Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday's Meditation: Glory and Goodness

Just when everything seems to be going wrong, God reveals his goodness and his glory.

Consider the amazing events recorded in Exodus 32 & 33. Moses has experienced unimaginable victory: the Egyptians have been defeated, God’s people have been delivered from slavery into freedom, and Moses has received ten life-giving words that will re-order Israel’s new identity as God’s very own society.

Moses was literally at the heights of revelation and victory. When he came down from the mountaintop he got the surprise of his life: the people of Israel, freshly rescued from 400 years of misery, had turned away from God, created a golden statue of a calf, and bowed down to their newly-created idol. Worse still, the “worship” of the man-made statue involved the kind of party that would make your mother blush.

When you turn to Exodus 33, that’s the story so far. Some days are diamonds, some days are stones, and some days are calf manure. In that very place of betrayal and spiritual adultery, God chose to demonstrate his goodness to Moses. Exodus 33: 12 – 23 takes only a moment to read, and we can discover at least four meditations:

1). As Moses pleads with God for help, and God answers simply, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” God’s first answer is to offer his presence. It’s what we need most. Selah: pause, and think about that!

2). Moses responds with wisdom that still applies for us today: regarding God’s presence Moses says, “What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” The distinguishing mark of God’s people is his presence. In times of victory or trouble, his presence is our identity. I know it’s Monday, but Selah: pause, and think about that!

3). God’s assurances are personal and filled with approval. Moses is bold enough to push all the chips into the middle of the table and say, “Show me your glory.” What a strange request when there are so many problems to solve! Today, make time and Selah: pause, and think about that!

4). Finally, even as God himself says, “yes,” to Moses, God offers a gentle instruction. Moses asked, “show me your glory,” and God says, “I will cause my goodness to pass in front of you.” The lesson is: one of the ways God demonstrates his glory is to show us his goodness. Why not ask him today to open your eyes to his goodness?



  1. My team is meditating on this passage now! Hungry for more of His Presence!

  2. Very cool -- there's a place on the Rock where he will both cover us and reveal himself. Blessings to you and your team.

  3. Ray. Here's what's funny (in the stupid human sense). I did not ask, but He showed me anyway. We are in a period of transition (about which I write on my blog today). Change is hard. God's goodness passes before me; His changes are good changes. Thank you.

  4. I just read your post. Wow. You're talking about deep, drastic change--the kind for which I'm not built. But this I love: "God's goodness passes before me; His changes are good changes." Why do we resist the good change? Perhaps the measure of resistance is the measure of fear still in our hearts.

  5. For sure. There are days when I feel like a total moron for not understand Him more than I "should." Why am I surprised by His goodness? Don't know. But I'll take it.

  6. Isn't it amazing how easy it is to overlook the importance of asking God a simple question such as, "Show me your glory?" That doesn't strike me as an obvious request right off the bat if I'm completely honest. Perhaps it seems a little pretentious to even expect God to grant that request. As it turns out, that's one of the most important things we can ask for!

  7. Yep. It's one of the most important things we can ask for. To see his goodness and glory is to be forever changed. I guess that's why Moses was a pretty good example, eh?

  8. Ray, I love the idea of setting aside all of the problems that need to be solved and just wanting to see God's glory. All of the "Selah" pauses seem to fit right in with that!

    Also, I'm wondering about this:

    "The distinguishing mark of God’s people is his presence. In times of victory or trouble, his presence is our identity."

    Does a person have to recognize God and his presence in order for his presence to be our identity? Does this mean God is not present for those who do not identify themselves as one of God's people? My brain is twisting and turning as I try to think this one through...

  9. Hi Kristin:

    I’m so grateful for questions like these, because in our day the issue of God’s presence is so critical for individual believers and churches alike.

    Sometimes you have to go where the text leads you, and make sense of it over time. Exodus 33 is *so* rich. A quick review: God, his feelings hurt by the people of Israel, offers to send angelic protection and warns that his presence would actually be harmful to the people. But Moses would settle for nothing less, even if he himself does not fully understand what he is asking for. Amazingly, God relents. Moses intuitively sees a connection between God’s presence and his glory. That’s fascinating because everyone has seen the works of God--eye-popping works in Egypt, the Sea, and in the wilderness. But somehow God’s works are not enough for Moses. We are all surprised when, after concentrating on presence and glory, God reveals his goodness (!). That’s enough to ponder for months--I don’t pretend to understand the depths of it all.

    Now to your specific questions:
    “Does a person have to recognize God and his presence in order for his presence to be our identity?” Well, someone has to recognize the presence, but it frequently is not the person who carries it. In my personal experience I’ve seen God’s presence rest on people who are unaware of his visitation--both “believers” and “un-believers.” Orthodoxy insists God is omni-present, but our awareness of his presence is something else all together. Jesus fully expects that in the Last Day we may not have been aware that we were serving him--experiencing him--at all. His amazing words in Matthew 25: 31-40 underscore our inability to recognize his presence. We can also experience his presence and mistake it for something else (see John 12: 27-30) This includes Christians, in fact, it may be the central failing of the North American church: His presence is rarely manifest and we do not even feel the lack.

    “Does this mean God is not present for those who do not identify themselves as one of God's people?” I may be guilty of using a shorthand here. The context of the Exodus passage is God’s presence made manifest--something that can be perceived. He is indeed with everyone, but everyone is not always with him. Bono’s riff about “God is among the poor” is more than a rock-star riff, it’s spot on. God is present with everyone: more important, He longs for everyone to be present with him.

    We should settle for nothing less than the experience of his presence. One taste is enough to cause us to hunger for life. We should all wrestle with the lack. You said your “brain was twisting and turning.” So should ours all.