“And He said, I will cause all of my goodness to pass over your face. And I will invoke my name in your presence, that is, I will show favor upon those who I will show favor to and I will show compassion upon those to whom I will show compassion.’”
Note the response of God. Moses asks to see the glory of God, yet God offers to pass all his goodness over Moses. While there are some who would equate God’s glory with his goodness, God’s glory is far more comprehensive that that. Indeed, God is glorified in the goodness that he demonstrates to all the earth as well as the goodness that he demonstrates to his people. Yet, God is also glorified in his wrath and judgment of his enemies. God is glorified in the discipline that he gives to his people, and God is glorified in his electing people for grace and passing over others for condemnation. Oh, how so many of God’s people have developed an anemic vision of the glory of God! Oh, that we might put spiritual meat on our bones and rejoice in all of the activities of our God, even when we have difficulty coming to terms with what good can come about from them.
So why is it that God chooses to show his glory to Moses by passing his goodness by? Could not have God revealed the fullness of his glory? The answer is twofold. First, the human mind, finite as it is, is simply not capable of taking in and understanding the full glory of God—it is a simple impossibility. The full glory of God would overwhelm us—I might even suggest that we might die as a result. Thus God is gracious in controlling how we are shown his glory so that we can comprehend what it is that he is showing us.
And secondly, it is God’s goodness that is promised to God’s people; the wrath of God is reserved for his enemies. God’s presence here is not meant to intimidate (as in other cases), but it is meant to bless. Thus, God blesses Moses with a revelation of his goodness in such a way that God’s glory is revealed in an edifying way rather than in a way which would break him.
Beloved, let us rest in the revelation of God’s glory. Ultimately, he has revealed his glory in his Son, Jesus Christ, and he has given us his word that we might know him deeply and intimately. Here is a God who is just and righteous and holy, yet he meets us where we are, not only meeting our needs, but blessing us beyond our ability to comprehend. Oh, dear saint, enjoy the revelation of God; immerse yourself in it—his word is life and he has made it available to you and me. Take and drink.