Exodus 33:18-20. 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
Glory is the longing of every human heart. We are all glory seekers. It is wired into us by God. Glory is why we get out of bed in the morning. It’s why we work, play, eat, drink. It’s why we want “likes” on social media, and why we play video games. It’s why there’s great good in the world and great evil. It’s why we storm beaches, and hold babies. It’s why you will risk loving another person, and why death stings so bad.
Everything in the universe was created with some level of glory. From constellations to molecules, it all has glory. But humans, as image bearers of God, are the most glorious thing he made. Which is why it’s so easy for us to become addicted to our own glory instead of seeking God’s.
But what is glory? In the Bible the word literally means weight, meaning, and significance. On the mountain God will define his glory as his goodness – Please show me your glory….I will make all my goodness pass before you. You may remember that creation began in goodness – “and it was all very good.” Goodness (towb) occurs when something is fully living up to its nature and design, being all it can be. It’s the opposite of shame – feeling “less than”, imperfect, failing to be what you were made to be.
Isn’t this what we all want out of life? A glory to cover our shame? Isn’t that what Moses’ audacious prayer in Exodus 33 shows us?
Moses’ request to see God’s glory comes right after the Hebrews’ great sin of crafting and worshiping the golden calf. God was so angry that he was going to kill everyone. But Moses interceded for the people, pleading for their lives. God decided that he would let the people live and even go to the Promised Land, but with a catch: He would not go with them.
Exodus 33:3. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.
God was offering them his blessings without his presence.
But Moses knew what we all need to know – only the glory of God’s presence can fill the longings that we have inside us. Moses could have prayed “God, get us to the promised land.” Or, “God, please don’t kill us all.” And he did. But his final prayer, his ultimate prayer, was “God please show me your glory.” Because without the glory of God’s presence, life, even the “good life”, is not worth living.
Moses prayed to see God’s glory and God graciously allowed it. Sort of – I will make my goodness pass before you…but…you cannot see my face.
What’s even more amazing is that God has answered this prayer for you and me before we even prayed it. God has shown us his glory in Christ Jesus and we didn’t even have to ask. Because the truth is we never would have. We would have been content with all of our lesser glories, forever living as glory thieves.
But in Christ we never have to live that way again.
2 Corinthians 4:6. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Union with Christ means our search for glory is over. We have found our significance in him. We have found freedom from the lesser glories that we would use to prop ourselves up and cover our shame. We have found our purpose in the sacrifice of the cross. We have found our life’s meaning in learning to love like Jesus.
“To live is Christ” means the ultimate prayer, “Please show me your glory,” has been answered once and for all. It is Jesus. His living. His dying. His glorified life in and through us, shining in our hearts for all to see.
What lesser glories do you tend to seek to prop yourself up? Work? Sex? Status? Physical beauty? Accomplishment? Entertainment?
You in Christ
How does your union with Christ satisfy your longing for glory, meaning, significance?
Christ in you
How can you both behold the glory of Christ’s sacrificial love today, and how can you display that glory to the world?