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Exodus 33:20

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

No man see me, and live - The splendor would be insufferable to man; he only, whose mortality is swallowed up of life, can see God as he is. See 1 John 3:2. From some disguised relation of the circumstances mentioned here, the fable of Jupiter and Semele was formed; she is reported to have entreated Jupiter to show her his glory, who was at first very reluctant, knowing that it would be fatal to her; but at last, yielding to her importunity, he discovered his divine majesty, and she was consumed by his presence. This story is told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, book iii., table iii., 5.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Moses is very earnest with God. Thus, by the intercession of Christ, we are not only saved from ruin, but become entitled to everlasting happiness. Observe here how he pleads. We find grace in God's sight, if we find grace in our hearts to guide and quicken us in the way of our duty. Moses speaks as one who dreaded the thought of going forward without the Lord's presence. God's gracious promises, and mercy towards us, should not only encourage our faith, but also excite our fervency in prayer. Observe how he speeds. See, in a type, Christ's intercession, which he ever lives to make for all that come to God by him; and that it is not by any thing in those for whom he intercedes. Moses then entreats a sight of God's glory, and is heard in that also. A full discovery of the glory of God, would overwhelm even Moses himself. Man is mean, and unworthy of it; weak, and could not bear it; guilty, and could not but dread it. The merciful display which is made in Christ Jesus, alone can be borne by us. The Lord granted that which would abundantly satisfy. God's goodness is his glory; and he will have us to know him by the glory of his mercy, more than by the glory of his majesty. Upon the rock there was a fit place for Moses to view the goodness and glory of God. The rock in Horeb was typical of Christ the Rock; the Rock of refuge, salvation, and strength. Happy are they who stand upon this Rock. The cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as smitten, crucified, wounded, and slain. What follows, denotes the imperfect knowledge of God in the present state, even as revealed in Christ; for this, when compared with the heavenly sight of him. is but like seeing a man that is gone by, whose back only is to be seen. God in Christ, as he is, even the fullest and brightest displays of his glory, grace, and goodness, are reserved to another state.
Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 60.3

John cannot find adequate words wherein to describe the amazing love of God to sinful man, but he calls upon all to behold the love of God revealed in the gift of His only begotten Son. Through the perfection of the sacrifice given for the guilty race, those who believe in Christ ... may be saved from eternal ruin. Christ was one with the Father, yet when sin entered our world through Adam's transgression, He was willing to step down from the exaltation of One who was equal with God, who dwelt in light unapproachable by humanity, so full of glory that no man could behold His face and live, and submit to insult, mockery, suffering, pain, and death, in order to answer the claims of the immutable law of God, and make a way of escape for the transgressor by His death and righteousness. This was the work which His Father gave Him to do, and those who accept Christ, relying wholly upon His merits, are made the adopted sons and daughters of God—are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.... TMK 60.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 328

The answer was, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” But Moses was not yet satisfied. There pressed upon his soul a sense of the terrible results should God leave Israel to hardness and impenitence. He could not endure that his interests should be separated from those of his brethren, and he prayed that the favor of God might be restored to His people, and that the token of His presence might continue to direct their journeyings: “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? is it not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” PP 328.1

And the Lord said, “I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.” Still the prophet did not cease pleading. Every prayer had been answered, but he thirsted for greater tokens of God's favor. He now made a request that no human being had ever made before: “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.” PP 328.2

God did not rebuke his request as presumptuous; but the gracious words were spoken, “I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” The unveiled glory of God, no man in this mortal state can look upon and live; but Moses was assured that he should behold as much of the divine glory as he could endure. Again he was summoned to the mountain summit; then the hand that made the world, that hand that “removeth the mountains, and they know not” (Job 9:5), took this creature of the dust, this mighty man of faith, and placed him in a cleft of the rock, while the glory of God and all His goodness passed before him. PP 328.3

This experience—above all else the promise that the divine Presence would attend him—was to Moses an assurance of success in the work before him; and he counted it of infinitely greater worth than all the learning of Egypt or all his attainments as a statesman or a military leader. No earthly power or skill or learning can supply the place of God's abiding presence. PP 328.4

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 67

Not only man but the earth had by sin come under the power of the wicked one, and was to be restored by the plan of redemption. At his creation Adam was placed in dominion over the earth. But by yielding to temptation, he was brought under the power of Satan. “Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” 2 Peter 2:19. When man became Satan's captive, the dominion which he held, passed to his conqueror. Thus Satan became “the god of this world.” 2 Corinthians 4:4. He had usurped that dominion over the earth which had been originally given to Adam. But Christ, by His sacrifice paying the penalty of sin, would not only redeem man, but recover the dominion which he had forfeited. All that was lost by the first Adam will be restored by the second. Says the prophet, “O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion.” Micah 4:8. And the apostle Paul points forward to the “redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:14. God created the earth to be the abode of holy, happy beings. The Lord “formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.” Isaiah 45:18. That purpose will be fulfilled, when, renewed by the power of God, and freed from sin and sorrow, it shall become the eternal abode of the redeemed. “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him.” Psalm 37:29; Revelation 22:3. PP 67.1

Adam, in his innocence, had enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but sin brought separation between God and man, and the atonement of Christ alone could span the abyss and make possible the communication of blessing or salvation from heaven to earth. Man was still cut off from direct approach to his Creator, but God would communicate with him through Christ and angels. PP 67.2

Thus were revealed to Adam important events in the history of mankind, from the time when the divine sentence was pronounced in Eden, to the Flood, and onward to the first advent of the Son of God. He was shown that while the sacrifice of Christ would be of sufficient value to save the whole world, many would choose a life of sin rather than of repentance and obedience. Crime would increase through successive generations, and the curse of sin would rest more and more heavily upon the human race, upon the beasts, and upon the earth. The days of man would be shortened by his own course of sin; he would deteriorate in physical stature and endurance and in moral and intellectual power, until the world would be filled with misery of every type. Through the indulgence of appetite and passion men would become incapable of appreciating the great truths of the plan of redemption. Yet Christ, true to the purpose for which He left heaven, would continue His interest in men, and still invite them to hide their weakness and deficiencies in Him. He would supply the needs of all who would come unto Him in faith. And there would ever be a few who would preserve the knowledge of God and would remain unsullied amid the prevailing iniquity. PP 67.3

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 54

Then the wicked saw what they had lost; and fire was breathed from God upon them and consumed them. This was the execution of the judgment. The wicked then received according as the saints, in unison with Jesus, had meted out to them during the one thousand years. The same fire from God that consumed the wicked purified the whole earth. The broken, ragged mountains melted with fervent heat, the atmosphere also, and all the stubble was consumed. Then our inheritance opened before us, glorious and beautiful, and we inherited the whole earth made new. We all shouted with a loud voice, “Glory; Alleluia!” EW 54.1

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 95.3

Now the question is, Are you gaining in the knowledge of the truth? Have you a living connection with Jesus Christ? You see Abraham had, and he talked with angels, and he could ask a favor of them. You see that Moses had a living connection with God, and his earnest petition was that he might see the glory of God. “Show me Thy glory,” was his petition. Well now, the Lord did not rebuke him for making that request; he was not presumptuous in trying to know more of God and His glory. But we see that that mighty man of faith was hid in a cleft of the rock, and the hand of God was placed over the rock, and then He revealed to him His glory. TDG 95.3

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