(Exo 33:1 NASB) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’
(Exo 33:2 NASB) “And I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.
Exo 33:2: Moses just made a plea for the people. He asked that if He could not forgive them, that his name be blotted out of the Book of Life (Exodus 32:31-34)..
(Exo 33:3 NASB) “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, lest I destroy you on the way.”
Exo 33:3: It would appear from this response that Elohim is turning down that request from Moses. Elohim says that He will send an angel to defeat their enemies, but He will not go with them.
(Exo 33:4 NASB) When the people heard this sad word, they went into mourning, and none of them put on his ornaments.
Exo 33:4: The people went into mourning and would not put on jewelry or any adorning or decorative item. This was an appropriate sign of mourning for them because their sin involved their ornaments from which they made the golden calf (Exodus 32:2-4)..
(Exo 33:5 NASB) For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the sons of Israel, ‘You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I will do with you.'”
Exo 33:5: Elohim not being in their presence was for their own safety. If He goes amongst them for one moment, He would destroy them all.
He wants them to leave off their jewelry while He decides what to do with them.
(Exo 33:6 NASB) So the sons of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments from Mount Horeb onward.
Exo 33:6: This was a wise move. They did not want that which helped enable them to sin to be a part of them any longer.
(Exo 33:7 NASB) Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And it came about, that everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp.
Exo 33:7: This was not the Tabernacle because it was not yet constructed. It was probably Moses’ tent which he set up. Elohim was not going to commune in the camp with Israel. If someone wanted to seek Elohim, they had to go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. Verses 7-11 are parenthetical and explain the manner which Moses communicated with Elohim. The account from verse 6 picks up in verse 12.
(Exo 33:8 NASB) And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent.
(Exo 33:9 NASB) And it came about, whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses.
Exo 33:9: This temporary substitute for the Tabernacle was the meeting place for Elohim and Moses. With the Tent of Meeting, the pillar of cloud would not stay above the tent, it would descend and stand at the entrance when Moses entered the tent.
(Exo 33:10 NASB) When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent.
(Exo 33:11 NASB) Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Exo 33:11: The method of revelation to Moses was very different than it was to the prophets. This same expression is used in Deut. 34:10. It is also said that Elohim spoke with Moses “mouth to mouth” (Num. 12:6-8). Other prophets that proceeded after Moses received the Word of Elohim in dreams, visions, or dark sayings. It was only Moses and Yeshua who spoke directly with the Father and gave the Words to the people..
This is why it is so important to view Scripture with Torah as the foundation. The words of Moses were given to him in the most direct manner possible. This makes the words of Moses weightier than those of any other prophet.
Yeshua Himself said that the Words of Moses are the most important and convincing of all (Luke 16:31). To deny Torah is to deny the most direct Words and Instructions of Elohim.
(Exo 33:12 NASB) Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, Thou dost say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But Thou Thyself hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Moreover, Thou hast said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’
Exo 33:12: Elohim said an angel would deliver them from their enemies when they enter the land. Moses had no idea if this was a man or a celestial being. He is supposed to bring up this people, but he has no idea exactly what he is supposed to do.
(Exo 33:13 NASB) “Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found favor in Thy sight, let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight. Consider too, that this nation is Thy people.”
Exo 33:13: Moses knows how to find favor in the sight of Elohim. The way to do this is to know His ways.
These words should ring true in our lives: “let me know Your ways, that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight.” If we want to know the person of Elohim, His personality, His attributes, and His desire in the governance of His people, we are to know and follow His ways (Psalm 86:11-12, 119:33-36, Col. 1:9-10).
Moses is still beseeching Elohim on behalf of the people. He wants them to remember that this nation is His people.
(Exo 33:14 NASB) And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exo 33:14: Elohim comforts Moses on his personal request and does not really address the issue of the people at this point.
(Exo 33:15 NASB) Then he said to Him, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.
(Exo 33:16 NASB) “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not by Thy going with us, so that we, I and Thy people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
Exo 33:16: Moses is not willing to separate himself from his people. He uses phrases like “us” and “we.” He wants to be tied with his people and use his position with Elohim to intercede on their behalf.
(Exo 33:17 NASB) And the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight, and I have known you by name.”
Exo 33:17: This seems to be an acknowledgement from Elohim that they can go ahead and build the Tabernacle. But the favor of Elohim toward Moses saved the people. This is another similarity between Moses and Yeshua.
(Exo 33:18 NASB) Then Moses said, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!”
(Exo 33:19 NASB) And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”
Exo 33:19: Elohim will only reveal Himself to those whom He chooses. It is His decision whom to be gracious to and to whom He will show compassion. He does not owe anyone anything. If He chooses to be merciful to some, then that is purely out of His graciousness.
(Exo 33:20 NASB) But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”
(Exo 33:21 NASB) Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;
(Exo 33:22 NASB) and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.
(Exo 33:23 NASB) “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
Exo 33:23: Elohim is going to reveal Himself to Moses again. He revealed Himself the first time when He burned the mountaintop in order to make a covenant with the people. The people broke the covenant and now He is going to re-establish that covenant with the people and reveal Himself to Moses once more and in an even more direct fashion.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas