“Show me your glory.” In Exodus 33:18 this was Moses’ bold request to God. Moses had already seen more of the glory of God than most. God had spoken from a burning bush, brought miraculous plagues, delivered the Israelite nation, drowned Pharoah’s army. God’s presence had led through the desert and Moses had seen God inscribe 10 commandments on stone. What more does Moses want? Why would he ask to see more of God’s glory?
In Exodus 32 while Moses was on Mount Sinai with God for forty days, Israel made for themselves a golden calf. They said of this idol, “these are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” and they worshiped it. Because of their rebellion God declared he would destroy Israel and make Moses into a great nation” (Ex 32:9-10). Moses pleaded and God relented. But Israel still lost 3000 by the sword of the Levites and were also struck by the Lord with a plague.
Given their anxiety and rebellion, Israel was a difficult people to lead. In Exodus 33:3 God decides Israel can make their way to Canaan, without him. Otherwise, God might destroy them on the way. Moses is not pleased at the prospect of leading God’s people without God. We read his careful conversation with God in Exodus 33:12-18. He reminds God Israel is God’s nation and God asked Moses to lead them. Moses and Israel need God to be with them. To lead through difficulty Moses knew he needed to know God, even more. He asks God to teach him God’s ways. This is why he asked to see God’s glory. When God does this in Exodus 34 it turns out God’s ways are God’s glory.
There are so many lessons in these passages. Here is one. When we experience adversity, make this your priority – learn more of God ways and God’s glory. Ask God to show you.