It is my favorite conversation in all of Scripture. It is an exchange between Moses and the LORD God. This Moses who the LORD used to speak to “face to face, as a man speaks to a friend” (Ex. 33:11). The barefoot Moses who was welcomed onto holy ground and invited into the very presence of God. Moses would enter the tent of meeting, the glory of God would descend as a pillar of cloud, and the two would meet (33:9). And in Exodus 33 we get to, in a sense, eavesdrop. The timing of the meeting is after the people’s “great sin” (32:30-31) . . . their building and worshiping of gods of gold, ascribing to these lifeless idols their deliverance from Egypt. The subject of the meeting concerns how to move forward onto the promised land. The LORD has said that, though He would send an angel to accompany the people, He would not go Himself, “lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (33:3). Now, inside the tent, Moses seeks to persuade God otherwise . . . and he plays the grace card.
Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in Your sight, please show me now Your ways, that I may know You in order to find favor in Your sight. Consider too that this nation is Your people.” (Exodus 33:12-13 ESV)
Five times during this conversation in the tent, “favor” is referenced. The word is translated “grace” in the NKJV. The word has the idea of . . . well . . . of grace or favor. And God has told this shepherd of Midian, this deliverer from Egypt, that He knows him by name and that he has found favor in the sight of the LORD. And, from what I’ve been reading in Exodus, I’m thinking, “True statement!”
And so, in the discussion of how to move forward, Moses appeals to the implications of being known by name by God . . . the implications of being favored of God. And so, Moses plays the grace card.
If I have found favor in Your sight, then show me Your ways, that I might know by experience that favor . . . that I might more learn of it’s ways . . . that I might recognize it’s outworking . . . that I might grow in skill in discerning and recognizing such abundant favor. Show me Your ways.
And God “concedes” that those who have found favor can reasonably expect His presence to go with them and that they would know the rest that comes from abiding in a God who knows them by name. And, as Moses presses the point, arguing that the distinguishing characteristic of those who have been shown favor is God’s accompanying presence, God agrees. In a sense, God is “constrained” by grace to go with this stiff-necked people because He has, in His sovereign purposes, determined to know them by name and to show them His favor (33:14-17).
And then, Moses presses the point a bit farther . . . “Please show me Your glory!” (33:18) Yes!!!
The recipient of grace doesn’t play the grace card just to get their own way. They don’t prevail upon the implications of grace so that they might be successful or exalted. But those who have found favor, seek, by that same grace, the presence of God that they might know the glory of God.
O’ how amazing is God’s grace. We boldly approach the throne of grace and there we are ushered into the very presence of God . . . beholding, as it were, the glory of Him who is enthroned in the Holy of Holies.
The grace card . . . may His people “play it” well . . . may they play it often . . . for His glory!