Some passages in certain books of the Bible show God’s intentions toward humanity up-close and personal. Exodus 34 is one of them.
The story up to this point is God has established Abraham’s family to represent Him in His fallen world, and he has just delivered them from the nation of Egypt who enslaved them. The people, however, prove to be stubborn and rebellious of heart, when He brings their complaining souls to Mount Sinai and makes a covenant with them. While Moses goes up on the mountain of God for 40 days and 40 nights to get the Tabernacle instructions, the people brazenly rebel right in front of God’s presence by degrading God’s living glorious image to that of a calf made of gold. God is so insulted, He is ready to start over with just Moses, but Moses intercedes, and God changes His mind. Moses punishes the people, but God still will not Himself go with the people, or He’ll consume them.
Moses goes back to God for another 40 days and 40 nights to plead on behalf of Israel, and settle a new covenant with Israel. And here he asks the most daring request a human could ask of God, “Please let me see your glory.” God responds by telling him, he can see His goodness, and hear His name, but He cannot see His face. God prepares the new covenant, and bases it on, not just what he’s done for Israel, but upon His own character. He passes in front of Moses telling Moses His name and all that it means, and Moses responds by hurrying to bow and worship.
The name of Yahweh
How does God describe Himself?
- Yahweh–I am. He exists. He simply is, was, and ever will be.
- El–God. Creator, Judge, Powerful, Ruler.
- Rahum–Compassionate–Characterized by the tender feeling of the heart toward those who are suffering: also the tender feeling a Father has for his children.
- Hanun–Graicous–With a face shining full of favor.
- Erek-Aphaim–Slow-angered. He has a long fuse.
- Rav Hessed v Emeth–Abounding in Love and Truth. All that is in God is full to overflowing with Loyal love and truth
- Notser Hessed lelaphim–Keeping Loyal love to thousands. He keeps His commitments to all.
- Nose’ avon, vpesha’ vhattath–Forgiving wickedness, transgression, and sin. The Hebrew word Nasa’ has the connotation of Carry. It is not the Hebrew Idea of letting go of a sin, but the idea of bearing with the person who is sinning, transgressing, and acting wickedly against.
- V’Nakeh Lo yinakeh— By no means letting the guilty go unpunished. He will justly execute His wrath upon all.
- Paqed avon avoth al b’ney, v al b’ney b’nim al Shaleshim, vraveyim. Visiting the transgressions of the fathers on the children and children’s children to the third and fourth.
Dreadful and Glorious. God of the Old Testament showed Moses exactly what He is like.
Moses hurried and bowed down and worshiped. (Vs. 8) For an creature of earth to be thrust back into the fiery mantle from which the dust came, would be less terrifying than for a human made in the image of God, to come to know the one whose image he bears. Fullness of Joy, and utter dread. Worship– This is the melting in God’s presence in which all of our unworthiness is exposed like silver dross, and the Image is recast to that which it was originally intended to represent. The people of Israel cast a calf, and therefore exchanged God’s glory for the lesser glory of a creature of earth. (See Romans 1:23) But here Moses was before God’s glorious good presence and name, and he worshiped. He wrote down all that God commanded him on two stone tablets, and came down the mountain.
Moses’ face shone radiant light from being in the presence of Yahweh. (Vs. 29) He did not know it, but the people feared to go near Him. Did he glow like the moon or like the Sun?
- In Daniel, the righteous are told that their faces shone out “Like the brightness of the expanse of Heaven forever and ever.”
- In Matthew, this is translated as “The righteous will shine like the Sun.” Matthew 13:43
- In Matthew 17, Jesus’ face shines like the Sun on the Transfiguration mount.
- Acts 6:15 Stephen’s face looked like the face of an angel, and he looked up and saw the glory of God. Acts 7:54
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 says of the believer, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
- A little later in his letter, Paul expresses, “The God who said, ‘Light will shine out of darkness’ is the God who has shone in our heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
It is safe to say Moses’ face shone like the sun. But how? God had restored the image of His glory in humanity in Moses here for a short while. How except by the revelation of Himself and Worship?
Worship is how God restores His image on earth. And if he restores His image on earth, He restores the earth. Only . . . through fire.