Tuesday, April 19, 2016

God is Not Subject to Pay Equity


Rest – On God’s Terms and His Bottom Line
Exodus 33:17-23: And the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight, and I have known you by name.” Then Moses said, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
God tells Moses He will grant his request to go with the people because Moses had found favor in His sight and because God knows him by name. This latter condition may be a reference to God speaking with Moses face to face, and knowing him as a friend. We are also tempted to think that God has bought Moses’ arguments.  Perhaps so, but Moses wants to make sure and asks God to be shown His glory. But let us be sure of one thing – whatever God does (and what He does, He does abundantly), He does on His own will and desire because as the text implies, Moses had found favor in His sight.
Chuck Smith marvels at how wonderful it would be if we each sought the heavenly glory of God rather than being so ‘earthbound’ in our thinking about Him. He writes, “We get so bound up in the things of man, the things of man’s creation, the work of our own hands; oh, that we might see the glory of God.” Moses in the Old Testament and then Paul and John in the New got a glimpse of the glory of God and their lives were changed forever. Smith goes on to say that seeing God’s glory (or getting a real glimpse of it) will create in us a dissatisfaction with earthly things. It will make us feel as if we can never settle into the old routine again. He writes, “I can never be happy again with just the old mundane material world around me, but there'll be that longing to enter into that glory, and the presence of God.” That’s the extra assurance that Moses was looking for as he had a real hunger for a closer relationship with, and a greater knowledge of, God. And you will remember that Moses had many years earlier already seen something of the Glory of God when God’s glory had appeared in the cloud (Exodus 16:10) and when it had rested on Mount Sinai like a consuming fire (Exodus 24:16-17).  Still, or maybe because of that, Moses wanted more of seeing and knowing God’s Glory. And God responds.
And God says, “I’ll let My ‘goodness’ pass before you.” And, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.”

Moses wanted to see God’s glory and God offers to show him His goodness. To commentator David Guzik that makes a lot of sense because God’s glory, he says, lies in His goodness. The most important thing for us to understand as we seek to know God and His glory is that God is good. If we fail to grasp that, we will fail to learn much about God.

Matthew Henry suggests that God denied that which was not fit to be granted, and which Moses could not bear. And God does so out of compassion for man, for “A full discovery of the glory of God would quite overpower the faculties of any mortal man in this present state, and overwhelm him, even Moses himself.When we ask things of God, we must be thankful that sometimes He denies our request. Henry goes on to say that seeing the face of God “is an honor reserved for the future state, to be the eternal bliss of holy souls...In the meantime let us adore the height of what we do know of God, and the depth of what we do not.” It is also of note to Henry that “Sinful man dreads the sight of God his Judge; but holy souls, being by the Spirit of the Lord changed into the same image, behold with open face the glory of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

On the aspect of proclaiming the name of the Lord, David Guzik reminds us that “in the thinking of the ancient Hebrews (and also in other ancient cultures), the name represented a person’s character and nature. God promised to reveal His character to Moses, not merely a title.” Moses was asking to see more of God’s glory, but God was offering him infinitely more than just the mere visual grandeur of His glory. God was offering Moses what he needed to know, not what he wanted to know.

Smith says this is
“a name that was highly revered by the Jews, so highly revered but that they would not even attempt to pronounce it. So the name of God became non-pronounceable. When the scribes would come to the name of God in their text, . . .  they would not put in the vowels, only the consonants, Y-H-V-H. Now try and pronounce Y-H-V-H, unpronounceable, can't pronounce just the consonants, you need the vowels for pronunciation. We don't know what the vowels are. That is why we don't know if the name of God is Yahweh, or Jehovah, pronounced with a "Y" not sure how to spell it. We don't know what it is. We guess at what the vowels might be, but we don't know because the name of God was not pronounced by them.”

If he is correct, then for centuries now we seem to have taken a risk or perhaps compromised and deemed that God’s name is both Yahweh and Jehovah.  And if that’s not enough, here’s what else Smith suggests took place each time a scribe was about to write the name of God:
But the scribes when they would come to these consonants, before they would write them in the text, they would go in and take a bath, put on fresh clothes, wash their pen completely, dip it in fresh ink, and then write the consonants. Now can you imagine how many baths you'd have to take in some of these passages where the Lord's name is mentioned several times? Yet that is the kind of reverence in which they held the name of God, feeling that it was such a holy name that it should never pass the lips of man. Thus it was never to be pronounced by man.

Readers, he says, when they would come to the name, “rather than attempting to pronounce the name, they would bow their head in reverence and they would just whisper the name.” Nothing was held in higher respect than the name of God. My, haven’t we come a long way – when we often hear the name of God being used so abhorrently today, not only by adults, but also by very young children. What’s your practice? What do you let your children or grandchildren get away with in your presence? I remember once being in the midst of negotiations and someone took the name of Jesus in vain. I very politely asked him, “Jesus Christ is not whom we are discussing right now, so I would appreciate it if you would keep Him out of it.” The man got the message; didn’t apologize, but changed his vocabulary going forward.

When God said, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you”, was He really saying He would pronounce His name before Moses? Smith says that as far as the Israelites were concerned only the High Priest knew how to pronounce the name of God and he would do so once a year on the Day of Atonement.

God knew that Moses had to be protected when He showed him His goodness, and Moses tells us in verses 21-23 of this passage how God intended to do that. First God gave Moses a very specific instruction as to where to stand in order to see what he was being allowed to see. Then as He passed before and by Moses, God would hide Moses in the cleft of the rock he was told to stand on and use His own hand to shield him from seeing God Himself.  It is this passage that prompted Agustus Toplady to write the famous words many of us have sung, Rock of Ages, cleft for me; Let me hide myself in Thee.

David Guzik gives us a list of people who have experienced a glimpse of the glory of God while being protected by Him.  They included Isaiah, the apostle John, and Paul, from our Bible. And post-Bible times, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd (the great apostle to the American Indians), and D. L. Moody. We may not be given that honor, but that should not stop us from having an earnest desire to experience God deeply, in whatever way He chooses to allow us to do so. We can all see something of the glory of God, even though we will not see it fully, or clearly, or even comprehend it.
Even Moses was only allowed to see God’s back. But let us not forget that indeed what God allowed for Moses was more than what He had allowed for any other man. There’s also suggestion here, I believe, that while we can never see God, we can see “behind God”, that is, we can see where God has been and has left His mark. Have you seen God in nature, in the life of a newborn, in miracles that we take for granted? God’s been there. Watch to see His back as He moves on and move with Him and you will experience the after-effects of God’s glory and presence.

The message is that if we were to be allowed to see any more of God or all of God, we could not bear it, no matter how much we desire it. We have to understand the whole scene as another of God’s infinitely brilliant designs for our experiences – He reveals a certain amount of Himself while still concealing all of Himself; He blesses us with the revelation but at the same time protects us from any more. And that’s how God rewarded Moses and his desire to see His glory. And as Guzik points out, God does all He can to satisfy us as we seek Him. But the bottom line is that He would have us know Him more by His goodness and mercy, than, as Matthew Henry says, by His glorious majesty.
And it did not stop there for the believer.  There was more of God’s glory to be revealed when God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 3:18).

God tells Moses He will be “gracious to whom He will be gracious.” God as absolute owner of all and everything, grants His gifts to whomever He chooses and in any amounts that He chooses.  He owes no one anything; nor is He accountable for His actions to anyone. That’s why the world had, and has, a problem with Him. The motivation for any of His decisions in this regard stem solely from within Him and not because of anyone meriting anything He gives to them. His gifts are strictly on the basis of His doing what seems right to Him and Him alone.  Now for those of us that have been taught that there must be “fairness and equality” in all aspects of our lives today, that is hard to swallow.  Yet, it is the very thing we need to grasp in our relationship with God. Telling God He’s wrong in doing so gets us nowhere fast.
 
You and I need to come to the place where we seek God without ceasing, accept the blessings He gives us, keep asking for more, and recognize His right to withhold our requests when He chooses to, which ultimately is for our own protection. We cannot invite or expect the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, until we get to that place.



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