Divine purpose and calling are a strong focus for our family of churches and ministries at this time. Without called people—volunteer or credentialed—the mission we have been given as God’s people will not be accomplished. We are “The Called Ones” who only demonstrate the Lord’s greatness, love and grace when we align with His purposes.
How we respond as a church or ministry—individual or family—when confronted by a major setback will inevitably determine if we fulfil our divine purpose and calling. The question is not, “Will the setbacks come?” but “Will we obediently persevere to see God’s kingdom come and will be done in us and our context?”
In Exodus 33:17, 18 we read Moses’s passionate cry in response to the Lord’s affirmation of him. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’ Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’”
This affirmation of Moses takes place in the middle of a very challenging season in his life and leadership. Moses and his brother, Aaron, are on a mission to lead God’s covenant people to the land of promise so that they may reveal YHWH to the nations.
Because of the Almighty, the people of promise have experienced their exodus (deliverance through the Red Sea), provision (miraculous bread and water), and the awesome presence of God on Mount Sinai (where the Law is given). Yet something happens in the middle of their God-given mission, where they have been experiencing the glorious presence of God. Impatience sets in, and their arrogance takes over. It leads to idolatry, evidenced by a golden calf that they worship and party around.
The Lord interrupts His meeting with Moses and the giving of the Law. He reveals that idolatry is taking place, and in His wrath, judgment must follow. Moses shares in the experience of anger and despair. He smashes the two tablets of the Law and expresses his shock at the behaviour of Aaron and others. Judgment does take place. Moses asks, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” (Exodus 32:26, ESV). Three thousand who are not are soon executed.
The time comes to depart from Mount Sinai. The golden calf debacle leads to the Almighty suggesting that Moses and the people may be left to go it alone. Or, at most, He may send an angel ahead of them—but He will not go. Moses intercedes, asking for the Lord’s glory and purposes to be fulfilled and that the people of promise won’t be destroyed. He is passionately concerned about whether or not the Lord’s presence will accompany them on the wilderness journey. So, he appeals to the Lord to go with them and to show His glory to him personally. Moses will not go alone.
In times when the people of God face great spiritual challenges, the call to fulfil our mission for God remains. But the mission is not pre-eminent. Knowing God’s character and presence is. We cannot go it alone. To fulfil the mission we are called to, we must:
1. Be conscious of our need for the Lord’s glorious presence and power.
2. Be understanding of His character and goodness.
The revelation that Moses receives is not only one of presence and power but also a divine revelation of God’s character and the resulting actions He demonstrates:
So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the
morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him; and he took
in his hand the two tablets of stone.
Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed
the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord,
the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness
and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and
sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the
children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus
34: 4-7, NKJV).
In Rabbinic Judaism, “the Thirteen Attributes of God” from verses 6 and 7 are adopted into the liturgy of Jewish prayer in which YHWH’s glorious name is exalted along with His character and goodness.
From His name (1-3):
Flow His attributes and actions (4-13):
4. Merciful (compassionate)
6. Long-suffering (slow to anger)
7. Abundant in goodness
8. Abundant in truth
9. Keeping mercy to the thousandth generation
10. Forgiving iniquity (wickedness)
11. Forgiving transgression (rebellion)
12. Forgiving sin
13. Will by no means clear the guilty
To not receive from the Lord His mercy, truth, and forgiveness means guilt remains—it’s our choice!
Let us be reminded of some important principles as “The Called Ones.”
- In the face of the rebellion and idolatry of our age, the Lord still calls His servants to His mission and purpose (The Moses/Aaron/Joshua/Calebs of our generations).
- We cannot serve in our own power nor be motivated by anger and arrogance.
- We must have the Lord’s glorious presence and power with us as we proclaim His name and demonstrate His character and the goodness we have personally experienced.
In the end, the greatest missional outcome for all of us is to know God’s presence and to be conformed to our Lord’s image. Today, let our passionate prayer be,
“Show me Your glory, I pray.”
Portions of this article originally appeared in a devotional written by David Wells for ONE PRAYER, produced by the Church of God of Prophecy.
This article was inspired by “Show Me Your Glory” (Exodus 33:18): An Exegetical Analysis of Moses’s Request in the Context of Exodus 32-34, an Old Testament commentary written by PAOC credential holder and Tyndale University professor, Dr. Rebecca G. S. Idestrom. David Wells strongly endorses her book, Show Me Your Glory: The Glory of God in the Old Testament.
1. Rebecca G. S. Idestrom, “Show Me Your Glory” (Exodus 33:18): An Exegetical Analysis of Moses’s Request in the Context of Exodus 32-34 (Lanham: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2021), accessed December 4, 2023, https://digitalcollections.tyndale.ca/handle/20.500.12730/1629.