Moses asks to see God’s glory, but God tells Moses this is impossible. If Moses were to see God’s face, the brilliance would destroy him. He is too great to behold straight on. This is a message in the book of Job as well. God is bigger and greater than we can fathom.
Moses doesn’t gain his request, but is by no means left empty handed. Not by a long shot. He is shown all of the Presence of God he is able to bear. It is for Moses’ own safety and well being that it was a limited reveal. A partial “yes”. But even this limited revelation caused Moses’ face to shine so brightly that the people feared him, causing Moses to cover his face with a veil.
If we, like Moses, seek to follow God as we exercise our gifts to serve in obedience, we have the opportunity to see God’s glory. It will be a limited facsimile. But everything that happens in life – the way we feel, events, our relationships – is an opportunity to see the glory of God.
We can choose to lament that our pride is not being fed or our compulsions are not being filled. Or we can appreciate the glimpses of God’s glory with which we are blessed. Within each circumstance of life, we can steward our participation and trust The One more brilliant than we can comprehend.
“But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.’”
– Exodus 33:20-23