Exodus 33

1 The LORD spoke to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people that you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ 2 I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 3 to a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up amongst you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I consume you on the way.” 4 When the people heard this evil news, they mourned: and no one put on his jewelery. 5 The LORD said to Moses, “Tell the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go up into the middle of you for one moment, I would consume you. Therefore now take off your jewelery from you, that I may know what to do to you.’” 6 The children of Israel stripped themselves of their jewelery from Mount Horeb onward. 7 Now Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp, and he called it “The Tent of Meeting.” Everyone who sought the LORD went out to the Tent of Meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 When Moses went out to the Tent, that all the people rose up, and stood, everyone at their tent door, and watched Moses, until he had gone into the Tent. 9 When Moses entered into the Tent, the pillar of cloud descended, stood at the door of the Tent, and spoke with Moses. 10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud stand at the door of the Tent, and all the people rose up and worshiped, everyone at their tent door. 11 The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. He turned again into the camp, but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, didn’t depart from the Tent. 12 Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, you tell me, ‘Bring up this people:’ and you haven’t let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your way, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight: and consider that this nation is your people.” 14 He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 He said to him, “If your presence doesn’t go with me, don’t carry us up from here. 16 For how would people know that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Isn’t it that you go with us, so that we are separated, I and your people, from all the people who are on the surface of the earth?” 17 The LORD said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have spoken; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 He said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the LORD’s name before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” 20 He said, “You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live.” 21 The LORD also said, “Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 It will happen, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23 then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–6

Those whom God pardons, must be made to know what their sin deserved. “Let them go forward as they are;” this was very expressive of God’s displeasure. Though he promises to make good his covenant with Abraham, in giving them Canaan, yet he denies them the tokens of his presence they had been blessed with. The people mourned for their sin. Of all the bitter fruits and consequences of sin, true penitents most lament, and dread most, God’s departure from them. Canaan itself would be no pleasant land without the Lord’s presence. Those who parted with ornaments to maintain sin, could do no less than lay aside ornaments, in token of sorrow and shame for it.

Verses 7–11

Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp. This seems to have been a temporary building, set up for worship, and at which he judged disputes among the people. The people looked after him; they were very desirous to be at peace with God, and concerned to know what would come to pass. The cloudy pillar which had withdrawn from the camp when it was polluted with idolatry, now returned. If our hearts go forth toward God to meet him, he will graciously come to meet us.

Verses 12–23

Moses is very earnest with God. Thus, by the intercession of Christ, we are not only saved from ruin, but become entitled to everlasting happiness. Observe here how he pleads. We find grace in God’s sight, if we find grace in our hearts to guide and quicken us in the way of our duty. Moses speaks as one who dreaded the thought of going forward without the Lord’s presence. God’s gracious promises, and mercy towards us, should not only encourage our faith, but also excite our fervency in prayer. Observe how he speeds. See, in a type, Christ’s intercession, which he ever lives to make for all that come to God by him; and that it is not by any thing in those for whom he intercedes. Moses then entreats a sight of God’s glory, and is heard in that also. A full discovery of the glory of God, would overwhelm even Moses himself. Man is mean, and unworthy of it; weak, and could not bear it; guilty, and could not but dread it. The merciful display which is made in Christ Jesus, alone can be borne by us. The Lord granted that which would abundantly satisfy. 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. Upon the rock there was a fit place for Moses to view the goodness and glory of God. The rock in Horeb was typical of Christ the Rock; the Rock of refuge, salvation, and strength. Happy are they who stand upon this Rock. The cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as smitten, crucified, wounded, and slain. What follows, denotes the imperfect knowledge of God in the present state, even as revealed in Christ; for this, when compared with the heavenly sight of him. is but like seeing a man that is gone by, whose back only is to be seen. God in Christ, as he is, even the fullest and brightest displays of his glory, grace, and goodness, are reserved to another state.

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