Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
My nine year old thinks he knows everything. He’s been like this since his personality first showed signs of emerging years ago, so I think it’s just who he is rather than a phase. Whenever there’s a problem, he boldly proclaims the answer. Whenever you tell him no, he boldly recites a list of reasons why the answer should be yes. Whenever you tell him he’s wrong, he boldly asserts how and why he’s right. My husband and I usually just roll our eyes and move on. But, I must say, I do admire his boldness.
Boldness is an integral part of success. It’s also an integral part of our faith development. God is bold. He can do more than we imagine or even conceive possible. Therefore, we need to be bold in our expectations of him. We need to come to God with a spirit of boldness, asking God to move in ways that we know we are incapable of moving. We need to ask God for big things in our lives (and the lives of others), those things that make us stand back upon completion and say, “Wow! God is amazing!”
In Exodus 33, Moses makes a bold request of God: “Now, show me your presence.” Note the use of the imperative structure in opening clause: show me. Moses isn’t asking God to show himself, he’s demanding it. And that is a supreme act of boldness. Remember that Moses first stood in the Lord’s presence in the wilderness of Midian. God revealed himself in a burning bush, and Moses was terrified. He couldn’t even look at the bush and gave God a whole litany of reasons as to why God should choose someone else to free the Israelites. In his first encounter, Moses was a total coward.
So, what changed? How did Moses go from trembling coward to fearless demander? To put it simply, Moses engaged in a long-term relationship with God. Moses saw God’s power and might over and over again in Egypt. He witnessed God’s saving acts in the sea and the desert. He saw God come through on behalf of his people time and time again. Moses knows God, and this knowledge makes him bold. Moreover, God rewards Moses’ boldness in verse 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.”
God is willing to honor Moses’ demand. The Creator of the universe is going to reveal his glory to a man who didn’t even say please. But…there are consequences to boldness.
Have you ever asked for something you never thought you’d get, and then you get it and it’s nothing like you expected? For me, it’s my children. Parenting is nothing like I expected: it’s beautiful, frustrating, meaningful and terrifying–sometimes all in the same day. I love my children, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, it’s changed my life.
Similarly, we need to understand that boldness in our walk with God will change our lives. God honors Moses’ boldness. He allows Moses to experience his presence. However, God offers Moses this word of caution.
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
God has to protect Moses from the full power of his presence. This should be a clue to Moses that his life is about to fundamentally change. No one encounters the presence of God and comes away unchanged. And so, when Moses descends from the mountain, he is altered. Scripture says that his face is “radiant”, so much so that the Israelites are terrified to come near him. Because of his bold request to God, Moses must veil his face the rest of his life because he has literally been marked by God.
In Moses’ story, we see that the consequence of boldness in our faith is a changed life. We don’t get to make bold requests of God and not experience change ourselves. A bold encounter with God leaves a mark. Sometimes that mark is easily noticeable. It involves a move, a career change, a relationship change or some other change in life’s circumstances. Other times, the change is internal. We become kinder, gentler, more loving, more courageous, more content. The point is, boldness leads to change, and that change is often not the change we expect or anticipate.
This week, as you pray for boldness, I would encourage you to pray also about the change that will take place in your life due to your bold requests. Ask God to help you accept and then embrace the change. Pray for courage to boldly go where God is calling you to go. And then, tell me about it! I’d love to hear the stories about God acting boldly in your life.
Blessings and Peace,