Moses desired to see the glory of God. This man of faith yearned to know the LORD his God and made his request. Exodus 33:18-23 relates the account of God answering his prayer.
This is a well-known passage and many believers have heard and read and studied this portion of Scripture, and gained insights on getting to know the God of the Bible. Some incredible hymns have come from this passage, such as "He Hideth my Soul" and "Rock of Ages". In Exodus 33:18-23, we can see so much, including...
-the character of God (His holiness, His power, His desire that we know Him).
-the unworthiness of finite and sinful man.
-how we should desire to be close to Him.
-the importance of coming to Him in His way.
I myself have read these verses many times, and yet, this time through the Bible, I am struck by something that I didn't notice before (or have forgotten), to wit, the verse below:
"And the LORD said, Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock" (Exodus 33:21).
The words jumped out at me: "...there is a place by me..."
Moses was NOT told to go up on a mountain to see God afar off through a high-powered telescope. NOR was he told to catch God's program on the television (tele means "distant"). God wasn't distant in His response at all. Instead, He said, "There is a place by Me."
All of us are born sinners, and headed for the destruction we deserve in Hell (Romans 3:23). We are separated from God by our iniquities (Isaiah 59:2). However, God has made the way of salvation open to all who will come to Him through faith alone in the atoning work of Jesus (II Samuel 14:14). "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13).
Paul preached to the men of Athens, that God desired lost souls to come to Him, telling them...
"That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us" (Acts 17:27).
Once you know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour, He "...will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). As His people, we should stick close to His side in open fellowship. As we live each day, abiding in Him and in His word (John 15:5,7), we can with great joy proclaim with the psalmist, "Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth" (Psalm 119:151).
What a challenge to me and every believer, to respond to God's invitation to be "BY" Him! He certainly "is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). Often we are tempted to go our own way, and drift from Him, even as believers. The world lures us, the flesh pulls us, and the devil assures us, that we don't really need to stay THAT close to the LORD. After all, God doesn't care if we stray a little, does He? But the truth is GOD DOES CARE! If we say it doesn't matter, we are "deceiving our own selves" and miss out on truly getting to know Him better and seeing Him work mightily in our lives.
BUT when we learn to trust Him and stay near Him, we find that it beats the life on the brink all to pieces! It was when Moses was by the Lord, that he saw His glory in a special way!
The last line of verse 21 also jumped out at me: "...thou shalt stand upon a rock" (Exodus 33:21).
How wonderfully assuring it is to know that when we are staying close by the Lord, we can know that we are standing on a good foundation. Not on sand, not on boggy earth, but "upon a rock".