18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Exodus 33:18-23, 34:5-7

Traditions. Those little rituals passed down from generation to generation that help shape your family by creating a sense of unity, warmth and closeness. They create memories that fill your mind with peace, love, happiness, and security. Some family traditions made sense, and some don’t.

The birthday hat: The idea that each person in your family gets to wear this hat at supper time on their birthday.

Snuggling in bed on Saturday mornings: Maybe that’s when the whole family jumps into mom and dad’s bed and spends 15-20 minutes laughing, talking, sharing.  There’s probably more traditions at Christmas time, right?

Christmas Tree: That comes from the 15th Century when an evergreen tree was brought into the house, reminding them of the Tree of Life, lost in the Garden of Eden, but that appears again in the Revelation of St. John as the tree from which we will eat the fruit from the Tree of Life once again. So the families would decorate the tree with a variety of fruit and little cakes.  That makes sense to me.

Fruit Cake?  Some love it!  Then there are others who agree with Johnny Carson who said there is really only one fruit cake at Christmas time that just keeps being passed along from person to person. Some traditions make sense and some we don’t get.

The same could be said about the Bible. We get Genesis 1 “God said, Let there by light!” or John 8 “I am the light of the world.” Or even on the Mount of Transfiguration, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matt 17;1). But do you get what we read in Exodus 33 and 34 and are you wondering what this has to do with Transfiguration and Christmas in February? You might have already connected the dots about Moses asking God to see his glory. It is hidden in Moses’ question and God’s answer that we discover a brilliant truth about God.  Today may the Holy Spirit lead us to

Discover God’s Hidden Glory

  1. By asking the right question
  2. By seeing the right problem
  3. By believing God’s right solution

Let’s get our bearing on this Word of God. Moses has lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt, they have also made the Golden Calf.  God calls Moses up and tells him that he is going to abandon them.  He tells Moses that now he has to lead the people but that God wasn’t going to go with them because he was sick or them.  And if he would go with them he would kill them. God did promises to send an angel to go before Moses, but God wasn’t going. That is when Moses is at his best. He is the intercessor and begs God, “Remember your promises to Abraham and to your people to bring them to the Promised Land, and your promise to me to go with me.  God, you made a promise that you can’t break.” So, the Lord, relents from his plan (which we find out is actually at test for Moses) and tells Moses he is happy with Moses and will go with him. Perhaps it is this praise from God that emboldens Moses to ask……

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

Do you get what Moses is asking?  He saw the Lord appearing as fire in Egypt, a cloud, and while on Mount Sinai the Lord appeared as a large hand that covered Moses and half the mountainside! These were just “forms” of God. God wasn’t really a pillar of fire, or the hand of a large man, so he asks God, “Show me your glory!”  But, God’s glory is more than physical appearance.  “Kavod” – reputation, honor, character  – Moses was saying, “God, I want to find out what makes you tick.  To know your mind, your plans, why you do the things you do.  Don’t just tell me what sin is, but will you show me how you feel about it?”  Perhaps not the right question to be asking God!

You can relate.  Maybe you’ve wanted to have a little talk with God and ask him the same sort of questions: What does Jesus look like? What makes God tick? When there is a Mass shooting – at a school, don’t you want to ask God, “Will you show me your glory? Let me see the inner working in your mind.  Why let something like that happen?  When you’re wrestling with the big questions of life we would like to ask God, “Will you show me your glory?  Should I get married or not?  Show me your glory. Should I move or not? Should I change churches or not?  Show me your glory, Lord, your plans.”

Moses was asking to know the inner mind of God. And God says, “I can’t do it.”  So, what was so wrong with this request?

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

If God had said, “If I show you my glory it would really be pointless.  To understand the universe is like an ant trying to understand your life.  You don’t have the mental juice. And we’d be okay – we’re good with that. We wouldn’t be all that insulted, God is wiser, greater than we are.  We’re good with that!  Look, even St Paul was inspired to write,

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

Romans 11:33

So we are fine – he can’t show his glory, inner working, because we wouldn’t understand it anyway. But God didn’t say that.  He said, “I can show you, but then it would kill you!”  Moses didn’t see the problem, but God did.  There was a study done by ASAPScience, “ASAPScience says that yes, you actually can be scared to death, but the chances depend on how healthy your heart is. When you experience fear, the natural fight or flight response kicks in, triggering the release of adrenaline. Feb 23, 2015.

There it is.  Being scared to death really happens.  You can die from fear. There are accounts of mugging victims who weren’t touched, but died.  14 people died from fear of riding roller coasters. On the list were people who were completely safe in the apartments on 9-11 but died from fear after the planes hit the buildings. They ruled out the ones with weak hearts or elderly, but were talking about strong healthy people who died from fear.  Our body does this.  You blood vessels constrict, adrenaline kicks in but if you get too much it can kill you. God knows this. Therefore if we are going to discover the hidden glory of God, we want to be asking the right question.

By seeing the right problem

In order to ask the right question, we want to be able to see the right problem.  Moses says, “Show me your glory, Lord….. Not just how you define it but how you feel about it.”  God says, “You want me to do that? It will kill you!

“But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

The obvious question is this: Why would a God who is loving and forgiving do such a thing?  God explains it to Moses – God gave a sermon about his name. You know God’s name. It was the name he told Moses to use when he went to go talk with Pharaoh about letting his people go. You tell them that “I am” sent you.  “Jehovah” – Hebrew verb forms – I am.  That name stresses unchanging nature of God.  Nothing about God yesterday has changed today.  And Nothing about God today will change for tomorrow. No. God is “ I am” – never change.  When the Nazarites were making copies of the OT they would put a little asterisk next to Jehovah which meant, “read the margin.” In the margin is would say, “don’t say “Jehovah,” but “Idonai”—THE LORD in the English Bible in all caps.  That tells you in the Hebrew text “I am” is the proper name for God.  So awesome that OT believers wouldn’t even say it.  Moses knows that God’s name means he never changes.  So, Jehovah

passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. ”

Exactly – what so bad about that? Then the Lord went on, “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” God said, “Yes, part of what makes me tick is that I love with a love that is beyond human love and for so many, beyond understanding.  You see, I hate sin with a hatred, anger and righteousness that is beyond what you can comprehend.  I will not let sin ever go unpunished.”  Do you get it? Do you see the right problem?  God hates sin so much that he must have sin punished.  And the painful consequences of sin echo through generations.  For instance, is dad an alcoholic?  400% greater chance the kids will be.  If dad commits adultery there is 500% greater chance the kids will get a divorce. You see, the sin you commit affects those around you.

We have to understand this to understand what God was saying to Moses. You see, God’s glory is not just incredible love, but also God’s just punishment on sin that will kill you. God’s goodness is both his love and his just punishment on sin.  Seems kinda harsh?  Agreed!  We don’t get that when we’re the sinner.  But, when we’re the victim, or someone we love is the victim – then we get it. For instance, if a drunk driven kills my wife or one of my kids and the judge says, “Well that guy was having a pretty tough week so we can understand why he wanted to drink, but for the most part he’s been a pretty good driver so I’m going to let him go.”  What would you call that judge?  A bad judge!  We’re agree.  You would also agree that sin always has a victim.  So, if God would just let sin go, let people sin without consequences, he would be showing lovelessness to the victim—whether some person or even God himself! Do you get it?  God’s anger over sin and just punishment for sin is simply love for those wronged by that sin. You see the problem: where there is sin, God has to punish it. Punishing sin is showing love for those affected by sin. If God would cease to punish sin then God would cease to be good.  And if God would cease to be good then he would cease to be God. You can see the problem now, can’t you?  God would say to Moses, “Moses, do you really want to see my glory?  You really want to know how I feel about sin?  You’ll die!” But, there is a solution to DISCOVERING GOD’S HIDDEN GLORY!

By believing God’s right solution.

You won’t discover God’s solution on your own. Think of Isaiah 6 when the glory of the Lord is hovering over Jerusalem and Isaiah sees the Lord in his flowing robes, surrounded by angels singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” and then it becomes very apparent to Isaiah that this Almighty One sees it all! All Isaiah had done, thought, because the Lord can read his mind….and judged it. All!  We’re told that Isaiah almost fainted, as though almost dead and become one of those in the case study. Likewise the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration were like dead men,

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.”

Matthew 17:5-6

They were terrified! They knew they were in God’s holy presence—a God who hates sin with a hatred beyond anything they’d seen on earth.  And they knew they were sinners.  Terrified. That’s the way it is if God reveals all his glory.

Earlier we said how nice it would be to have a lunch date with God and ask him some questions. It would probably be okay if you bought the lunch and could control the conversation.  You’ve probably ask God, “So, why did my dad get cancer? Lose his job? Or what should I do next year?” If you could control the conversation you’d survive.

But, if God bought lunch and controlled the conversation I guarantee you wouldn’t like it.  You’d ask, “God when I treated your law like it’s optional honestly, how do you feel about that?  Don’t hold anything back. When I by my words and actions inflict pain on those you love, be honest, what would you like to do to me?  God, when I treat you as my Butler that you exist to make my life to turn out how I want it to, rather than thinking of you as my Creator, and that I exist to do things that turn out the way you want them to, when I think of you God, as Alfred and I’m Bruce Wayne, tell me God, be honest, how do you think of me?

You wouldn’t finish your coffee before you dropped dead.  If God honestly showed you what he thought, if you got to see God’s face changing into shades of red as he described the way he felt about your sin, your adrenaline would fill your body, your blood vessels would constrict and you’d be six feet under. Moses said, “Show me your glory.”  He didn’t know what he was asking.  But, God would show him the right solution.

What a challenge for God, right!?!  It wasn’t that Moses was asking for something wrong, but simply didn’t know what he was asking, wanting to get closer to God and all.  God wanted to give Moses the comfort he wanted, but, God would have to do it in a way that comforted Moses without destroying him. What does God do?  He hides himself in his glory so he can reveal himself more fully to Moses:

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

God hid the fullness of his glory, and let Moses see a little bit.  It did exactly what Moses needed.  He was leading 2 million people that knew how to make bricks. He needed a people that knew how to use a sword. And they were going into a land full of warriors. The spies came back and told about the Philistines warriors 9 ft tall – one was named Goliath – you’ve probably heard of him. Lol. It was a scary situation – God hid is glory so he might reveal himself. What did God reveal?  What do you think Moses thought when a big hand covered him along with half of a mountain top? How big is God’s hand? The size of a football field? Moses knew he had a strong powerful God who would go with him into the Promised land.  The gracious and merciful interaction told Moses God wanted to be with him, to feel secure, nothing will harm you including my hatred against sin.

And that is what happens on the Mount of Transfiguration. The disciples are with Jesus, who they have seen so far as 100% human.  Now they see him as 100% God.  What a comfort for them and for us.  It is the prefect Savior we need.  100% God to have power and 100% man to have perfect human life—the payment for sin.  Do you see why it is so awesome for us to be reading about Christmas in The Story the week of Transfiguration?  What happened to Moses and on the Mount of Transfiguration is a perfect reflection of what happened on Christmas day. God hides himself so that he might reveal himself. In a baby – not intimidating, not scared—but a baby where God is hiding in 9 lbs of flesh! You see God’s glory n Jesus as he feeds the hungry and poor, defends the women, dines with yucky of social, immoral people – this must be the compassionate and gracious God! Jesus prayers for those who nail him, compassionate and gracious God.  His disciples deny him in the garden, on trial, yet Jesus redeems them, makes them pillars in his church—compassionate and merciful God!

Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.  Jesus doesn’t come to dole out punishment – but takes the punishment for our sins.  Bore our sins in his body.  Christ became our sin.  Sin must be punished.  Tortured and punished so we could go free. Yes, Jesus got it.  God made it right, hidden in the cross. There you see how God feels about you.  God bankrupted heaven to fill the earth with his glory—to purchase and win you from all sin, from death and the from the power of the devil. He died and rose for you in glory.

Some things from the Bible we get pretty well. Let there be light. Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus showed his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Likewise God has revealed himself to you. He reveals himself in hidden places.  How wise is God? Next time you go for a hike, not for yourself, but look at creation. “The skies proclaim the work of his hands.” See God’s wisdom, power, love of beauty and the glory of the Lord in nature.

If you want to find God’s glorious will for your life?  Don’t go find it on Dr. Phil?  Rather look for it hidden in God’s law. Yes, go to God’s law! God didn’t give his law to bind us, but to unlock life so it might be glorious and beautiful, so you can be proud of who you and proud of what you do now, before he calls you home.

Want to know the tender heart of God? That glory is hidden in the gospel.  Want to touch God? Lucky shepherds held out their finger and God grabbed it.  Disciples hugged him.  You want to touch God? Come and eat and drink and touch God—just that his flesh and blood are hidden in bread and wine.

How about power to live a new and better life?  Re-live your baptism through daily repentance and contrition.  This is the Holy Spirit at work for you—it’s just that his power is hidden in the water.

How about joyful service to God?  You can’t see God now, but he is hidden when you serve the poor, lonely, God is just hidden in them.  Jesus said, “Whatever you do for one of these, you do for me.” And when you tell them about God who loves everyone, and sent Jesus to die to pay the penalty of all our sins and how this gives you Divine Peace, you unleash the glory of his gospel! Serve them, Jesus said,  “you serve me.”

There are lots of traditions that make sense and some not so much. Likewise there are some parts of Scripture that are easy to understand, and some not so much.  This is how God works.  He has hidden himself in the pages of Scripture whether creation, transfiguration or Christmas so that we can recognize God’s hidden glory. Therefore let us wonder at the creation of the world, marvel at the manger, and rejoice with the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration.  In all of these place discover God’s hidden Glory and the glory of the Lord will shine upon you. Amen!