To refer all to His wisdom and love, and in everything to be able to say, "He hath done all things well."

III. THE ANSWER RETURNED.

1. The literal request was mercifully refused.

2. The spirit of the prayer was graciously answered.Application:

1. Learn the lofty eminence to which true piety exalts a man. Intercourse with heaven.

2. The true breathings of the devout soul. "Show me Thy glory." Everything else is tinsel.

3. A perfect acquaintance with God's goodness is offered us in the gospel. "Oh, taste and see," etc.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

Theological Sketchbook.
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY GOD'S GLORY, WHICH THE CHRISTIAN DESIRES TO SEE

1. It is glory, in His gracious conduct to sinners, in and through His Son.

2. It is His glory, as manifested to the soul in pardoning mercy and love.

3. It is His glory, as manifested to the soul, making him a partaker of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

II. WHERE DOES THE REAL CHRISTIAN WISH TO SEE THE GLORY OF GOD?

1. In all His ordinances in this world, especially in the assembly of the saints.

2. Much of God's glory is here to be seen. The glory of His wisdom, in devising the scheme of redemption, etc.

3. How glorious is the discovery here made of His justice and holiness, in the satisfaction made for sin by the death of His Son.

4. Here Divine grace is to be seen in its brightest lustre. In its

(1)freeness,

(2)condescension,

(3)sovereignty,

(4)riches.

5. Here is displayed the glory of God's faithfulness to His promises.

6. The Christian desires to see the glory of God above (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2).

III. WHY DOES THE CHRISTIAN DESIRE TO SEE HIS GLORY?

1. He desires to see it in His ordinances here because

(1)The glory of God is transforming.

(2)It is reviving.

2. He wishes to see this glory in heaven, because it will there be(1) most clear and full;(2) most satisfying;

(3)permanent and everlasting.

(Theological Sketchbook.)

I. THAT THE DESIRES OF RELIGION INTENSIFY WITH ITS GROWTH.

1. The more grace Moses found, the more he sought.

2. To surfeit, not to satisfy, is the nature of earthly good.

3. But here is satisfaction without surfeit.

II. THAT CHRIST IS THE MEDIUM OF DIVINE MANIFESTATION.

1. The rock was an emblem of Christ.

2. Here God revealed Himself to Moses.

3. Man in Christ sees God and lives.

III. THAT DIVINE VISIONS ARE ATTENDED WITH GRACIOUS EFFECTS.

1. Life is imparted by them.

2. Devotion is kindled by them.

3. Spiritual vigour is imparted by them.

4. Moral influence is gained in them.

(J. A. Macdonald, M. A.)

I. AND WHAT DID MOSES ASK FOR? What was the desire of his heart? His prayer was, "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory." But, it may be said, had not Moses, on various occasions, seen the glory of God? The more of these heavenly treasures we possess, the more highly do we prize them, and the more eagerly do we seek for an increase. These are things that never deceive, never disappoint, never cloy. Our experience of them convinces us that they are solid, substantial, satisfactory. The capacity of the soul is expanded, and we are prepared for larger communications of purity and love. And they who have made the highest attainments in the Christian life, and have experienced most largely the efficacy of the Redeemer's all purifying blood, will be found to be most anxious to rise still higher in spiritual blessings.

II. GOD'S REPLY TO THE REQUEST PREFERRED BY MOSES.

III. BUT WE HAVE TO OBSERVE, THAT THE DISPLAYS OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS ARE MADE ONLY ACCORDING TO GOD'S OWN WILL. And. what is the character of these to whom the mercy of Jehovah will be extended? The penitent, the humble, the meek, the lowly.

IV. WE OBSERVE, THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN DISPLAYS OF THE DIVINE GLORY, WHICH ARE GRANTED TO GOD'S BELIEVING PEOPLE HERE BELOW, ON EARTH. A partial, indistinct, and necessarily defective view — a glimpse at the heavenly glory — a transient exhibition of the Divine excellence. And even before this was granted to Moses, a certain process was necessary: he must be duly prepared.

V. STILL IT MUST BE GRANTED, THAT THE MOST EMINENT AND MOST DELIGHTFUL DISPLAYS OF THE DIVINE GLORY ARE RESERVED FOR THE HEAVENLY WORLD. The eye of the disembodied spirit will be strengthened and fitted to gaze, with a steady and direct view, on the uncreated Sun.

(W. P. Burgess, D. D.)

I. WHEN CHRISTIANS THEN, DESIRE TO SEE THE GLORY OF GOD, IT SEEMS CHIEFLY TO IMPLY THE FOLLOWING THINGS.

1. They desire to see the glory of an eternal independent God; they desire to see the only living and true God in His own inherent excellence and infinite perfection.(1) That there is in the fulness of the Godhead an infinite and endless variety even for the employment of our intellectual powers.(2) That the real and proper knowledge of the glory of God is by inward and spiritual illumination.

2. That the believer desires to see the glory of a gracious and reconciled God, not only infinitely glorious in Himself, but infinitely merciful to him. This view ought never to be separated from the former. Take away the Divine mercy, and the lustre of His other perfections is too strong for us to behold.

3. The believer desires to see the glory of God as an all-sufficient God.(1) When the believer sees the fulness of God, then his anxiety, and distressing fears of every kind, are at an end. Does he want provision? "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." Does he want friends? God is able to make his enemies to be at peace with him.(2) I shall only add that the Divine all-sufficiency is to be considered as regarding our sanctification as well as comfort. And what courage does he derive from the fulness of Divine protection, the greatness of Divine power, and the faithfulness of the Divine promise!

II. I proceed NOW TO MAKE SOME PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT OF WHAT HATH BEEN SAID. And —

1. Let us admire the Divine condescension in admitting His saints to a discovery of His glory.

2. Let me beseech you to try yourselves whether this ever hath been your attainment, and whether it is your sincere desire.

3. I exhort you, in the most earnest manner, to diligence in seeking after real communion with God in His instituted worship. How highly are we favoured with light and liberty! How little are many sensible of their privileges!

III. I conclude by offering to those who would see the glory of God A FEW DIRECTIONS AS TO THE BEST PREPARATION FOR SUCH A DISCOVERY.

1. If you would see the glory of God in His sanctuary, be serious in self-examination and the renunciation of all known sin. Holiness is an essential attribute of the Divine nature; and, therefore, He must be worshipped in the beauty of holiness.

2. In order to see the glory of God you must be clothed with humility (Isaiah 66:2).

3. In the last place; if you desire to see the glory of God, be fervent in preparatory prayer: if there is any blessing that requires importunity and wrestling with God, surely this high and happy privilege of communion with Him in His house must be of that kind.

(J. Witherspoon.)

I. WHAT A CHILD OF GOD MAY HAVE HIS EYE TO WHEN DESIRING TO SEE GOD'S GLORY.

II. WHERE WOULD A SAINT SEE THE GLORY OF GOD OR HAVE IT SHOWN TO HIM?

1. In many ordinances here. Where God records His name (Exodus 20:24).(1) The glory of His wisdom in contriving a way how heaven and earth might be reconciled, notwithstanding the wide breach made by sin; and how the seeming contrary pleas of God's attributes might be adjusted.(2) Here Divine grace is to be seen in its brightest lustre: in its freeness, pitying us without merit or motive, and against the highest provocation: in its condescension, pitching upon us, and resolving to save us, how unworthy soever: in its sovereignty, passing by angels, and providing a Saviour for men: in its riches.(3) Here is displayed the glory of God's faithfulness to His promises, and willingness to promote His people's comfort.

2. A saint desires to see the glory of God in the state above, and without need of these present ordinances, even in heaven.

III. WHY THEY DESIRE THIS.

1. In ordinances here they desire this.

(1)Because the glory of God is transforming.

(2)The glory of God thus shown to His people is most reviving.

2. And as to heaven, the people of God desire, He would there show them His glory, and eminently —

(1)Because it will be most clear and full.

(2)The glory to be revealed above will be most satisfying.

(3)The manifestation there made will be permanent and everlasting.

IV. THIS DESIRE THEY ARE TO OFFER UP IN PRAYER TO GOD. Desire is the life of prayer, and this is to be made known by way of request to God.

1. To testify our value for it. They that esteem it a favour to see God's glory, are to show this by seeking after it.

2. 'Tis God only that can show us His glory, and make us to see it; that can fit us for the favour, and then vouchsafe it to us. Is this glory wont to be revealed and displayed in ordinances? make this your end in attending upon them to see it.

(1)Get into a state of peace and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ; such only as are so are capable of beholding His glory.

(2)Desire and pray for some sight of this glory.

(D. Wilcox.)

I. Consider, first, His NATURAL attributes.

1. God is self-existent. All other beings are created, and created by Him. He is the great Parent of existence.

2. Reflect next upon His omnipresence. He fills heaven and earth.

3. Survey His power. He is almighty and can do everything. He can act without agents or instruments. All other beings, animate or inanimate, are but His instruments to fulfil His will.

4. View, lastly, the immeasurable extent of His bounty. All creatures in earth and heaven are replenished out of the storehouse of His beneficence.

II. But the glory of God derived from what may be termed, by way of distinction, His natural attributes, is NOT THE HIGHEST DESCRIPTION OF HIS GLORY, or even that in which it properly consists.

1. His goodness. The goodness of God is that attribute by which all His other perfections are directed to the best possible end. It is that which renders His wisdom, power, and presence, not only not dangerous, but in a supreme degree beneficial, to the whole creation.

2. But the holiness of God forms another principal feature in His glory. He "will by no means clear the guilty."

3. But is justice also a modification of goodness? Justice towards some is the security of all. Were an indiscriminate mercy to be shown to all, sin would prevail, and soon prostrate the mercy of God, and efface from the universe every trace of His goodness.

(J. Venn, M. A.)

I. Let us consider WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE GLORY OF GOD. The glory of any moral agent is that intrinsic moral excellence which renders him worthy of approbation and esteem. This is never seated in the understanding, but in the heart. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; and as God thinketh in His heart, so is He. God is love. And in this consists His real, intrinsic, supreme, moral excellence and glory.

II. To consider WHAT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY GOD'S DISPLAYING ALL HIS GOODNESS. His promise to Moses is very singular and very significant. "I will make all My goodness pass before thee." That God may display all His goodness, He must do two things.

1. He must display His goodness to as high a degree as possible.

2. God's displaying all His goodness farther implies His displaying it in all its branches, and agreeably to the various natures and characters of His dependent creatures. In particular —(1) It implies displaying His benevolence towards all sensitive natures.(2) In order to display all His goodness, God must display His complacency towards all holy beings. The goodness of the Deity naturally and necessarily inclines Him to love goodness, wherever He sees it.(3) Another branch of Divine goodness is grace towards the guilty and ill-deserving. Such a display of Divine grace is absolutely necessary, in order to give a full display of Divine goodness. It must be observed —(4) That another branch of God's goodness is distributive justice, or a disposition to punish impenitent sinners according to their deeds.

III. THAT GOD, BY THUS DISPLAYING ALL HIS GOODNESS, NECESSARILY DISPLAYS ALL HIS GLORY. But the truth of this will more fully appear if we consider —

1. That when God displays all His goodness, He displays all His moral character. The Supreme Being has no moral excellence but what is included in His goodness. God is love; all His goodness consists in love; all His love lies in His heart; and His heart is the seat of all His moral excellence.

2. When God displays all His goodness, He necessarily displays all His natural as well as moral excellence. But all these natural attributes derive their real glory from His goodness, without which they would be a blemish rather than a beauty in His character.Inferences:

1. If God be a being who possesses and displays perfect goodness, then the religion which He has required of mankind is a reasonable service.

2. If God must display His goodness in order to display His glory, then by seeking His own glory He must necessarily seek the good of His creatures.

3. If God cannot display all His glory without displaying all His goodness, then the glory of God required the existence of natural and moral evil. All the goodness of God in all its branches could not have been displayed if natural and moral evil had not existed.

4. If the supreme glory of God consists in His goodness, then those who love any part of His character must necessarily love the whole.

5. If the supreme glory of God consists in His goodness, then those who dislike any part of the Divine character must necessarily dislike the whole.

6. If the goodness of God forms His whole moral character, then those who do not love Him supremely must necessarily hate Him supremely.

7. Does the glory of God consist in His goodness, or in His feeling properly towards all His creatures of every character?

8. If the glory of God consists in His goodness, then a clear view of His goodness would destroy all the false hopes of sinners respecting their good estate.

9. If the glory of God consists in His goodness, then we learn why sinners are represented as blind to His glory. They must feel as He does, in order to have a moral view of His moral excellence.

10. If God's glory essentially consists in His goodness, then those who have seen His real glory in the least degree will desire to see more and more of it. This appears from the nature of spiritual discoveries, which afford peculiar satisfaction to those to whom they are made.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. THAT THERE IS IN THE DIVINE NATURE AN INTERIOR AND HIDDEN GLORY WHICH CANNOT BE REVEALED. The word glory is a large and comprehensive term, including all that is ineffably great and lovely in the Divine essence. This glory is everywhere revealed. The glory of God is not to be looked upon as something separate and distinct from His nature; but rather that nature in the sum and fulness of its perfection. And as His being is past finding out, so is His glory above the heavens.

II. THAT THE SUBLIMEST MANIFESTATION WHICH GOD HAS MADE OF HIS GLORY IS IN CONNECTION WITH THE GREAT REMEDIAL SCHEME OF MAN'S REDEMPTION. It matters little whether we conceive of God as light, or life, or love. It is the light which reveals the life, and it is the life which expresses itself in the love. If God be love, then the highest manifestation of this love must be regarded as the highest revelation of His glory. It is the infinite and ineffable benignity of the Divine nature which renders its glory so engaging and attractive. Light is blended with love — greatness is inseparable from goodness — majesty is mellowed and modified by mercy. The Cross exhibits the only ground on which God and man can ever meet. If the Divinity has never inhabited humanity, man can never rise into communion with God. If the necessary and all-effective means do not exist for impressing His image upon us while we are on the earth, we can never see His face in heaven. To behold His glory we must partake His purity.

III. THAT NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REVELATION WHICH GOD HAS MADE OF HIMSELF, THEY ARE THE PURER AND THE LOFTIER SPIRITS AMONGST US WHICH ARE FAVOURED WITH THE MORE SPECIAL MANIFESTATIONS OF DIVINE GLORY. We assert it without fear of contradiction, that even Nature herself will withhold all her higher and more glorious revelations unless there be a correspondence or likeness between her own spirit and the spirit of those who would commune with her. So in the intercourse between mind and mind. In like manner God never reveals Himself in the depth of His glory to any man, till the man has first yielded his whole nature to the purifying and transforming power of the Spirit, and has thus taken on higher degrees of moral purity and perfection. It is only the pure in heart that can see God. As the Jew had his outward ceremonial ablutions, the Christian should have his inward spiritual purifications. An external reformation does not necessarily imply an internal renovation; but if the inner man is renewed and sanctified, the outer man must exhibit the effects of the change. We must be cleansed both in the flesh and in the spirit.

IV. THAT THESE DEEPER MANIFESTATIONS OF DIVINE GLORY ARE NOT GIVEN AS MERE FRUITLESS EXHIBITIONS, BUT TO QUICKEN THE LOVE AND TO INCREASE THE DEVOTEDNESS OF THOSE TO WHOM THEY ARE IMPARTED. The heart-throbs of piety have their expression in a life of enlightened and cheerful activity. We have each a work to do in the world, and for God; and to do it as the work of God ought to be done, we need not only the symbols of His presence and love, but the baptism of His Spirit — the plenitude of light and the fulness of grace.

V. THAT THE REVELATION OF THIS GLORY IN THE WORLD TO COME WILL FOR EVER FIX THE ATTENTION, AND HEIGHTEN THE RAPTURE, AND ENERGIZE THE ACTIVITY OF THE INHABITANTS OF THAT BLESSED STATE. The brighter and the fuller the revelation, the more profound and fixed will be our attention. Every thought will be captivated, every emotion will be stirred, and the joy of the soul will rise into rapture, heightened and perpetuated for ever.

(R. Ferguson, LL. D.)

Come, and behold in this communication, asked for and obtained by Moses —

1. The crown of the Old Covenant.

2. The mirror of the New.

3. The promise and prediction that God's glory, in its fulness, would in future be revealed.

1. The festive shouts that Israel raised in honour of the idol they first made are silent now, and the avenging sword, at Moses' prayer, is now averted from the nation's head. Only three thousand sinners have endured the righteous punishment deserved by many more — by nearly all. Moses feels himself, at last, no longer able to restrain his wish for further light: he prays the Lord to show whom He will send, and what He means to do with a nation that is still His own. Moses further states, most positively, that he would prefer to go no farther, than remain without the guidance of the Lord Himself; then, filled with joy and with astonishment, the man of God essays to take one further step, and gives expression to his heart's wish in the prayer, "Show me now Thy glory." Who shall determine what it was that Moses understood, and felt, and wished, when he employed these words? We know, of course, that ere this time he had seen much more of God's glory than all other men. The bush that burned, and yet was not consumed; the Red Sea moved out from its bed; the manna rained down from above; the arid rock changed to a source of living streams! Alone, upon the top of Sinai, and amidst most dreadful signs, he had received the law of God; moreover, with the elders of the Israelites, he had beheld the pavement which the King of Israel laid for the palace where He sits enthroned — what seemed transparent sapphire-stone (Exodus 24:9, 10). What more is it that this insatiable, this high-minded servant of the Lord desires? The Lord Himself gives answer to the question, when He (ver. 20) in so many words declares, "My face cannot be seen." That is to say, Moses has hitherto but heard the voice of Him that spake out of the cloud; now he beseeches that the veil of mystery shall be removed, and that he may be shown the face of God, beaming with heavenly light. Say not that this request comes from a narrow mind; above all, do not say that it is unbecoming and irreverent. It was the very multitude of promises which he had just received that gave him all the greater boldness to ask more, and to express a bold desire that long had slumbered in his pious soul. Up till this time the angels had been called to mediate between him and the Lord; but now he would approach the Lord directly and immediately. One aspect of that nature Moses has already looked upon, when he received the law; but he thinks there are still other aspects, hitherto concealed from him, and his spirit cannot rest till he has also looked on these. It certainly may be impossible to gratify the wish of Moses to the full. What mortal would be able to behold the face of God, and yet not be immediately consumed by the intensity of glory there revealed? Nevertheless, as far as possible, at least the spirit of this pious prayer shall be observed, though Moses shall not find it literally fulfilled. Not God's face in itself, but only the last fold seen in His royal mantle — such is the most, the only thing that He can show to any creature upon whom He will confer the highest privilege! Thus there is pointed out once more, not merely the unlawfulness, but also the absurdity of the idolatry of which the Israelites had just been guilty. The Lord Himself, by His free grace, seeks to restore the broken covenant, and to reveal Himself towards the mediator of the Old Covenant not merely as the Great Invisible, but as a God in whom compassion flows. Imagine the emotion of the man of God, and how he must have watched throughout the sleepless night for the expected hour! On Sinai, at the bush, Moses was taught to view Jehovah as the Infinite; at the giving of the Law, as the God of spotless holiness; but here, moreover, as the God of everlasting mercy. This revelation forms the bond by which God joins Himself once more to Israel; and unto Moses, as a compensation for the fact that his most earnest prayer has not been answered to the letter, there is promised the fulfilment of his earlier request — that the Lord Himself will go with the nation. Moses desires to see; but God desires, above all things, to make him hear and follow Him. But what he now hears is the grandest revelation ever made by God under the Old Economy. Truly, there is no wonder, then, that Moses tarries other forty days upon the mountain-top in heavenly ecstasy; and that his countenance beams forth with heavenly glory, when, bearing in his hands two tables made of stone, the pledge of the renewal of God's promises, he leaves the consecrated ground. Happy Moses, unto whom, at least on one occasion, it was granted, even on this side of the grave, to contemplate to such a large extent the glory of the Lord!

2. Happy Moses: are these words found on your lips too? Then surely you will joy when you remember that the privilege, accorded in those days to him, is equally attainable by every Christian now. Come, give us your attention still, while, in the revelation, viewed already as the crown and glory of the Old Economy, we also let you see the mirror of the blessings of the New. The glory of the Lord is shown us in another way, but with no less of clearness than before. Is this too strong a statement? Only look to the person of the Redeemer, the work of redemption, the guidance of the redeemed; and then see whether you have any ground for feeling envy towards Moses in his privilege. "Show me Thy glory!" It was more than a mere personal want to which Moses gave expression in this prayer. It was the wish that lived, consciously or unconsciously, within the heart of multitudes, in whose eyes this whole earth, with all its glory, was too poor and small to satisfy the deepest wish felt by the longing heart. Men felt that God — yes, God Himself — must needs appear on earth, if earth were to become a gate of heaven. "Oh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow at Thy presence!" — such was the strong expression of the feeling in the prophet's heart (Isaiah 64:1). And lo! the heavens did open when the fulness of the time had come: "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). He who is very God was manifested in our human flesh: but what is here shown to Moses, viz., that God is a Spirit, God is Light, God is Love — how plainly may we read this in the Gospel, as if written there in heavenly characters, when we look to the revelation of God's glory in the Son of His love! "No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). How God's unspotted holiness beams towards you, in Him who well can ask a friend and foe, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46) who always sees the Father, just because He ever does what is well-pleasing in His eyes; who prays without ceasing, but in no case for the forgiveness of His own sins; and who awaits His being glorified, not as a favour, but an undisputed right! And the love of God: — but where shall I find words with which I may describe the love of Christ, Divine in origin and splendour, but a splendour which is tempered by its covering — a lowly, human form? But that glory does not shine forth from His works alone, nor does it merely manifest itself in what He says; it beams upon us from the splendour seen in His whole mien. And that appearance, too, exhibits as calm majesty as God does when He shows Himself to Moses here: He does not cry, nor raise His voice, nor cause it to be heard in the streets; but when we look on Him, we feel like Moses when the cloud passed by before his eyes; surely we see in Him more than the hinder portion of the royal train — we see God's greatness in the face of Him who was God of God and Light of Light, whereunto no man can approach, but who has yet come near and lived in humble servant-guise. If here the revelation given by God is made to Moses only, it is now, in Christ, bestowed upon the poorest whom the Holy Ghost has taught to see the Father in the Son. If here, through Moses, God reveals His nature to one single people, now the light arises over all the nations that but sat in the darkness heretofore; for here, "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11). And how much more impressively that voice sounds when we venture on a second step, and meditate on God's redeeming work! What is the sin which, in God's eyes, polluted Israel, compared with the abominable sins which stand against a whole lost world — against you and me — before the God of unspotted holiness? We all deserved that God should turn away His friendly countenance from us, as from that people; and that He should not guide us by an angel, but, instead, give us the portion of the fallen ones. And yet, what is even the assurance of God's pity and His grace that Moses learned, when we compare it with the matchless fact that the Beloved of the Father dies for His worst enemies, and that God in Him not merely shows us heaven opened, but unlocks to us the heaven we forfeited? It is just here especially that we, no less than Moses, fail in finding words with which we can express our thoughts; but this we feel, that, louder far than anywhere besides on earth, the voice out of the cloud is found re-echoed from the cross. Now let us take one other look at the guidance of the redeemed, who, like Moses, found favour in the sight of God. Does it need much to show that, in this too, the glory of the Lord is seen almost at every step? But ye who are the Lord's redeemed have an experience that speaks more strongly still; for not merely do ye live by His long-suffering, but ye continue in His favour and in fellowship with Him; and ye learn by experience, like Moses, that He never puts to shame or pours contempt upon the humble prayer of faith. And surely you, too, know full many a spot, as Moses did the crevice in the rock, where you sit gladly down, there to review the way by which the Lord, in His eternal faithfulness, has thus far been conducting you? I hear you say already that the sum of your inquiries is comprised in this: the voice out of the cloud has been the voice addressed to me through all my life on earth!

3. The festive time of Moses' life becomes, lastly, to us a prophecy of the future revelation of God's eternal glory. "When you, like Moses, must depart, you should not fail in making the acknowledgment that you have seen, at least in some degree, the glory of the Lord. But that something, though we had the power to multiply it even a thousand-fold, what is it when compared with the far greater, the entire amount of what believing hearts desire? Our deepest need, our highest blessedness is, not to hear the voice of God, but to behold the Lord Himself; but that is just the very wish denied us here on earth, even as in Moses' case. Nay, more; we do not even stand, like Moses, on the top; we dwell, like Israel, scattered in tents at the foot of the mount of God's glory. "We walk by faith, not by sight": such is the motto of the New as well as of the Old Economy; and it is well for us that this grand principle is never modified. How should we ever be prepared for heaven if, in this life, the school of faith were now already closed? And what surprise of pleasure could the future bring us, if this day or yesterday beheld each enigma sufficiently explained? "How very little after all is it that I have seen!" must Moses frequently have said when he looked back upon that morning. We hope for the salvation of the Lord, but how wide the difference between the living hope and the desired enjoyment! We have moments of presentiment, of spiritual intercourse, of (I might almost say) immediate contact between the Eternal Spirit and our own; and at such times a voice comes whispering, "Thus shalt thou see hereafter." Yet something always intervenes between this heart of ours and God; He lays a covering hand upon the eyes of His most faithful worshippers, that they may not yet fully see the truth; nevertheless, they make their own conjectures with regard to it, they constantly draw nearer it, and almost seem to grasp it with their hands while they engage in prayer. So is it here; so must it be on earth; but so it will not always be. With God's hand laid upon our eyes, we grope along for days or years in deepest gloom until we reach death's vale .... then the Lord passes by before us, while the chilly breath of him who is the King of Terrors blows upon our face. "Show me now Thy glory": thus faith entreats with almost faltering lips; and never, God be thanked, did Heaven continue silent at the last prayer breathed on earth. The Lord, as it were, makes all His goodness pass once more before His dying friends, since "He is truly gracious towards those to whom He is gracious." More closely than at any time before does He approach, while He proclaims His name before us,... then He lifts His covering hand from off our eyes, and lo, we see! Come, follow me a little longer, while, in closing, we address three questions to your heart and conscience.

1. Have you, too, ever yet desired what Moses sought so eagerly? Ah! if each one of you were plainly asked, What is your chief desire? how many, nay, how few, Lord, could lay their hand upon their heart and say, I desire nothing more earnestly than living, personal communion with God! Perhaps, indeed, an evanescent wish for something higher, better, may not be unknown to many here, especially when earthly things bring disappointment, and the future is concealed from sight. And when some-times — although, of course, we are unwilling to believe this true of every one of you — the soul's necessities assert themselves, and that soul has begun to cry for God, oh, what a constant tendency there is to seek peace where it cannot possibly be found; how every kind of artifice is tried to smother heart and conscience when they cry; how frequently, like Israel at the foot of Sinai, we sit down smitten, chastised, and stripped of all that formerly adorned us, but without true penitence, without true longing after God!

2. Have you, too, already seen what Moses saw? There is no doubt of that, if you have really, by faith, beheld the Christ of God; but, on the other hand, how many are there here at whom the Lord can ask, as once at Philip, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?" Or are there not those who are carried off by a most fatal spirit of the times, and who will not believe what they do not first understand? If you indeed desire that such a witness shall apply at least to you, do not forget that you, like Moses, must especially concern yourself with these three things — a clear eye, a pure heart, and constant prayer. The eye of faith is the organ of the soul, by which we see the glory of the Lord in Christ; and He Himself must open that for us. One little speck of dust may cause such floods of tears as to conceal the sun from you; the dust of earth but hurts the eye that would behold the glory of the Lord! Oh, how much of the carnal still remains in us to be destroyed, in order that the spirit may be truly fit for even the least amount of living fellowship with God! Like Moses, keep that festive season of your inner life in constant memory; and if Heaven hears your thanksgiving, let earth enjoy its fruits!

3. Have you already done what Moses did? The sequel of the history informs you of the earlier, but also of the later influence of what was now revealed. Bowing in deepest reverence, and well assured that he has found grace in the sight of God, the mediator of the Old Covenant repeats the prayer, "Let the Lord, I beseech thee, go among us, for this is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance" (Exodus 34:9). Oh, What a glorious, but also blessed, calling to be like the man of God in this point too! Does it not strike you how, in pleading here for Israel, he does not speak of their sins, but of ours, and puts himself upon a level with those rebels? Now, it is true, we must, like him, descend the mount and enter the dark vale; but what is it that we can need, if but we have the Lord with us, and our whole nature, like His shining face, gives evidence of our close, friendly intercourse with God? Even as He veiled that strange, mysterious lustre from the eyes of Israel, we too must often hide, from an unholy world, the blessed mystery of our own inner life; but when we go into the solitude, and there approach God's throne of grace, how priceless is this privilege, that we believers may, like Moses, cast off every covering, and then find our refreshing in His kindly light.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

It was a daring prayer offered by when he said, "Lord, hast Thou declared that no man shall see Thy face and live? — then let me die, that I may see Thee!"

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