************ Sermon on Exodus 34:5-7 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on December 14, 1997

Exodus 33 - 34:7
Exodus 34:5-7
"Today We See God"

How many people, do you think, have ever lived on earth? Perhaps 8 or 9 billion people. Of all these people only five, while in the flesh, have ever seen God face to face. Out of the billions who have ever lived only five have seen God as He really is, in all His glory, power, holiness, and grace. Who are these five? Adam and Eve before the Fall into sin, Enoch, Elijah, and Christ Jesus.

I wonder if anyone here has ever thought of meeting God face to face? What would that be like? I am certain this would be a most powerful and wonderful experience; I am sure it would have a most dramatic effect on our life.

All of us have heard about God. We know His promises and His Word. And we all know that here on earth we must live by faith and not by sight. But wouldn't it be wonderful, even for just a moment, to see God? It isn't easy to always live by faith. It would be nice if once in a while we could actually see what we believe.

We believe that there is a God and that He loves us. We believe that God forgives us our sin when we cry out to Him, even though our sin may sometimes seem like a mountain. We believe that by grace we are God's people. We believe that God cares for us. We believe that God is with us always. We believe that God's every word and promise is true. All of these and many other things we believe by faith and not by sight. But wouldn't it be nice, even for a moment, to see God face to face?
Topic: God
Subtopic: Vision of
Index: 507
Date: 7/1995.101

There was a little girl named Schia. She had always been told that she came from God. When Schia was 4 years old, her baby brother was born. Little Schia began to ask her parents to leave her alone with the new baby. They worried that, like most 4-year-olds, she might want to hit or shake him, so they said no. Over time, though, since Schia wasn't showing signs of jealousy, they changed their minds and decided to let Schia have her private conference with the baby. Elated, Schia went into the baby's room and shut the door, but it opened a crack-- enough for her curious parents to peek in and listen. They saw little Schia walk quietly up to her baby brother, put her face close to his, and say, "Baby, tell me what God feels like. I'm starting to forget."
Like Schia, we all want to know and remember what God feels like.

I Moses Asked to See God
A Moses was a person like us. There were times when he was very close to God, very sure of God. But there were also times when he felt uncertain and spiritually dry. Moses had been on a mountain top with God, but he also struggled through some deep valleys.

One day Moses could not live with these ups and down anymore. He wanted to be done with his questions and uncertainties. He wanted God to come out of hiding. He wanted to see all there is of God and to see it now. "Now show me your glory," Moses said to God (Ex 33:18). "Show me your face; show me Yourself in all Your glory, power, might, wisdom, honor, and blessing. Let me see You, God."

B Why did Moses make this request? Why did He demand to see God face-to-face? What brought this on? Very simply, Israel had committed a terrible sin. Moses had been on the mountain with God too long. So the people made a golden calf and declared, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt" (Ex 32:4). And then they fell down and worshiped the calf.

The living God of Israel saw this grievous sin. Our God Who hates all sin and evil witnessed this sin of the people He had led out of Egypt. The Lord said to Moses,
(Ex 32:9-10) "I have seen these people ... and they are a stiff-necked people. (10) Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation."
But Moses had pleaded with God. Moses offered to give his life for the life of the people (Ex 32:32). So finally "the Lord relented and did not bring on the people the disaster he had threatened" (Ex 32:14). At the same time, though, the Lord swore that He would not go with the people anymore, lest He consume them (Ex 33:3). Instead, He would send an angel to lead the people to Canaan:
(Ex 33:3) I will send an angel before you ... But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff- necked people and I might destroy you on the way.

For Moses, and for the people, an angel was not enough. Of course not! For what is life without God? What is life if God Himself does not go with us? What's the use of going on then? So the people mourned and took off their ornaments (Ex 33:4,6) and Moses continued to plead. You see, Moses believed far too strongly in the faithfulness of God to ever believe that God would give up on His people, to ever believe that God would let His people go on without Him, no matter how greatly they had sinned. So, on the basis of that faithfulness Moses pleaded with God to once again be with His people. Moses did this pleading in the Tent of Meeting which was outside the camp. It was outside the camp because God could not dwell in the midst of such a sinful people.

God heard the pleas of Moses. God said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex 33:14).

It was when God said this that Moses asked to see His glory, to see Him face to face. Moses wanted to know once for all that God was really with him and Israel. Moses wanted to know for sure that God would forgive Israel. "Give me proof, God, that what You say to me is true. Show Yourself to me and I will believe what You say."

C God agreed to this request. However, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Ex 33:20). Why? Because the holiness and majesty of God on the one hand, and the unworthiness of man on the other, means that man cannot see God in all His glory without being completely destroyed. Sinful, unworthy man cannot look upon the holy, glorious God and live.

II Moses Saw God
In a cleft of rock on Mt. Sinai, in a mysterious and wonderful revelation, God showed Moses what he wanted to see. The Lord passed by Moses, and for the second time (cf Ex 3:14 for 1st time) proclaimed His name and revealed His person to Moses
(Ex 34:6) The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished ...

So God let Moses see His back and hear His name. We do not know exactly what Moses saw and experienced on the mountain top. But whatever he saw and experienced must have been fantastic and awesome, the deepest religious experience of his life. Do you remember what Moses had to do when he came down from the mountain? He had to put a veil over his face (Ex 34:33). His face was so radiant because he had spoken with the Lord that the people were afraid to come near him (Ex 34:29,30).

For Moses this experience was enough; this was all that he needed. Now he knew he had found favor in God's sight. Now he knew that God's presence would go with him and Israel. Now he knew God truly had forgiven Israel her sin. Now he was convinced again that God was and is and always will be the Faithful One.

A Now, what about us? Like Moses we also have our ups and downs and need to see God as well.

This past week we have examined ourselves and, like Israel, we know we have sinned against God. We know that our faith is not always what it should be. We too have our worries, doubts, and questions. Tragedies, death, loss, bad times, and illness do strike us from time to time. So, it is quite natural for us all to wonder at times: "Is God with me? Is He with us?"

At times like these we, perhaps, want to see God. We need and want proof of His presence with us through those low times of life when we walk through the valley of death, despair, sin, and loss.

B Well, congregation, today God lets us see Him. He answers our prayers. No, we will not see His face today. We will not see God in His full glory. For that would be too much for us to see. We could not stand that and God could not allow that. But God does let us see enough of Him, He lets us see what we need, in the Lord's Supper.

Exactly what is it that we see in the Lord's Supper? A blinding vision? No, just some pieces of bread and a cup of wine. So simple, so common. But also His sign and seal of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus, the second person of the holy Godhead.

This is God's message here. In the bread and wine that we see, touch, taste, and smell we meet God Himself. And this God that we meet proclaims His name and reveals His person to us just as He did to Moses. Who is this God that we meet in the Lord's Supper. He is ...
(Ex 34:6) the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished ...
Notice, He is compassionate and gracious and faithful. Yet, this does not mean that He leaves sin unpunished. Of course not! He demands payment for sin. But for His people as the Lord's Supper shows us that payment was and is and always will be the blood of Jesus.

C In the bread and wine we see the message that God the compassionate and gracious and faithful is with us. The Lord's Supper is God's message to us that in Christ He is with us, even to the end of the age. In Christ, the Lord makes His tent, His home, not far away from us, not outside our camp, but in our hearts and in this congregation of believers. The Lord is in our midst this evening. He is with us. The bread and wine is His assurance that He has constant and daily fellowship with us and we with Him. He is with us and forgives us in Christ.

The Lord's Supper is also God's assurance that there will come a day when we will see God as He is, face to face, in all His glory, love, might, and power.

However, right now, today, we live not by sight but by faith. And, if we only have that faith then right now in the Lord's Supper we can enjoy fellowship with God. If we only have faith then today and every day we can meet God's name and person:
(Ex 34:6) The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished ...

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