“Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;” (Exodus 33:21)
God granted to Moses his heartfelt petition, “Show me your glory!” Moses had walked a long time in obedience to God and knew somewhat of His Presence, yet he recognized that there was more to beholding the glory of God than what he had seen. As all who have tasted of the goodness of God, Moses, the great lawgiver, knew no deeper longing than to behold his Lord through unveiled eyes. The heart which has caught a glimpse of God’s glory is not satisfied in seeing the glorious Presence of the Lord in reflections or shadows.
But to look upon the face of God is something not permitted to those living on this Earth (verse 20), even such a one as Moses. For our sin-stained mortal flesh to look upon the full glory of God would result in our being consumed by it. Therefore, God provided two “filters” whereby Moses could look upon His glory.
First, God told Moses that He would cover him as He passed by and would allow Moses to see, not His face, but His back. God would allow Moses to see a partial glory, or representation of His glory after He had passed by. Though we may not know as much from looking upon someone’s back as we would by seeing their face, it is still possible to recognize someone that way. What we have here is an image of God’s glory; Moses saw the glory of God, but not in its fullness.
“[Jesus] being the brightness of [God’s] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:” (Hebrews 1:3 KJV)
“For in [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9)
Jesus Christ is the express Image of God the Father’s glory and we see a foreshadowing of this in the Glory which Moses beheld. For just as both the Face and the Back belong to the same God, so does the second Person of the Trinity belong to the same “Body” as God the Father. Moses did not behold the Face (the Father) of the Godhead, but he did behold the Back (the Son). Moses looked upon a physical manifestation or Theophany of God and this is exactly what we find in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, God told Moses: “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock.” Moses could behold the glory of God only so long as he was standing on the Rock. Fortunately, what a Rock symbolizes throughout much of the Old Testament we are not left to guess at. Paul, in Romans 9:33, refers to Jesus Christ in his quotation of Isaiah 28:16 and says of our Lord:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
Again, in 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul declares Christ to be the Rock from which the Hebrews drank in the Wilderness. Peter, in 1 Peter 2:6-8, also identifies Jesus as the Rock to Whom Isaiah’s prophecy refers. Moses himself identifies God as The Rock in his great song of Deuteronomy 32. This gives the instructions of the Lord to Moses to “Stand on the Rock” great significance. Behold, there is a Place by Me, that is, Christ Who is seated beside the Father, and you shall stand on the Rock, that is, it is through the Person of Jesus Christ that we may behold the glory of God.
Not only is it through Christ that we behold the glory of God, Christ is the glory which we behold. We may be satisfied in beholding that glory because the glory of Christ is the glory of God.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 KJV)
To Jesus Christ, the express Image of God’s eternal glory, goes all glory both now and forever,
In service to Him,
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]