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Exodus 33:15

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If thy presence go not - הלכים פניך אין אם im ein paneycha holechim, if thy faces do not go - if we have not manifestations of thy peculiar providence and grace, carry us not up hence. Without supernatural assistance, and a most particular providence, he knew that it would be impossible either to govern such a people, or support them in the desert; and therefore he wishes to be well assured on this head, that he may lead them up with confidence, and be able to give them the most explicit assurances of support and protection. But by what means should these manifestations take place? This question seems to be answered by the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 63:9; : In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence (פניו panaiv, of his faces) saved them. So we find that the goodness and mercy of God were to be manifested by the Angel of the Covenant, the Lord Jesus, the Messiah; and this is the interpretation which the Jews themselves give of this place. Can any person lead men to the typical Canaan, who is not himself influenced and directed by the Lord? And of what use are all the means of grace, if not crowned with the presence and blessing of the God of Israel? It is on this ground that Jesus Christ hath said, Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in the midst of them, Matthew 18:20; without which, what would preachings, prayers, and even Sacraments avail?

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
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 499

“The Lord has given us the promise, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.’ It is in the order of God that those who bear responsibilities should often meet together to counsel with one another, and to pray earnestly for that wisdom which He alone can impart. Unitedly make known your troubles to God. Talk less; much precious time is lost in talk that brings no light. Let brethren unite in fasting and prayer for the wisdom that God has promised to supply liberally. TM 499.1

“Go to God and tell Him as did Moses, ‘I cannot lead this people unless Thy presence shall go with me.’ And then ask still more; pray with Moses, ‘Show me Thy glory.’ What is this glory?—the character of God. That is what He proclaimed to Moses. Let the soul, in living faith, fasten upon God. Let the tongue speak His praise. When you associate together, let the mind be reverently turned to the contemplation of eternal realities. Thus you will be helping one another to be spiritually minded. When your will is in harmony with the divine will, you will be in harmony with one another; you will have Christ by your side as a counselor.”—Gospel Workers, old edition, 1:235-237. TM 499.2

The Lord has not qualified any one of us to bear the burden of the work alone. He has associated together men of different minds, that they may counsel with and assist one another. In this way the deficiency in the experience and abilities of one is supplied by the experience and abilities of another. We should all study carefully the instruction given in Corinthians and Ephesians regarding our relation to one another as members of the body of Christ. TM 499.3

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Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 417

Brethren, you will have to wrestle with difficulties, carry burdens, give advice, plan and execute, constantly looking to God for help. Pray and labor, labor and pray; as pupils in the school of Christ, learn of Jesus. GW 417.1

The Lord has given us the promise, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” [James 1:5.] It is in the order of God that those who bear responsibilities should often meet together to counsel with one another, and to pray earnestly for that wisdom which He alone can impart. Talk less; much precious time is lost in talk that brings no light. Let brethren unite in fasting and prayer for the wisdom that God has promised to supply liberally. Make known your troubles to God. Tell Him, as did Moses, “I cannot lead this people unless Thy presence shall go with me.” And then ask still more; pray with Moses, “Show me Thy glory.” [Exodus 33:18.] What is this glory?—The character of God. This is what He proclaimed to Moses. GW 417.2

Let the soul in living faith fasten upon God. Let the tongue speak His praise. When you associate together, let the mind be reverently turned to the contemplation of eternal realities. Thus you will be helping one another to be spiritually minded. When your will is in harmony with the divine will, you will be in harmony with one another; you will have Christ by your side as a counselor. GW 417.3

Enoch walked with God. So may every laborer for Christ. You may say with the psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”[Psalm 16:8.] While you feel that you have no sufficiency of yourself, your sufficiency will be in Jesus. If you expect all your counsel and wisdom to come from men, mortal and finite like yourselves, you will receive only human help. If you go to God for help and wisdom, He will never disappoint your faith. GW 417.4

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 287-9

The tabernacle here mentioned was a temporary tent arranged for the worship of God. The tabernacle, the pattern of which God gave to Moses, had not yet been built. 3SG 287.1

All who sincerely repented of their sins made supplication unto God in the tabernacle, confessing their sins with great humility, and then returned again to their tents. Then Moses went into the tabernacle. The people watched with the deepest interest to see if God would accept his intercessions in their behalf, and if he condescended to meet with Moses, then they might hope that they should not be utterly consumed. When the cloudy pillar descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, then all the people wept for joy, and rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door. They bowed themselves upon their faces to the earth in humility. As the pillar of cloud, a token of God's presence, continued to rest at the door of the tabernacle, they knew that Moses was pleading in their behalf before God. “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” 3SG 287.2

“And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people; and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight, and consider that this nation is thy people.” Moses was very urgent that the Lord should show him just the course which he would have him pursue toward Israel. He wished to have God mark out his course, that his instructions to Israel might be with such wisdom that the people would receive his teachings, and their course be approved of God, and that he would again consider them as his people. 3SG 287.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 532-3

Moses has a deep sense of his unworthiness and his unfitness for the great work to which God has called him. He pleads with intense earnestness that the Lord will go with him. The answer comes: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” But Moses does not feel that he can stop here. He has gained much, but he longs to come still nearer to God, to obtain a stronger assurance of His abiding presence. He has carried the burden of Israel; he has borne an overwhelming weight of responsibility; when the people sinned, he suffered keen remorse, as though he himself were guilty; and now there presses upon his soul a sense of the terrible results should God leave Israel to hardness and impenitence of heart. They would not hesitate to kill Moses, and through their own rashness and perversity they would soon fall a prey to their enemies and thus dishonor the name of God before the heathen. Moses presses his petition with such earnestness and fervency that the answer comes: “I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.” 4T 532.1

Now, indeed, we would expect the prophet to cease pleading; but no, emboldened by his success, he ventures to come still nearer to God, with a holy familiarity which is almost beyond our comprehension. He now makes a request which no human being ever made before: “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.” What a petition to come from finite, mortal man! But is he repulsed? does God reprove him for presumption? No, we hear the gracious words: “I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” 4T 532.2

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 327-8

In deep sadness the people had buried their dead. Three thousand had fallen by the sword; a plague had soon after broken out in the encampment; and now the message came to them that the divine Presence would no longer accompany them in their journeyings. Jehovah had declared, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.” And the command was given, “Put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.” Now there was mourning throughout the encampment. In penitence and humiliation “the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.” PP 327.1

By the divine direction the tent that had served as a temporary place of worship was removed “afar off from the camp.” This was still further evidence that God had withdrawn His presence from them. He would reveal Himself to Moses, but not to such a people. The rebuke was keenly felt, and to the conscience-smitten multitudes it seemed a foreboding of greater calamity. Had not the Lord separated Moses from the camp that He might utterly destroy them? But they were not left without hope. The tent was pitched without the encampment, but Moses called it “the tabernacle of the congregation.” All who were truly penitent, and desired to return to the Lord, were directed to repair thither to confess their sins and seek His mercy. When they returned to their tents Moses entered the tabernacle. With agonizing interest the people watched for some token that his intercessions in their behalf were accepted. If God should condescend to meet with him, they might hope that they were not to be utterly consumed. When the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the entrance of the tabernacle, the people wept for joy, and they “rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door.” PP 327.2

Moses knew well the perversity and blindness of those who were placed under his care; he knew the difficulties with which he must contend. But he had learned that in order to prevail with the people, he must have help from God. He pleaded for a clearer revelation of God's will and for an assurance of His presence: “See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people.” PP 327.3

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