For the week of October 2, 2004 / 17 Tishri 5765
 Torah: Shemot / Exodus 33:12 - 34:26 &
Bemidbar / Numbers 29:23-31
Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:18 - 39:16
First published the week of October 6, 2001 / 19 Tishri 5762

How Well Do You Know God?

Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." (Shemot / Exodus 33:3)

When certain holidays occur over Shabbat (the Sabbath), the regular Torah readings are preempted. According to the set reading schedule, this week would have been the final portion of Devarim (Deuteronomy), but since it is the Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles or Booths), we have special readings from the books of Shemot (Exodus) and Bemidbar (Numbers). I think it is God's timing that the passage from Shemot is being read this year. There is a message here that we need to hear, especially considering the events of these turbulent days.

Moses had a most unique relationship with God. We read in this week's portion:

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Shemot / Exodus 33:11).

Moses really knew God. He talked to God face to face as one talks to a friend. Moses' understanding of God did not come from careful study of ancient texts, or by discerning the truths hidden in dreams and cryptic visions. God just talked to him.

And yet Moses wanted to know God better. Even though he already had such an intimate relationship with the Master of the Universe, he wanted to know him more. So he prayed, "Show me your glory" (Shemot / Exodus 33:18). God heard Moses' prayer and revealed himself to him in a most extraordinary way.

Moses' desire to know God in greater and greater ways is a further demonstration that he knew him in the first place. When I love someone, I want to get to know them. Once I get to know them, I want to know them even more. If we love God, then it makes sense to want to know him more and more. If we are satisfied with our knowledge and experience of him, then I wonder how deep our relationship with him is in the first place. There is so much to God - he is infinite after all. A thousand lifetimes would not be enough to get to know him. Why then are so many of us content with the little bit of God that we know?

Note what Moses asked for. He asked for God's glory. God's glory is the outward expression of God's nature and character. After receiving the Torah on the mountain, and after the people sinned by worshipping the golden calf, Moses wanted to see God's glory. He want to know him more.

Knowing God is not about our busy-ness with religious activities or good deeds, it is about an intimate relationship with him. And knowing God is also about knowing him better and better.

I wonder if Moses would have had this greater revelation of God had he not asked for it. I don't think so. I think that our knowledge and experience of God is dependant on ourselves more than we think.

I mentioned above that I thought it was God's timing that we read this passage this week. As the cycle of the Torah ends for another year, we hear Moses' cry: "Show me your glory!" I believe that God wants us to know him as never before. In the midst of the fear and confusion of these days, we too need to cry out for a fresh revelation of God - one like we have never known until now. And as we cry out to know God better, I believe he will be glad to reveal himself to us.

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