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Exodus 33:19

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But his request could not be granted in accordance with the conditions of human existence. The glory of the Almighty in its fulness is not to be revealed to the eye of man. Compare Judges 6:22; Isaiah 6:5. A further revelation of the divine goodness was however possible (see Exodus 33:6-7).

It was vouchsafed to Paul, as it had been to Moses, to have special “visions and revelations of the Lord” 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. But he had, also like Moses, to find the narrow reach of the intellect of man in the region of Godhead 1 Timothy 6:16. However intimate may be our communion with the Holy One, we are still, as long as we are in the flesh, “to see through a glass darkly,” waiting for the time when we shall see, with no figure of speech, “face to face” 1 Corinthians 13:12. Then we know “that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” 1 John 3:2.

Exodus 33:19

Will be gracious … - Yahweh declares His own will to be the ground of the grace which He is going to show the nation. Paul applies these words to the election of Jacob in order to overthrow the self-righteous boasting of the Jews Romans 9:15.

Exodus 33:20

Such passages as this, being clearly in accordance with what we know of the relation of spiritual existence to the human senses, show how we are to interpret the expressions “face to face” Exodus 33:11; Deuteronomy 34:10, “mouth to mouth” Numbers 12:8, and others of the like kind. See Exodus 24:10; Isaiah 6:1; and compare John 14:9.

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.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I will make all my goodness pass before thee - Thou shalt not have a sight of my justice, for thou couldst not bear the infinite splendor of my purity: but I shall show myself to thee as the fountain of inexhaustible compassion, the sovereign Dispenser of my own mercy in my own way, being gracious to whom I will be gracious, and showing mercy on whom I will show mercy.

I will proclaim the name of the Lord - See Clarke's note on Exodus 34:6.

Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 383

The third angel's message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and this truth must be brought before the world; but the great center of attraction, Jesus Christ, must not be left out of the third angel's message. By many who have been engaged in the work for this time, Christ has been made secondary, and theories and arguments have had first place. The glory of God that was revealed to Moses in regard to the divine character has not been made prominent. The Lord said to Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee” (Exodus 33:19). “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6, 7). 1SM 383.1

A veil has seemed to be before the eyes of many who have labored in the cause, so that when they presented the law, they have not had views of Jesus, and have not proclaimed the fact that, where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. It is at the cross of Calvary that mercy and truth meet together, where righteousness and peace kiss each other. The sinner must ever look toward Calvary; and with the simple faith of a little child, he must rest in the merits of Christ, accepting His righteousness and believing in His mercy. Laborers in the cause of truth should present the righteousness of Christ, not as new light but as precious light that has for a time been lost sight of by the people. We are to accept Christ as our personal Saviour, and He imputes unto us the righteousness of God in Christ. Let us repeat and make prominent the truth that John has portrayed: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). 1SM 383.2

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 61.3

He permitted all His goodness to pass before Moses; He proclaimed His character to him as a God full of mercy, long-suffering, and gracious—forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Moses was to represent this character to the people of Israel, and we are to do the same. FW 61.3

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 178

O what an assurance is this, that the love of God may abide in the hearts of all who believe in Him! O what salvation is provided; for He is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. In wonder we exclaim, How can these things be? But Jesus will be satisfied with nothing less than this. Those who are partakers of His sufferings here, of His humiliation, enduring for His name's sake, are to have the love of God bestowed upon them as it was upon the Son. One who knows, has said, “The Father himself loveth you.” One who has had an experimental knowledge of the length, and breadth, and height, and depth of that love, has declared unto us this amazing fact. This love is ours through faith in the Son of God, therefore a connection with Christ means everything to us. We are to be one with Him as He is one with the Father, and then we are beloved by the infinite God as members of the body of Christ, as branches of the living Vine. We are to be attached to the parent stock, and to receive nourishment from the Vine. Christ is our glorified Head, and the divine love flowing from the heart of God, rests in Christ, and is communicated to those who have been united to Him. This divine love entering the soul inspires it with gratitude, frees it from its spiritual feebleness, from pride, vanity, and selfishness, and from all that would deform the Christian character. FE 178.1

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 111.5

Look steadfastly to Jesus. Behold Him, full of grace and truth. He will make His goodness pass before you while He hides you in the cleft of the rock. You will be enabled to endure the seeing of Him who is invisible, and by beholding you will be transformed. HP 111.5

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