Show Me Your Glory

December 25, 2021

Pastor John Hering

Exodus 33:18-24

Exodus 33:18-24

18 Then Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

19 The Lord said, “I will make all my goodness pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord in your presence. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” 20 He said, “You cannot see my face, for no human may see me and live.”

21 The Lord also said, “Look, there is a place next to me, where you shall stand on the rock. 22 It will happen that, while my glory passes by, I will put you in a crevice in the rock. I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back. But my face will not be seen.”

The Lord came down in the cloud. He took his stand there with Moses and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and overflowing with mercy and truth, maintaining mercy for thousands, forgiving guilt and rebellion and sin. He will by no means clear the guilty. He calls their children and their children’s children to account for the guilt of the fathers, even to the third and the fourth generation.”

Everyone hopes they will get something special for Christmas.  Maybe you even made a list of items you’d like to get and hoped you would receive them.  Moses had an interesting item on his Christmas list—he wanted to see God’s glory!  We talk about the “Glory of the Lord” at Christmas, so this isn’t all that strange of a request.  The Glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds.  We heard about the Glory of the Lord in all three of our readings this Christmas morning.  We talk and sing about the Glory of the Lord, but Moses wanted to see something more than we’re probably thinking about. Moses had a friendship with God.  The Bible says that, The Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend (Ex 33:11).  They had dialogue, discussed and sometimes even debated.  But, besides this face-to-face discussion Moses wanted more.  He wanted to see what he had not yet seen.  He wanted to know more about God—his thinking, his essence, what made God tick, so he said, Show Me Your Glory!

Who wouldn’t? Wouldn’t you love to sit down at God at your kitchen table and have a real back and forth Q & A with God?  What questions would you like to ask?  What keeps the universe moving in perfect harmony?  Were there dinosaurs on the Ark?  What is heaven like?  And then there are those tough questions: Why do you let deadly tornadoes kill so many people?  Why do you let bad nations threaten good ones?  Why do you let terrorists drive cars into parades and kill people?  Why do you let bad sickness infect good people?  I could see myself asking these questions.  Moses summed up these questions when he said,

Show Me Your Glory

To See God’s Best

When Moses and God had conversations more often than not it had to do with leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt. They were a headache!  It all came to a boil at Mt Sinai with thunder and lightning, thick clouds and loud trumpets. There God gave his gospel covenant for the Nation of Israel to adopt them as his people, and gave them his law covenant—the 10 Commandments inscribed by the finger of God.  But, you know how the story goes.  The people were at the bottom of the mountain worshiping a golden calf.  God was furious.  He was ready to destroy them all.  That’s when we See God’s Best.

God tested Moses to see how he would react to God’s threats.  And that’s when we see Moses at his Best.  God was ready to destroy these rebellious people and said he would make a great nation from Moses.  But, Moses told God to remember his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the promise of a Savior he had made to them (Ex 32:9-13). The Lord loved Moses and he remembered his promise.  That is when God tells Moses, I will also do this thing that you have said, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name (Ex 33:17). But, Moses wanted one more thing, one more guarantee.  He wanted to go where no one else had gone. Moses requested, Please show me your glory.

That wasn’t going to happen. 19 The Lord said, “I will make all my goodness pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord in your presence. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” 20 He said, “You cannot see my face, for no human may see me and live.  God was willing to guarantee his promises in a spectacular way.  He would let Moses get close and See His Best allowed for a sinful Moses: Look, there is a place next to me, where you shall stand on the rock. 22 It will happen that, while my glory passes by, I will put you in a crevice in the rock. I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back. But my face will not be seen.

So, let’s say all the best and brightest at NASA develop a spacecraft able to travel 93 million miles to the sun.  They spend trillions on support systems to achieve this trip to the sun.  But, they never make it. Everything melts in the heat of the sun.  And that pales in comparison to what it would be like for a sinful person to stand in the presence of our holy God.

Now, is the time for us to take God’s Word seriously.  Wanting To see the Full Glory of God is not taking God’s glory seriously.  Maybe that’s because we like to think of God as just a big version of us.  But, the essence of God is not like us.  There are no words for sinful humans to comprehend God’s Glory.  Oh, St Paul wrote to Timothy concerning Jesus Christ in all his glory: until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will make known at the proper time—the blessed and only ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or is able to see. To him be honor and power forever! Amen (1 Tim 6:14-15).  Just like Moses, if the Lord would reveal the full essence of his glory to us on this earth, we would melt like a moth in a bonfire!

But, like Moses, if you want God to Show You The Best of His Glory, then learn this important lesson from Exodus.  God would not consume Moses with his full glory, but he would do better.  God Showed His Glory in order for Moses

To Hear God’s Name

It is time.  Are you ready to join Moses and the Lord for a Christmas experience that surpasses all others?  Are you ready to see God’s glory? The Lord came down in the cloud. He took his stand there with Moses and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and overflowing with mercy and truth, maintaining mercy for thousands, forgiving guilt and rebellion and sin. He will by no means clear the guilty. He calls their children and their children’s children to account for the guilt of the fathers, even to the third and the fourth generation.  This is God’s Christmas sermon for you.  God’s sermon has two parts. First, The Lord is perfectly loving and promises to forgive all our sins.  Second, the Lord is perfectly just and threatens to punish unbelievers.  There it is.  You see into the mind of our Glorious Lord God!   The Lord loves sinners and the Lord hates sinners—law and gospel.  Do you see God’s Glory?  Moses could not see God in all his glory and live.  Moses could not hear the full glory of God and fathom it.  But, God has graciously revealed his glory to you.  Look!  It’s right there in the manger, born in Bethlehem!

Listen to His Name and you will hear the glory of God.  Mary gave birth to her son, and her husband—who wasn’t the baby’s father, gave him the Name Above All Other Names—Jesus Christ.  Immanuel.  God With Us!  This child grew up and obeyed his parents, perfectly; he respected God’s house of worship, perfectly;  He was loyal to his friends, perfectly; He was kind to strangers who needed help, perfectly; He did what we could never do—lived a perfect life as the Son of Man, and with his powerful blood as the Son of God.  John wrote: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning….14 The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. [Are you ready to see and hear this?] We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1,14).  Look!  There in the manger God Shows You His Glory because you Hear His Name and you call Jesus your Savior!  All praise and honor and thanks and glory to God for Jesus Christ died on the cross to wash away our sin.  Jesus Christ died on the cross to give us the holiness we need to that some day you and I will stand before God in all his Glory!

Everyone hopes they will get something special for Christmas.  I don’t know that you put, “I want to see God’s Glory” on your Christmas list, but today God gave you his Christmas gift of grace.  God lets you see his glory because you see the CHRIST of CHRISTmas.  There in the manger you see God’s perfect justice satisfied when Jesus offered his perfect life for you.  And you see God’s perfect forgiveness when Jesus offers his perfect life as your substitute for you.  When you know and believe in the Person of Jesus Christ, all the other questions of life seem to pale.  We know the bad things that happen in this world are due to living in a sinful world.  We know our heartaches and sadness comes from the curse of sin.  But, we look into the manger to answer the question: What Child is This?  This is God in the Flesh!  Christmas Day serves up the deep stuff of Christmas: the miracle and mystery of the incarnation.   

There is glory all around us on this Christmas Day.  We love our family, our friends, the gifts, food and festivities of Christmas.  But, you see God’s Glory.  You see God who gave you his best, because you know God’s name.  Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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