Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Oct 22nd)

Pastor's Summary of Exodus 33:12-23

From vv. 7-11, we learn that Moses has pitched the tent of meeting, a place where people could seek God, outside the camp. "the LORD used to speak to Moses...as one speaks to a friend" (v. 11). The golden calf incident has driven a wedge between God and his people; they feel separated from God. Now Moses asks: God, you have told me to lead the people (they were brought out of Egypt), but whom will you"send with me" (v. 12), as a sign of your presence? Our relationship is mutual: I know you and I acknowledge you. Israel is "your people" (v. 13) as well as mine (even if they are disobedient). In another translation, v. 14 is a question: God asks, if my presence were to go with you, would it make you rest easy? Moses answers (v. 15): if you will not be present with us, why did you bring us out here into the desert? How will it be known that you are with us? (v. 16) By being with us, we will be your elect ("distinct", v. 16) people, chosen over other peoples. Moses receives assurance that God will guide Israel (v. 17), becasue of the special relationship between him and their leader.

Moses now seeks to know God better, something closer than friendship, i.e. to see his very glory (v. 18). God does promise him "goodness" (v. 19) and grace ("gracious"), but God chooses to whom he reveals himself ("show mercy...") Moses cannot possibly see God's face: to ancient peoples, to see a god's face was to invite death. Even so, God does grant Moses more knowledge of him than that he gives to others: he will see his "back" (v. 23) but not his face. In Chapter 34, God makes a new pact with the people.

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