50 The Truth of Love (3)


One night I had a dream,

I dreamed that I was walking down a dark alley,

Listening to the groaning pain of the lost,

Providing a shoulder for a runaway teen to lean on,

Comforting an anxious widow,

Lending a helping hand to the drunkards,

Shining a ray of hope for the addicts,

Sympathizing the loneliness of an aged grandfather,

Supplying the needs for the inadequate,

Showing genuine concern for the abused,

Understanding the struggles of the imperfects,

Loving the unlovable,

Encouraging the losers,

Feeling the pulsation of the bleeding hearts,

Leaving heartprints of compassion, and

Touching fragile lives with God’s love!

People with a Heart for God Have a Heart for People

Have you left any heartprints in people’s lives? 

Have you been touched by others or touched others with God’s love? 

Do you agree that genuine love must be tough?

Exodus 33:12–23

12Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 

13If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 

14The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

15Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 

16How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 

17And 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.” 

18Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” 

19And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 

20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 

21Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 

22When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 

23Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:12–23 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Underline all of the requests that Moses made to God.

3 Circle all the attributes of God.

4 Circle all of the words that describe the physical body of God.

5 Underline verse 17 and box “mercy” and “compassion” (Exodus 33:19), and use an arrow sign to connect them.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

The Israelites continued to rebut and renounce God, but God was being merciful and compassionate to them, granting them many opportunities to repent. As Christians, do you have a heart of compassion?

1 Why did Moses speak to God alone? What had happened before that (Exodus 33:12-23)?

2 What did Moses ask God in this conversation (Exodus 33:12-23)?

3 Why did Moses ask God to lead His people (Exodus 33:15-17)?

4 Why did Moses want to see God’s glory with his own eyes (Exodus 33:18)?

5 What is meant by God’s back (Exodus 33:23)?  

Under the leadership of the Israelites, Aaron the elder brother of Moses made a golden calf for his people that they could worship it (Exodus 32:1-6). Moses was at Mount Sinai at the time, receiving the Ten Commandments from God. God told Moses about the evil acts of the Israelites, and the servant of God begged for mercy consequently (Exodus 32:7-14).

Owing to the above incident, God personally was not willing to lead the Israelites to Canaan, and let His angel to do this mission instead (Exodus 33:1-3). After hearing this bad news, His people became very sad (Exodus 33:4-6). Moses removed his tent out of the camp and sought the Lord there (Exodus 33:1-11). Moses earnestly begged God to change His mind (Exodus 33:12-23). In his communion with God, Moses attempted to ask God about three things: First, what are intentions of the Lord for His people. Second, Moses earnestly requested God to personally lead His people (Exodus 33:15-17). Third, Moses expected to see God’s glory (Exodus 33:18), as means to know Him deeper.

Exodus 33:12

Moses had a profound understanding of his responsibility, knowing that he was chosen by God as the leader to guide the people to the Promised Land. Furthermore, Moses understood that God knew him by name, that is, he has an intimate relationship with God; therefore, a certain translation renders it as, “You are my intimate friend.” As he rested on a blessed standing, Moses boldly asked God who was the person that he would team up with to take up the leadership of leading the people.

Exodus 33:13

Although Moses had experienced and known God before, he still desired to further experience Him. Furthermore, Moses stood on the position as an intercessor, reminding God not to forget the Israelites as His own people. The Israelites were God’s people set apart from other nations. If without God’s immediate presence, the continuation of the journey to the Promised Land would be meaningless.

Exodus 33:14

“My Presence will go with you,” the literal translation of presence is “face.” In simple terms, being before God’s face all the time is the proof of His presence. God not only promised to be with Moses, but He also granted His servant peace.

“I will give you rest” is translated as “Thus will I dispel your anxiety,” or “I … will lighten your burden,” that is to say, “let you have peace.”

Exodus 33:15-16

Personal gain was not the major premise of Moses, indicating that he was a selfless leader. Moses was not satisfied even though God promised to be with him. Moreover, Moses thought that there was no need for God to continue to lead His people if He was not present with them. As God was present with His people, the gentiles recognised that the Israelites were God’s chosen people. If without God’s presence, the identity of God’s people existed in name only. Moses dared to speak to God that boldly, meaning that he had an intimate relationship with the Lord.

Exodus 33:17

Owing to the intimate relationship that Moses had with God, the Lord consented to the request of His servant. God reaffirmed that He knew Moses by name for a second time, that is, the relationship between God and Moses was very unusual.

Exodus 33:18

The translation of Tanakh (New Jewish version) is “Oh, let me behold Your Presence!” No one knows for sure the reason behind Moses’ demand to see God’s glory. Most certainly, Moses desired to further know and experience God; therefore, expecting to see the real Him.

Exodus 33:19

“Goodness” (TEV) resembles the meaning of the original language. Among its five different meanings, both of them areabstract goodness and moral goodness. God promised to reveal all of His goodness to Moses; this was not only just sensual brilliancy but it was also His spiritual and ethical nature. God clearly stated that He was Yahweh the Creator and Ruler of everything, that is, He was the Lord. Owing to the fact that God is the sovereign Lord, He can extend His mercy and compassion to humankind according to His will.

“Mercy” speaks of God’s authority to show His favor to anyone that He wishes. Comparing with the former word, “compassion” suggests an even deeper emotion of compassion and love.

Exodus 33:20

Sinners cannot stand before God’s presence (Isaiah 6:5; 1 Timothy 6:16), that is the fact of all ages.

Exodus 33:21

Although the most holy God accepted the request of Moses, He wanted to hide him away. As the obstacle of sins, human beings cannot directly stare at God’s glory.

Exodus 33:22-23

The hand, back and face of God mentioned here was the literary skill of anthropomorphism (an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics). In regarding to the meaning of God’s back, the Bible scholars offer the following views: One, “his works—the consequences of his activity.” Two, God withheld His goodness. Three, the afterglow of the full splendor of God. Four, in the light of what God had done in the past, Moses understood His glory in retrospect. Comparatively, the first three interpretations fit the context of this passage better, but the fourth view is pretty farfetched.

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 God is the Lord of all things, thus only He has the authority to show mercy and compassion to anybody (Exodus 33:19).

2 Moses did not seek his own gain but tried his best to beg for God’s presence for his compatriots. Believers should learn from this selfless and compassionate attitude (Exodus 33:15-16).

3 Memorise Exodus 33:19. 

19And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Exodus 33:19)

4 I resolve to be like Moses that I would possess an intimate relationship with God (Exodus 33:12, 17).

5 I resolve to be like Moses that I would further know and experience God (Exodus 33:13, 18).

6 Do you have a compassionate heart to handle interpersonal relations and all sorts of matters in your daily life?

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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