Ancient rabbinic commentary in attempting to convey to faithful adherents of the God of Abraham and Sari, who are known and often reverently referred to as the earthly parents and founder of our faith providing and giving us a term that sought to convey the grandeur and glory of God.
Such an undertaking and task was and is of monumental importance, in attempting to put into words, and terms which would convey an understanding of just a portion of the awesome nature of the Creator, that we the created creatures of the Creator can understand and comprehend.
The ancient Hebrews had no name, in a personal sense for God, what does the first Commandment warn people not to do?
“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD, your God, for the LORD will not Acquit any one who misuses God’s name…”(Exodus 20:7)
When Moses asked “…whom shall I say send me, when the people ask?” YHWh replies, “I am who I am,” adding “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you…” (Exodus 3:14)
God does go further to emphasize God’s earlier relationship with their ancestors and says additionally to Moses;
“Say to the Israelites, the LORD, the God of your fathers-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:15)
We like casual and informal as much as we can in our lives, and that’s alright, but we are to have a more reverent understanding and relationship with and towards God.
There is at the same time more and less, in our relationship, understanding and approach to God. Why is this important, because how we live should and ought to honor the LORD. So yes we can take our prayers directly to God, in Psalm 86, the psalmist declares;
“Teach me your ways, O LORD and I will walk in Your truth. Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you O LORD my God, with all my heart; I will greatly glorify your name forever.” (Psalm 86:10-12)
So, it is very important how we live our life as confessed baptized believers of Christ Jesus live our lives. Do we under the glory, the presence, promise and the love of God?
God loves us, God want s to be not just in a relationship with us, but ever-present in our live and living, knowing we are going to experience great joy, as well as days of great pain and anguish. In the Exodus text of today Moses was leading God’s people now out of the house of slavery in Egypt, and towards a land promised to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
There was the debacle of the golden calf, they demanded Aaron make for them as they grew nervous and antsy while awaiting Moses’ return from God, with the Ten Commandments.
Moses has had to do some serious mediating and advocating for the Israelites, and reminding God that these are God’s people, not Moses’ and it was God’s acts and actions that sent Moses back to Egypt to free these people. Let’s read some prologues to Scriptural text of today…
Verse 1: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oathd to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants…” Now let us read a more troubling directive from God, concerning what God is pondering, verse 2
I will send an angelf before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites…” It continues; “But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-neckedi people and I might destroyj you on the way.” 4 When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mournk and no one put on any ornaments. 5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people.l If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroym you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’ ” 6 So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.”
Stiff-Necked, stubborn untractable spirit of a people not responsive to the guiding of their God. In other words a people more intent upon establishing and following their will first, then and maybe then only following God’s will!
As people with our free-will and volition we oftentimes want things our way, and not be under the guidance or will of others, even God, and remember in this instance the Israelites had been under total Egyptian rule for over 400 years, they were somewhat if not totally lax in both their worship and obedience to God.
And recall God’s first concern and demand given to Moses to give to Pharaoh, was to let the Israelites remove themselves, to go into the wilderness for three days and three nights to rededicate themselves to their Covenant with God. For over time, their joyful obedience and dedication to God had diminished.
But when God shook the mountains on their behalf, when great bright and terrifying lighting flashed, deep rumbling thunder roared, when God split the rocks, parted the Red Sea, when the people witnessed mighty and majestic feats, they then had felt, seen and experienced the forceful powerful presence of God in their midst, also by the pillar of cloud during the day, and pillar of fire at night that led them and separated and protected them as they journeyed in the wilderness towards their promised land.
So God wants to ponder, God has some doubt as to if indeed these people can for all times be God’s people to tell the entire world there is only one Almighty, one Everlasting, and you’re to have no other god before the great “I Am.”
As Moses advocates for God’s glory to be shown, and for it’s manifestation to be around these very same stiff-necked people, this inter-action Moses has with God wherein he makes two request go with us, and secondly let me see your face, your glory-God responds…
14 The Lord replied, “My Presenceb will go with you, and I will give you rest.”c15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presenced does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?eWhat else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”f
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked,g because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”h
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”i
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to passj in front of you, and I will proclaim my name,k the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.l 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may seem me and live.”
One commentary says this about Moses request to see God’s glory and the face of God; “God is Creator of creation, not an element of or in creation, therefore cannot be seen by a created element(the human)” continuing “God cannot be seen in the context of spatial or temporal reality.” Concluding. “We can only see the results of God’s presence and actions, not a being called God.” “El Shekinah,” the visible glory and manifestation of God on earth…