View Exodus 33 in the note window.
In this chapter we have a further account of the mediation of Moses
between God and Israel.
- He brings a very humbling message from God to them, ver. 1, 2, 3, 5.
which has a good effect upon then, ver. 4, 6.
- He settles a correspondence between God and them; and both God and
the people signify their approbation of that correspondence, God by
descending in a cloudy pillar, and the people by worshipping at the
tent - doors, ver. 7 - 12.
- He is earnest with God in prayer, and prevails.
- For a promise of his presence with the people, ver. 12 - 17.
- For a sight of his glory for himself, ver. 18 - 23.
5: I will come up - As if he had said, ye deserve that I should do
so. Put off thine ornaments, that I may know what to do with thee - That
is, put thyself into the posture of a penitent, that the dispute may be
determined in thy favour, and mercy may rejoice against judgment.
6: And Israel stript themselves of their ornaments, by the mount;
or, as some read it, at a distance from the mount - Stand afar off, like
the publican, (Lu 18:13).
God bid them lay aside their ornaments, and they did so; both to shew in
general their deep mourning, and in particular to take a holy revenge upon
themselves for giving their ear - rings to make the golden calf of.
7: And Moses took the tabernacle - The tent wherein he gave audience,
heard causes, and inquired of God, and pitched it without, afar off from
the camp - To signify to them that they were unworthy of it. Perhaps this
tabernacle was a model of the tabernacle that was afterwards to be erected,
a hasty draught from the pattern shewed him in the mount, designed for
direction to the workman, and used in the mean time as a tabernacle of
meeting between God and Moses about public affairs.
8: And when Moses went out to the tabernacle, the people looked
after him - In token of their respect to him whom before they had
slighted, and their dependence upon his mediation. By this it appeared,
that they were full of concern what would be the issue.
10: And when they saw the cloudy pillar, that symbol of God's
presence, give Moses the meeting, they all worshipped every man at his
tent door - Thereby they signified, Their humble adoration of the divine
majesty. Their thankfulness to God, that he was pleased to shew them this
token for good, for if he had been pleased to kill them he would not have
shewed them such things as these. And their hearty concurrence with
Moses as their advocate, in every thing he should promise for them.
11: And the Lord spake to Moses face to face as a man speaketh to
his friend - Which intimates not only that God revealed himself to
Moses with greater clearness than to any other of the prophets, but also
with greater expressions of particular kindness than to any other. He spake
not as a prince to a subject, but as a man to his friend, whom he loves,
and with whom he takes sweet counsel. And he turned again into the camp
- To tell the people what hopes he had of bringing this business to a good
issue. But because he intended speedily to return to the tabernacle, he
left Joshua there.
12: Moses now returned to the door of the tabernacle, as an
important supplicant for two favours, and prevails for both: herein he
was a type of Christ the great intercessor, whom the Father heareth
always. He is earnest with God for a grant of his presence with
Israel in the rest of their march to Canaan. Thou sayst, bring
up this people - Lord, it is thou thyself that employest me, and wilt
thou not own me? I am in the way of my duty, and shall I not have thy
presence with me in that way? Yet, Thou hast said, I know thee by name,
as a particular friend, and thou hast also found grace in my sight,
above any other.
13: Now therefore, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me thy
way - What favour God had expressed to the people they had forfeited the
benefit of; and therefore Moses lays the stress of his plea upon what
God had said to him. By this therefore he takes hold on God, Lord, if
thou wilt do any thing for me, do this for the people. Thus our
Lord Jesus, in his intercession, presents himself to the Father, as one
in whom he is always well - pleased, and so obtains mercy for us with whom
he is justly displeased, Shew me thy way, that I may know thee, that I
may find grace in thy sight - He insinuates that the people also, though
most unworthy, yet were in some relation to God; consider that this
nation is thy people; a people that thou hast done great things for,
redeemed to thyself, and taken into covenant with thyself; Lord, they are
thy own, do not leave them.
15: And he said, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up
hence - He speaks as one that dreaded the thought of going forward
without God's presence.
16: Wherein shall it be known to the nations that have their eyes
upon us, that I, and thy people, have found grace in thy sight; so as to
be separated from all people upon earth? Is it not that thou goest
with us? Nothing short of that can answer these characters.
17: I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken - See the power
of prayer! See the riches of God's goodness! See in type the prevalency
of Christ's intercession, which he ever lives to make for all those that
come to God by him! And the ground of that prevalency, is purely in his
own merit, it is because thou hast found grace in my sight. And now
God is perfectly reconciled to them, and his presence in the pillar of
cloud returns to them.
18: I beseech thee shew me thy glory - Moses had lately been in
the mount with God, and had had as intimate communion with God, as ever any
man had on this side heaven, and yet he is still desiring a farther
acquaintance. Shew me thy glory - Make me to see it; so the word is:
make it some way or other visible, and enable me to bear the sight of it.
Not that he was so ignorant as to think God's essence could be seen with
bodily eyes, but having hitherto only heard a voice out of a pillar of
cloud or fire, he desired to see some representation of the divine glory,
such as God saw fit to gratify him with.
20: Thou canst not see my face - A full discovery of the glory of God
would quite overpower the faculties of any mortal man. I will make all
my goodness pass before thee - He had given him wonderful instances of his
goodness in being reconciled to Israel; but that was only goodness in
the stream, he would shew him goodness in the spring. This was a sufficient
answer to his request: Shew me thy glory, saith Moses; I will
shew thee my goodness, saith God. God's goodness is his glory; and he
will have us to know him by the glory of his mercy, more than by the glory
of his majesty. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious - In
bestowing his gifts, and is not debtor to any, nor accountable to any; all
his reasons of mercy are fetched from within himself, not from any merit in
his creatures, and I will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy - For his
grace is always free. He never damns by prerogative, but by prerogative he
22: I will put thee in a cleft of the rock - In that he was to be
sheltered from the dazzling light, and devouring fire of God's glory. This
was the rock in Horeb, out of which water was brought, of which it is
said, That rock was Christ, (1Co 10:4). 'Tis in the clefts of this
rock that we are secured from the wrath of God, which otherwise would
consume us: God himself will protect those that are thus hid: and it is only
through Christ that we have the knowledge of the glory of God. None
can see that to their comfort, but those that stand upon this rock, and
take shelter in it.
23: And I will take away my hand - Speaking after the manner of men.
And thou shalt see my back - parts - The face in man is the seat of majesty,
and men are known by their faces, in them we take a full view of men;
that sight of God Moses might not have, but such a sight as we have of
a man who is gone past us, so that we only see his back. Now Moses
was allowed to see this only, but when he was a witness to Christ's
transfiguration, he saw his face shine as the sun.