What does it mean to be in God’s presence? For Moses, in the Old Testament it might be lethal.
Our Old Testament lesson this week comes from Exodus, to be exact it is Exodus 33:12-23. It is the story of Moses asking God to show Moses God’s glory. God say, “Okay, but if you actually look at me, look at my face, you won’t survive.” God’s solution is to put Moses in a cleft in a rock on the mountain and pass by Moses and let him see God from behind.
This is a peculiar story for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is the degree of anthropomorphism it can create in us. It can be very difficult to not ascribe human, physical characteristics to God to make sense of this story. I would suggest it might not be the most helpful thing however. I suggest in today’s sermon we think of Moses seeing the aftermath of God’s presence.
It is a theological truism that we are never out of God’s presence but it doesn’t necessarily follow that there aren’t times when we are more aware of God’s presence or even that God is more present with us. The point I try to make is we sometimes are unaware of God’s presence and see the evidence of it in retrospect. Let me know if I got close enough to convince you.
“God’s presence” Knox and St. Mark’s Presbyterian joint service (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
Photo credit: This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND
marilyn ulriksen says
Hi Barry, thanks for your words and thoughts, ‘ from the middle.’
Yes you have shown me that often I see the the results of the wind after it has past.
Can’t see the wind [God].