El Hakkavod: God of Glory

| Ashley Allen

“God of Glory, give us eyes to see and help us to respond in repentance, praise, and worship to your glory all around us.”

“I pray You, show me Your glory!” – Exodus 33:18

Last summer, on a chilly June night underneath the Arizona sky, my parents and I looked up at the blanket of stars covering the Grand Canyon. The sight was unlike any other I have ever experienced and the words of the psalmist immediately came to mind, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, You have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!” (Psalm 8:1).

The Lord’s creation gives evidences of His glory, but the Lord Himself is glory!

In Exodus 33:18 Moses says to Yahweh, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” Moses asks this of God after a very difficult time.

In Exodus 31 we find Moses with the Lord at the top of Mount Sinai having received the “two tablets written by the finger of God” (vs. 18). Unfortunately, the Israelites were not simultaneously living in such a holy moment. Due to Moses’ delay in returning to the camp the Israelites turn to Aaron, and ask him to make for them a god who would go before them. Aaron crafts a golden calf and declares, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Ex. 32:4). Aaron builds an altar before the golden calf and the people feast and offer burnt offerings before it.

The Lord tells Moses what has happened, and an anguished and distraught Moses intercedes on behalf of the people when God threatens to destroy them (Ex. 32:7-14). God changes His mind (Ex. 32:14), and Moses returns to the camp with the two tablets only to see from a distance the revelry, rebellion, and idol worship. Anger burning, Moses throws down the tablets, burns the golden calf, and has the people drink the powdered remains.

Moses again intercedes for the Israelites and asks the Lord to either blot out the people’s sin or his name from the Lord’s book (Ex. 32:31-2). The Lord tells Moses He would blot out the name of the ones who sinned against Him and then tells Moses to take the people and depart to “a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way” (Ex. 33:3). Only after the people hear this word do they finally mourn.

It is against this dismal backdrop that Moses, with raw honesty, reminds the Lord that He has told Moses that He knows him by name and has found favor in His sight (Ex. 33:13). Moses also asks to know the Lord’s ways. He reminds God that the Israelites are His people, and His presence with them is their distinguishing mark from other nations (Ex. 33:16). The Lord agrees to go with them, and then Moses asks to see the Lord’s glory. The Lord consents to hide Moses in the cleft of the rock as His goodness passes by. Moses will see the Lord’s back but not His face. The God of Glory – El Hakkavod – reveals Himself to Moses this way.

Moses saw the glory of the Lord on that particular day and in John 1:14-8 we are told, “…the Word [Jesus] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Through Christ Jesus, we, too, have seen the glory of the Lord! The word for glory as used in the Greek in the passage from John and the Hebrew in the passage from Exodus can also be translated, “majesty.” We see the majesty of God through Christ Jesus! Our response to this should be worship and repentance. When Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne, he said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

While the glory of the Lord never diminishes, our thoughts of His glory often can. Much like the Israelites, we can rebel and go our own way—even while we see in Christ Jesus the glory of the Father.

Let us consider, when we encounter the God of glory in the Scriptures, what is our response? When we see His majesty in His world, what is our response? When we recognize the glory of His presence in our life, what is our response?

God of Glory, give us eyes to see and help us to respond in repentance, praise, and worship to your glory all around us.