Moses knew that the law wasn't enough. Moses knew that favor with God wasn't enough. Moses knew that miracles weren't enough. Take a moment and read these three accounts of Moses' conversations with God.
Exodus 33:14-15 NIV The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (15) Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
Exodus 33:18-23 NIV Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." (19) And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (20) But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." (21) Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. (22) When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. (23) Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."
Exodus 34:5-7 NIV Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. (6) And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, (7) maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."
Moses asks for two things beyond favor, miracles and laws: Presence and Glory. Moses wanted an experience of God that had a "PG" rating at its foundation. Nothing else would do. God can do great "things" but Moses wanted to know the God of the things with great intimacy. Moses sought to see just how close God would allow Him to get. Israel may have wanted deliverance but Moses wanted the Deliverer. Israel wanted freedom from slavery, but Moses wanted to be a bondservant of the Master. Israel sought an image to worship, but Moses wanted to live in the presence of the One who made us in His image.
Presence is closeness and nearness.
Glory is the weight of holiness and purity and majesty.
Think about your own experience with God. How much of it is run through filters of church, people, methods, programs, titles, who-said-what, who-hurt-whom, what-we're-doing, what-we're-not-doing, me, my calling, my abilities, discontent, contentment, music style, etc.? If anything in this list hits home for you and rises above the greater desires of presence and glory, then you have an "R-Rated" experience... Religious.
The stream of God never runs from religion into His Presence and Glory. The stream always runs from presence and glory into a living religion. The test to see if your religion flows out of presence and glory can be found as the LORD Himself proclaims His "Name" to Moses... which was NOT an identifier, but a list of His character traits and qualities. Compassionate ... gracious ... slow to anger ... abounding in love and faithfulness .... maintaining love ... forgiving wickedness ... that is the kind of God we serve and worship. Does the stream of your life flow with the same things that flow from God? If you have a "PG" experience with God, then yes, it will. However, if you've exchanged His presence and glory for an "R-rated" religious experience, the flow of your life may not line up with God's character and holiness.
These are two things that have never changed with God. Old Covenant or New, Israel or the NT Church, in Eden or the New Jerusalem, in the Temple of old or in the temple within each true believer, the presence and glory of God is the hallmark of authentic experience and worship.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.