Bible Commentaries

Exodus 33

Verses 1-23

The command to go forward and possess the land was now repeated to the people. It is clear that the people felt that the promise of an angel to be sent before them was the lowering of a privilege. They spoke of it as "evil tidings," and gave expression to their feeling in that they "stripped themselves of their ornaments from mount Horeb onward." It is probable that they never again arrayed themselves with adornments of joy during the wilderness period.

The action of Moses at this point was full of significance. Whereas the Tabernacle could not yet have been built, there was evidently a temporary tent as the center of worship. This Moses took from the center of the people and pitched it outside the camp, a solemn act symbolizing the removal of the presence of God and the consequent excommunication of the people. At that new center Jehovah spoke unto Moses "face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." It was then that Moses asked for some fuller knowledge of God. The gracious promise was given, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Then the cry of Moses was uttered, "If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence."

That cry was again answered with the promise that God would do as His servant asked. Now, made exceeding bold, Moses asked for a vision of God's glory and in reply was told that God would make all His goodness pass before him. The brightest glory of God is ever seen in the outshining of His grace.