“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” ~Exodus 33:11
If I could choose in advance the epitaph that would describe me at the end of my life, it would be this: “The Lord would speak to Ray Noah face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
Is that really possible for a human being? It was for Moses! If anyone ever really knew God, if a human being ever experienced an extraordinarily intimate revelation of God, if a man ever truly had a close personal friendship with God, it was Moses.
But Moses didn’t always have this kind of relationship with God. If you were to review Moses’ life, you would be reminded that in his first forty years, Moses knew a lot about God. He was born to Hebrew parents, but raised in the lap of luxury in the Egyptian palace as one of Pharaoh’s sons—he was a prince of Egypt. Moses knew about God through his heritage, but there is no indication of a walk with God characterized by love and obedience. In fact, it appears Moses was somewhat indifferent to God.
But then Moses tried to play God and killed an Egyptian, and he had to flee the palace to the backside of the Sinai Desert, where he lived as a fugitive for the next forty years until he met God at the burning bush. And during these four decades, Moses unlearned everything he knew about God in the first forty years. It was a desert experience—literally and spiritually—where Moses knew nothing but the silence of God. God had enrolled Moses in the University of the Desert—the Graduate School of Sinai—where he trained Moses in the curricula of solitude, monotony and failure.
But then came the burning bush, which marked the beginning of the final forty years of Moses’ life. And in this period, he came to know and experience God the way we want to know and experience him: In his power and glory. Moses, unlike any other man, experienced first hand every attribute of God a human being could possibly experience: God’s omnipotence—that he is all-powerful; his omniscience—that he is all-wise and knowing; his omnipresence—that he is everywhere at all times; his Divine nature—that is, his justice, righteousness, holiness, and incomparable greatness.
What more could a human want? Yet that wasn’t enough. Moses didn’t just want to know about God, he wasn’t satisfied with seeing the evidence of God’s activity. He wanted more:
“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so that I may know you and continue to find favor with you…Now show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:13,18)
You’ve got to admire Moses’ boldness, audacity and greediness for God! Here is what he’s really asking: “God, I want to know you…your character…your nature…what makes you tick. I want to enter into the deepest dimension of intimacy with the Almighty that’s possible for one human being.”
Amazingly, God obliged this big, audacious request—he revealed himself fully to Moses. (Exodus 33:14-23) Now this doesn’t simply tell us something about Moses, it mostly reveals something vitally important about God:
God wants us to know how much he wants to be known.
He has made himself knowable. He is not some unapproachable deity way out there in a galaxy far, far away. He is the God who is there, the God who is near, the God who will reveal himself to those who long to know him.
“What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.” (Deuteronomy 4:7)
God want us to know that he is near and that he is knowable: “I will cause my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.” (Exodus 33:19) In other words, I’ll let you know me.
To ask to know him is a request that pleases the heart of God! You see, that’s what we were made for: To know God. That’s what he desires from us. God himself says in Hosea 6:6, “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.” And that should be our chief aim in life—to know God—because that is truly the sweetest nectar of life. Jeremiah 9:23-24 says,
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
Knowing God is the best thing in life. In fact, it is eternal life. Jesus said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life: That they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
God has offered to let you know him—really know him. It’s the best offer you’ll ever get! I would take him up on it if I were you.
“Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.” ~J.I. Packer
Reflect and Apply: Not only does God want to be known, God has made himself available. He doesn’t want you just to know about him, he wants you to intimately know his person. God is knowable and personable. Exodus 33:11 tells us that Moses knew God as a friend, and that he “would speak to Moses face-to-face.” Exodus 33:14 God tells Moses, “My presence will go with you…” Exodus 33:19 says that God “caused his goodness to pass in front of him and proclaimed his name in Moses’ presence.” God said he would let Moses see the after-effects of his glory in Exodus 33:22. What is God saying? “I want you to know me, and I will make myself available to you. And now you will not only know about me, you will see and experience my very nature and personhood.” That’s quite an invitation! Have you taken God up on his offer?