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Daily Devotions – Moses sees God’s back

Exodus 33:17-21 (ESV)

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 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.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock,

Today’s passage is one of several which help us to stop taking God’s graciousness for granted.  Because God is holy, God cannot tolerate sin. God is outraged at sin, in the same way that you and I get outraged when we see others being unfair to the people we love. Because of this, we cannot see God’s face and live: God’s holiness would meet our sin, and destroy the sin, and us in the process! Ouch! In this sweet scene, Moses wants to see God’s glory, and God protects him, by showing his “backside.” The good news for us is that we live in the new covenant. We can let God’s face shine on us, without getting burnt, because in baptism, we are covered by the pure garments of Christ.

Psalm suggestion: Psalm 80: In addition to the readings below, try reading and reflecting on Psalm 80 each day this week. Three times prayer asks “let your face shine, that we might be saved.” When God’s face shines on us, it means we are in a personal, face-to-face relationship with God. This personal relationship changes everything in our world. It is like turning on the spiritual lights: when we know God personally, we begin to know the truth about God, ourselves, and our world.

Psalm 80 (ESV)

Restore Us, O God
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm.

80 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us!3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 4 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 8 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. 9 You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. 11 It sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River. 12 Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? 13 The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it. 14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face! 17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!