The Power and the Glory (Exodus 33:12-23)
Fifteen or so years ago, Dad had A-Fib and needed an ablation. The cardiologist who did the ablation used a catheter that was far too large for Dad and left him with internal bleeding. Dad was taken to recovery after his procedure. and his blood pressure began to drop. Dad was rushed to emergency surgery—his life hung by the thinnest of threads.
Mom sent me a text that simply read, “Pray hard.” I called Mom, and, through her tears, she filled me in on what was going on. Tammy was putting supper on the table, and there was no way I could eat. I told her what was happening. She put on a happy face, served the boys supper, and simply told them that Dad wasn’t hungry.
I went to my room and cried and begged God to save Dad’s life. I sent an email to the rest of the faculty at the university where I was teaching asking them to pray for Dad’s life. Wil was performing in a school play that night, so Tammy and I did our best to put on happy faces and we went to watch Wil. There was no cell service at the school, so we sat through that play, not knowing if Dad were dead or alive.
So many people were praying for Dad that night, and God saved Dad’s life; he has fully recovered and continues to preach.
Have you ever had a frightening night where you have poured out your soul to God? Did any of you have a loved one with a serious illness and you prayed and prayed and prayed? Did any of you ever face the death of a loved one and cry out to God for strength? Have you ever faced financial hardship—maybe you didn’t even know how you were going to feed your family—and you prayed and prayed and prayed? Did you cry out to God as you watched your children grow, cry out that they would follow the path God had set out for them? Have you ever been laid off and cry out for God’s help in finding something new?
Moses cried out to see God’s power and glory; Moses was facing a huge crisis, and he didn’t know what to do. Because the people have constructed the golden calf, God has said he wouldn’t lead the people to the Promised Land—instead, one of God’s angels would lead them: Exodus 33:2-3.
Moses was stunned: God had called him to lead the people from Egypt to Canaan, but God now said that he wasn’t going with them. Moses responded to his crisis by requesting to see God’s power and glory, and God affirmatively answered Moses’ prayer. Moses demonstrated: “God’s power and glory are revealed through prayer.”
Scripture (Exodus 33:12-23)
Moses reminded God that the Lord had called him to lead the Israelites, but God had not revealed whom he would send to guide Moses. Moses thought God himself was going with Israel, but God now said he would only send an angel, and Moses wanted to know who that angel was going to be.
Moses further prayed that God would show him his ways so that Moses could know God. Moses had a deep desire to know God intimately so that he could serve God all the more.
God promised that his presence would indeed guide Moses and the Israelites.
Moses asked God simply to leave the nation at Sinai if God wasn’t going with them. Moses didn’t wish to take a single step without divine guidance.
God’s going with the people would set them apart from “every other people on the face of the earth.” No other nomadic people had Yahweh, the Creator of all, guiding them.
Again, God promised to lead the people, for Moses had found favor in his sight and God knew him by name. If God did not know Moses to be a righteous man, the Israelites might have been stranded in the wilderness forever!
Moses asked to see God’s glory; God has displayed his mighty power at Sinai, and Moses now wanted to see God’s glory.
God would cause his goodness to pass before Moses, but God’s face can’t be seen by mortal man. God would pass before Moses and put Moses “in a cleft of the rock, and he [would] cover [him] with [his] hand until [the Lord had passed] by.” God answered Moses’ prayer the best he could—Moses couldn’t see God’s face and live but the Lord would show Moses what he could.
“God’s power and glory are revealed through prayer.” Do you wish to see God’s power and glory? God won’t pass in front of you like he did for Moses, but God will show you his power and glory in answered prayer. I saw God’s power and glory when the Lord saved Dad’s life, and all of you have seen God’s power and glory in answered prayer.
How can you see God’s power and glory through prayer?
Pray Selfless Prayers.
Remember the context of Moses’ prayer: He had just found the people worshiping the golden calf. In his anger, God said that he would send an angel before the people, but he himself would not go (Ex 33:2-3). Thus, Moses prayed not only for himself, but he interceded for the nation of Israel. He interceded selflessly for others.
Selfless Prayers will display God’s power and glory. You absolutely can take every care and concern to God in prayer, but you cannot pray self-indulgent prayers: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (Js 4:3).
Jesus prayed for others: he spent the night of his betrayal praying for the disciples and the church (Jn 17). The early church also prayed for others. When Peter was arrested, “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (Acts 12:5). Paul prayed that God might strengthen the Ephesians (Eph 3:14-19). “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” (Col 4:12).
Do you pray Selfless Prayers? Pray for those lost in sin. Pray often for this congregation. Pray for our elders. Pray for those on the prayer list. Pray for me as I preach the Word. Pray for the leaders of this and other nations. Pray Selfless Prayers!
Pray Seeing Prayers.
Moses also prayed to see God: “Please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight” (Ex 33:13) and “Please show me your glory” (Ex 33:18). God answered Moses’ prayer and showed him his power and glory.
What if you prayed Seeing Prayers and asked God to reveal his glory to you? You won’t see some manifestation of God like Moses did, but God has revealed his ways in Scripture.
What if your Seeing Prayer was to understand God’s word? God answers that prayer every time: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (Js 1:5). As long as you ask in faith (Js 1:6-8), God will grant you wisdom every time you ask.
When you sit down with your Bible, pray a Seeing Prayer. Pray for wisdom to understand God’s will. Pray for God to reveal himself to you. Pray for God to show you his ways in order that you might know him.
God heard Moses when he interceded for the Israelites. It’s right and good to intercede for one another: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (Js 5:16). The immediate context of James 5 makes clear that the Lord’s brother was speaking of spiritual sickness that needed prayer and healing. Do you have a spiritual sickness that needs prayer and healing this morning?