“And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…” ~ Exodus 33:9-11a
A confession: I am partial to Moses, like I am to the Apostle John. I cannot wait to meet these men in heaven someday!
Can you even imagine, speaking with God face to face, like you would your dearest friend? Those words take my breath away, and I am slightly envious of Moses.
Rea`. Hebrew for “friend, companion, intimate”. Moses was like an intimate friend, a companion of God!
The Hebrew word translated “face” is paniym. It also means “presence, person”. We must understand that “face to face” here is not literally face to face. It is more like “face to presence”. For God Himself tells us, in a conversation with His companion Moses, that no man can see His face and live.
“And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’ Then He said, ‘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 no man shall see Me, and live.’ And the LORD said, ‘Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.’ ” ~ Exodus 33:18-23
Here was Moses, already conversing regularly with his friend, God, face to presence, daily. And he wanted more. Oh, there is a lesson here for us, friends! As we spend more and more time with God – praying, reading and studying His word – we should be desiring more and more of Him. As we mature in our faith, we will move from desiring milk like a newborn child, to solid food, and eventually meat. Our souls should be growing up!
“as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” ~ 1 Peter 2:2
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” ~ Hebrews 5:13-14
Are we exercising our souls in the ways of God? Are we growing and desiring solid food? Do we ask, as Moses did, for God to show us His glory? Do we understand that we, too, can be intimate friends with God, through faith in Jesus?
This is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament. I just love how gracious and loving God is to Moses. And how open and trusting Moses is with God. “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” ~ James 2:23
“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.” God granted Moses’ wish up to a point. He showed Moses a glimpse of not only His glory, but of His very being, of WHO God is, of the great I AM.
“Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.’ ” ~ Exodus 34:5-7
The LORD stood with Moses, while shielding him with His hand, and “proclaimed the name of the LORD”. The name. Shem in Hebrew, means “reputation, fame, glory”.
Remember, a name is so much more than a word. It is who you are. When someone hears your name, if they know you personally your reputation will spring to their minds. How they feel about you, what they think of you. But it means so much more than that. For it is your very being. Not just what others think of you. But who you actually know yourself to be.
God declared His innermost soul and spirit to Moses, and to us! Merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth, merciful, forgiving, just. He grants us free will and choice, with all the consequences that come along with that. He is the great I AM!
“So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.” ~ Exodus 34:8
You and I had better join Moses and bow low before the great I AM. Yes, He is our friend and companion, but He is so much greater, so much more.
Someday, as believers saved by God’s grace (His unearned, undeserved mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness) through faith in Jesus, we will join together before the throne of God – the King of Kings – and worship Him, proclaiming these words:
” ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.’ ” ~ Revelation 4:11
Are you ready? 🙂
* I highly recommend a wonderful book about the nature of God – The Father Style by Gayle D. Erwin. Follow this link for more information, to purchase a copy, or to download the audio book for FREE!