Shew Me Thy Glory

Bible Book: Exodus  33 : 18
Subject: Prayer
Series: Simple, Urgent Prayers

The book of Exodus includes 40 chapters written by Moses somewhere around 1500 B.C. In some respects, it is the autobiography of Moses, God’s chosen deliverer of Israel.


The Exodus took place 430 years from the time they went into Egypt.


A. The Law Ch. 19-24

Civil – Ceremonial - Commandment

B. The Tabernacle Ch. 25-40

1. The Concept (Designed) Ch. 25-31

2. The Complications (Delayed) Ch. 32-33

a. Regression (Israel’s Lapse Into Idolatry) Ch. 32:1-14

b. Retribution (Disciplinary Judgment) Ch. 32:15-29

c. Mediation (Intercession Of Moses) Ch. 32:30-35

d. Rebuke (Israel Rebuked And Tested) Ch. 33:1-11

e. Reassurance (Moses Reassured) Ch. 33:12-23

3. The Completion (Done) Ch. 34-40

As Moses communed with God within the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary called this: “One of the most solemn and mysterious scenes described in the Bible.”

It is a time of prayer and communion as Moses speaks to his God and the God of his people.

I’m interested this morning in how he prayed, and what was the urgent prayer in his petition.

(Exodus 33:18) And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory.

Some of our prayers are very simplistic and have no urgency or heart to them.

Someone sent me a sampling of prayers that children had written.

A little girl named Jane said, “Dear God … Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones Why don’t you just Keep the ones you got now?”

A little boy named Neil said, “Dear God … I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that ok?”

Ruth M. said, “Dear God … I think the stapler is one of your greatest invention.”

Jennifer said, “Dear God … In bible times did they really talk that fancy?”

Elliott said, “Dear God … I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying.”

Robert said, “Dear God … I am Amearican. What are you?”

Joyce said, “Dear God … Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a Puppy.”

Nan said, “Dear God … I bet it is very hard for you to love all of every body in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.”

Ginny said, “Dear God … Please put a-nother Holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now.”

Mickey D. said, “Dear God … If you watch in Church on Sunday, I will show you my new Shoes.”

One little boy said, “God … I would like to live 900 years like the guy in the Bible. Love, Chris.”

Raphael said, “Dear God … If you give me a genie lamp like Alladin, I will give you anything you want except my money or my chess set.”

One little girl said, “We read Thos. Edison made light. But in Sun. School they said you did it. So I bet he stoled your idea. Sincerely, Donna.”

A little boy named Jonathan said, “Dear God … If you let The dinasor not exstinct we would not have a country. You did the right thing.”

Larry said, “Dear God … Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother.”

While Moses’ prayer is a simple prayer, it is also a significant prayer.

I. Let’s Consider The Request For Glory

(Exodus 33:18)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said…

That was a large request for Moses to make. He could not have asked for more. Why, it is the greatest petition that man ever asked of God. It seems to me the greatest stretch of faith that I have either heard or read of. It was great faith which made Abraham go into the plain to offer up intercession for a guilty city like Sodom. It was vast faith which enabled Jacob to grasp the angel; it was mighty faith which made Elijah rend the heavens, and fetch down rain from skies which had been like brass before; but it appears to me that this prayer contains a greater amount of faith than all the others put together. It is the greatest request that man could make to God: “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.”

A. Notice The Circumstantial Nature Of His Request

This request seems almost presumptuous for Moses has seen things that other men could only dream about; yet now he asks for a further revelation. What is Moses going through that prompts him to make this request?

1. The Failure Of The People Prompted This Desire 32:19, 30-31

2. The Future Of The Project Prompted This Desire

For seven chapters and forty days and nights, God has been giving Moses the specifications of this project. Now Moses seems to say, “Lord, before we proceed in this ministry – give me a glimpse of the reality of what we’re laboring for.” I would also commend Moses that he did not say, “Show them my glory.”

 Gordon MacDonald wrote…

The scholars I’ve read find it difficult to put the stories in this section of Exodus in perfect sequence. But I find it significant that what we read next is about a tent Moses pitches known as “the tent of meeting.”

This tent, the writer says, was located “outside the community some distance away.” Its purpose: to be a place where people could go “to inquire of the Lord.” Exodus 33:7 suggests that anyone could approach the tent, but we only hear of Moses doing so.

Why does the writer place the story of the tent right after the calf incident? Perhaps the writer is saying, “This is how Moses maintained his equilibrium in stressful moments.” When everything fell apart, when even his brother, Aaron, momentarily betrayed the cause, Moses had a place to go, where he could reinforce himself in the presence of God.

B. Notice The Critical Nature Of His Request

This is not a vague need that Moses is unaware that he has. This is a “felt” need. He senses his need.

1. He Seems Almost To Be Bargaining 33:12-16

2. He Is Certainly Begging 33:18 “I beseech thee...”

II. Let’s Consider The Response Of God

(Exodus 33:19-23)

A. In God’s Response, He Would Define His Glory

(Exodus 33:19) And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

glory (vs. 18) – Hebrew 3519. kabowd; properly the word meand weight; but only figuratively. in a good sense, splendor or copiousness (abundance):--glorious, honour.

Noah Webster defined “glory” as brightness, luster, splendor, magnificence, also the divine presence. The Scottish preacher Alexander Maclaren said that glory usually refers to “the manifested symbol of God’s presence,” and here it suggests “the uncreated and infinite divine essence.” God defined His glory...

1. God Defined His Glory In Terms Of His Goodness

God’s goodness is His glory; and He will have us to know Him by the glory of His mercy more than by the glory of His majesty. (Matthew Henry)

goodness – Hebrew 2898. tuwb, toob; good (as a noun), in the widest sense, espec. goodness (superl. concr. the best), beauty, gladness, welfare:--fair, gladness, good (-ness, thing, -s), joy, go well with.

2. God Defined His Glory In Terms Of His Graciousness

(In terms of His meekness and His mercy – not His might.)

gracious – Hebrew 2603. chanan; to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow; causat. to implore (i.e. move to favor by petition):-- favour (-able), (be) merciful, have (shew) mercy (on, upon), have pity upon, X very.

Note: “Proclaim the name” – this suggests a proclaiming of the manifested character of God.

B. In God’s Response, He Would Display His Glory

(Exodus 33:20-23) And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. {21} And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: {22} And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: {23} And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

1. God Prescribed A Limitation

(Exodus 33:20) And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

One day, we will see God face to face, but this could not be that day.

(1 Corinthians 13:12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Albert Barnes said, “The glory of the Almighty in its fulness is not to be revealed to the eye of man.”

2. God Permitted A Look

(Exodus 33:21-23) And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: {22} And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: {23} And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

The Wycliffe Commentary says concerning this phrase “See my back parts” in verse 23…

So to say, only the afterglow which He leaves behind Him, but which may still suggest faintly what the full brilliancy of His presence must be.

The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary says…

The back, as contrasted with the face, signifies the reflection of the glory of God that had just passed by.

You’ll notice in Exodus 34:2 that God said concerning this encounter with His glory, “Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.”

III. Let’s Consider The Results Of A Glimpse

(Exodus 34:5-9)

A. This Glimpse Of God Resulted In A Spirit Of Worship

1. This Glimpse Prompted A Worshipful Pursuit Of God

(Exodus 34:9) And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

among – Hebrew 7130. qereb, keh'-reb; properly, it means the nearest part, i.e. the center, whether literal, figurative or adverbial (especially with preposition): -- among, before, bowels, unto charge, eat (up), heart, him, in, inward (X -ly, part, -s, thought), midst, out of, purtenance, therein, through, withinself.

In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer said…

We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. “No man can come to me,” said our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” and it is by this prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him.

2. This Glimpse Prompted A Worshipful Penitence For Guilt

(Exodus 34:9) And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

pardon – Hebrew 5545. calach, saw-lakh'; a prim. root; to forgive:--forgive, spare.

B. This Glimpse Of God Resulted In A Sense Of Wonder

1. Moses Had A New Countenance

(Exodus 34:29) And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

shone – Hebrew 7160. qaran, kaw-ran'; a prim. root; to push or gore; used only as denom. from H7161, to shoot out horns; fig. rays:--have horns, shine.

This may suggest that there were rays of light emanating from around the circle of his face.

2. Moses Had A Nervous Crowd

(Exodus 34:30) And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

afraid – Hebrew 3372. yare', yaw-ray'; a prim. root; to fear; mor. to revere; caus. to frighten:--affright, be (make) afraid, dread (-ful), (put in) fear (-ful, -fully, -ing). (be had in) reverence (-end), X see, terrible (act, -ness, thing).

I would rather have everybody be nervous and God be comfortable in a worship service, than for God to feel unwelcome.


A child’s response to some novelty or curiosity might be heard as they say, “I want to see,” or “Show me.”

We should have that child-like desire for God and His glory to be manifested in our lives.

In 1715 King Louis XIV of France died after a reign of 72 years. He had called himself “the Great,” and was the monarch who made the famous statement, “I am the state!” His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was equally spectacular. As his body lay in state in a golden coffin, orders were given that the cathedral should be very dimly lit with only a special candle set above his coffin, to dramatize his greatness. At the memorial, thousands waited in hushed silence. Then Bishop Massilon began to speak; slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle and said, “Only God is great.”

(Today in the Word, April 1989, p. 24 –