Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight (Exodus 33:13).
I get chill bumps every time I read this verse. Partly because of the surrounding context: in the verse before, Moses quotes God’s declaration to him “I know you by name, and you have found favor in my sight” (Exodus 33:12). In the verse following, God speaks again to Moses and says, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). In the next three verses Moses begs, and God promises, the presence of God with him wherever he goes (Exodus 33:15-17).
All this leads to Moses’ impassioned plea: “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). Something about God’s past grace and promise of his future faithfulness led Moses to beg for the privilege of viewing his majesty.
Another reason that this verse never fails to send a thrill up my spine is that it is a constant reminder that Moses did nothing to deserve, or even pursue after, the grace which he first found in God’s sight.
Why was he saved from among the many male children in Egypt that were slain? Why was he privileged to grow up protected in Pharaoh’s household? Why was he chosen to deliver and guide the children of Israel? Where did the faith and meekness that characterized his life come from? It was all because of grace. He did not find favor because he was looking for it, but because God’s favor found him.
Something about God’s past grace and promise of his future faithfulness led Moses to beg for the privilege of viewing his majesty.
This verse also is a constant reminder to me that God’s grace, given in the past, did not lead Moses to apathy, but rather to a single-minded pursuit of God. The fact that Moses had already found favor in the eyes of God moved him to a desire to find more favor in the eyes of God!
The same thing should be true of every one of God’s children. Nothing should render our Lord more beautiful, more desirable, or more magnificent in our eyes than the fact that we, as undeserving sinners, ever found grace in his sight. Sadly, the opposite is too often true: we have a diminished view of grace, simply because it is entirely free.
That is not the way Moses reacted. God’s promise of future grace led Moses to pray, “Show me now your ways.” He didn’t just want to be carried to heaven “on flowery beds of ease,” as the hymnwriter said, but rather was filled with an urgent desire to serve God in the Now, at the present, without putting if off a moment longer. In doing so — in realizing God’s will for his life day by day — Moses knew that he would come to know God more intimately than ever before.
“That I may know you” was the sincere ambition of Moses’ life, to the end that he would find grace in God’s sight and behold God’s glory.
Does Moses’ desire to know God better sound familiar? It was also the driving motivation behind Paul’s life and ministry: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … that I may know him” (Philippians 3:8, 10).
What a clear mission both of these men had! Having had a taste of Christ, they wanted more of him; having caught a glimpse of God’s glory, they wanted to see him completely; having found grace in God’s sight, they wanted nothing more than to continue finding grace in his sight.
There is something about the grace of God that is addictive: once you have experienced it, everything else is, to your heart, filth and foolishness by comparison. We inwardly crave more of heaven and less of earth, once even a fraction of heaven’s blessings have been experienced.
He did not find favor because he was looking for it, but because God’s favor found him.
By faith Moses is lifted to the highest altitude of aspiration when he prays to find grace, to know God, and to behold God’s glory. As Charles Spurgeon said, “He could not have asked for more … It is the greatest request that man could make to God: I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.” What ambition!
A few years ago, NBC’s Today show featured a special entitled: Live for Today: Things to Do Before You Die. Viewers were asked what things they most wanted to accomplish in their life time. Answers ranged from driving in a NASCAR race, to performing on Broadway, to going on an African safari. Interestingly, no one replied with Moses’ heart cry: “I want to find grace in the sight of God!”
What about you? If you were asked, “What is your dream? What is the highest height to which you have aspired?” would your answer be to find grace in the sight of God and to see his glory?
O Lord Jesus, may this be our hearts’ truest desire and fondest ambition.