Exodus Message #39 – Ed Miller September 15, 2021 The Cleft Rock/Abiding

Listen to audio while reading the full transcript below (also available to read and/or download at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)

As we prepare to look in the Word, I remind you that there is only one indispensable principle of Bible study, and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  We’ve got to trust the author of the Book, and only He, God can reveal God.  I thank the Lord for the privilege I have to be an instrument, and I know He is protecting you if I would say something that is not from the Lord, but the Lord is the teacher.  Before we go to prayer, I want to share this Bible verse, two verses, Numbers 20:8, “Speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water.”  1 Corinthians 10:4 reminds us that rock was Christ.  “Speak to the rock.”  That means it’s a living rock. “Speak to the rock that it might yield its water.”  So, I invite you to bow with me as I speak to the rock.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that we can gather in this place.  Thank You for this provision.  Thank You for the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts, whose pleasure, whose passion it is to turn our eyes to the Lord Jesus.  We commit our time to You, and we ask, Lord Jesus, that You would unveil Yourself.  We thank You in advance that You are going to do it because You deserve it, and we claim it in Your name.  Amen

We welcome you all to our Bible study.  Once again, we are here to see the Lord Jesus in the book of Exodus.  I’ll repeat it over and over again without feeling tired of repeating it or thinking I should apologize.  We’re studying Exodus, not to know Exodus.  I hope we know a lot about Exodus when we’re done, but we’re studying Exodus to know the Lord.  That’s why He revealed it.  I need to see Jesus and you need to see Jesus, and we corporately need to see the Lord Jesus.  Asap prayed in Psalm 73:25&26, “Whom have I in heaven but You.  Beside You I desire nothing on the earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  I hope we’re there with Asap.  There’s nothing on earth I want more and there’s nothing in heaven that I’ll receive more, and nothing remains except what faith can hold in Christ Jesus.  We need to sit very loose to this fleeting world.

In our study we’ve come to Exodus 33:18 – 34:9. I’m not going to read that now but here is the heart of it, verse 21, “And the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me.  You shall stand there on a rock, and it will come about that when My glory is passing by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock, and I’ll cover you with My hand until I’ve passed by.  Then I’ll take My hand away and you shall see my back, but My face shall not be seen.”  This is not the first rock story in the book of Exodus.  We’ve already looked at Exodus 17, and we call that, “The story of the smitten rock.”  Remember that’s when Moses took the rod, and he smote the rock.  God said, “I’ll stand on a rock.  You deserve to be smitten, but I love you, so in place of you, smite Me.”  And God took our place.  That’s pictured so wonderfully in Exodus 17:6, “I’ll stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock and water will come out of it.”  You remember that rock was just a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When they struck the rock, water came out and flowed for thirty-eight years.  It wasn’t just a minute to satisfy their thirst.  That thing flowed for thirty-eight years.  And then at the end of that, of course, He shut the spicket off so that He could teach the second generation the same principle.  So, we have another rock story.

Anyway, that rock was Christ.  The reason I bring that up, that’s the first rock story, and this morning we’re going to look at, not the smitten rock, but the cleft rock.  All I want you to know for now is that the smitten rock comes first, and then the cleft rock.  That’s true in the Bible, and that’s true in my life and your life, as well.  It comes first.  When we look at the cleft rock, nothing has changed.  What I mean by that is 1 Corinthians 10:4, “That rock was Christ.”  That’s still Christ.  So, the story of the smitten rock is that Christ died for me, and we’re going to look at the story of the cleft rock, and that’s still our Lord Jesus, but with a slightly different message, and I think a little advanced on the first message.

I want to pick up the story where we left off last time.  For those of you who were here otherwise you can get the tape.  We were discussing Moses as God’s illustration of a mediator, and the heart of a mediator, one who had a heart to pray for his people.  We didn’t quite finish that.  You might have thought it was finished, but we didn’t look at the end of that.  I want to back off and remind you first of Moses’ heart generally as a servant of the Lord.  He belonged to the Lord, and as a servant of the Lord, and that includes intercession, but it’s bigger than that.  His heart as a Christian, as a servant of the Lord, Moses was a man who had an insatiable passion to know God, to know Him intimately, to know Him personally, to know Him in a very familiar way. 

A couple of illustrations stand out to illustrate that, so let me just illustrate Moses, “I’ve got to get close to God, I’ve got to get closer to God, I need to even get closer.”  That was his heart.  After I show you that, as God gives aid, I’ll tie it into the cleft rock story.  You remember that Moses alone was permitted to enter into what we call the Shekinah glory cloud.  That’s pretty intimate.  That’s where God is.  The masses, the group, most of the people, most of Israel didn’t have that privilege.  Look at Exodus 19:12, “You shall set bounds for the people all around saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up the mountain or the touch the border of it.  Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.”  God is a holy God.  He’s on top of the mountain, and on the bottom, He drew a circle, and He said, “You tell the people, ‘Don’t cross that circle.  They can’t come closed to me.  If they try, they’re dead.”  What about the elders, the leadership?  Could they get close?  They could get a little closer.  Exodus 24:1, “He said to Moses, ‘Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders, and you shall worship at a distance.”  Even they couldn’t get that close: at a distance.  Verse 9, “Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel.  Under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself, yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel.  They saw God, they ate, and they drank.”

Moses wanted to get closer, and so God says in Exodus 24:13, “Moses arose with Joshua, his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.”  At the bottom you had a bunch of people that can’t cross the line, and a little further up the mountain you’ve got the seventy elders, and they worshipped at a distance, and had a wonderful vision of God.  Then Moses and Joshua go all the way up to the glory cloud, and when they get there, Exodus 24:18, “Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” So, you get the picture that most of the people are at the bottom, and some of the elders a little way up worshipping God, Joshua right under the cloud, but he couldn’t go in, and then Moses went into the cloud and into the presence of the Lord, and there he stayed forty days and forty nights.  You can imagine the fellowship that took place as Moses was in God’s presence.

There’s another illustration; set that aside.  That was after they sinned the sin against the golden calf, Moses set up a little tent.  Now, it’s got the same name as the tabernacle, but their tabernacle hadn’t been built yet.  This is sort of a pre-tabernacle.  Exodus 33:7, “Moses used to take a tent, pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp.  He called it the tent of meeting.”  Verse 9, “Whenever Moses entered the tent the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent and Moses, and the Lord would speak with Moses.”  Here’s how God describes that special time, verse 11, “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to a friend.”  So, you get this idea Moses is close to God; he went into the glory cloud when no one else was allowed.  He had a tent outside the camp, and God’s glory cloud would come to there, and they would speak together face to face, like a man talks to a friend.  That’s the truth we ended with in our last lesson.

 I gave you the idea that if God is your friend, it’s easy to trust Him.  If you don’t know Him well, He’s a stranger, and you can’t trust a stranger.  Nobody can trust a stranger.  Some people think, “Oh, I’ve got all this problem with faith.  If only my faith were stronger, and were bigger, and were larger, if I only had faith like you…” you hear it all the time.  You don’t need a stronger faith.  You need to cultivate a union, a relationship with Jesus.  When you have a relationship with the Lord it’s as easy as pie to trust Him.

Let me give one more illustration of Moses’ nearness.  I’m just showing you his heart first.  This is important if we’re going to understand the cleft rock.  Exodus 33:13, “Now, therefore, I pray you,” says Moses, “if I found favor in your sight, let me know Your ways, that I might know You.”  Moses did not say, “Show me Your ways, so I can learn the ways of God.”  That wasn’t his goal.  He didn’t want to know the ways of God.  It’s a great thing to know the ways of God, but Moses said, “Show me Your ways, that I might know You.”  Now, the Psalmist picked that up in Psalm 103:7 and made reference back to it, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.”  What a wonderful verse that is!  In other words, Israel saw the glory cloud.  They saw His acts, but Moses looked at the cloud and said, “Wow, I see a God who guides.”  He saw the ways of God.  Israel saw the manna and the quail, and they fed and they were satisfied.  They saw the acts of God.  Moses said, “Oh, I see; God is a provider, a faithful provider.”  They were seeing His acts; He was seeing the Lord.  Israel saw the Red Sea part.  Moses said, “Oh, God is a deliverer.”  He saw God.  Israel saw Amalek defeated.  They saw the acts of God.  Moses saw God as a Victor, as a warrior.  Moses saw His acts, but through the acts He saw God.  Moses was always trying to know the Lord.

When you come to the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, thirty years He knew Christ when he wrote this verse, Philippians 3:10, “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformable to His death.”  After thirty years you say, “Paul, what’s your great prayer?”  He said, “I want to know the Lord.  I just want to know the Lord.”  In our last session we were seeing the heart of Moses, not only as one that wants to know the Lord, but in terms of an intercessor.  We looked at that; a praying priest, someone who loved the people and prayed for them.

I’m just going to mention those four principles we saw last time.  If I have a heart like Moses to pray for the people, I will know that the people belong to the Lord.  They are not my people.  I don’t have a flock; I don’t have a congregation.  I will also know that I don’t have an agenda, and I don’t want anything named after me.  I don’t want God to replace a ministry and build me up.  I also know that I’m one with the people.  I’m not up here and they’re down here; there’s no clergy, and then there is the regular people.  Every Christian is on level ground, and that’s what Moses knew.  And then Moses said, “I appreciate Your offer to send an angel, and I appreciate the offer to give me victory, I appreciate the offer to bring me in the land and give me blessing, but an angel is not Christ, and victory is not Christ, and blessing is not Christ.  I won’t go forward without Your presence; You must go with me.”  With a heart like that, that’s why he prayed for God’s people.

The secret of Moses’ intercession, his mediator heart, was his intimacy with the Lord.  God and Moses were best friends.  Having said that, I want to now turn to the second rock story.  I’m going to take it in two parts.  First, I want you to see the relationship between the first rock story and the second rock story, and then I’ll take you to what I think, if we can get past the shell, we can reach the kernel, the heart of this whole thing.

The point I want to make about relating it to the smitten rock is simply this; Christ is the rock.  We know that: the smitten rock or the cleft rock.  It’s not an accident that the smitten rock story comes first.  It has to come first because it’s foundational.  The fact that Christ died is the foundation of everything.  When He was on the cross, John 19:30, “He cried out, ‘It is finished.’”  It’s over.  So, the smitten rock is the finished work; it’s all done, over, complete, through, sufficient.  The second rock story is going to take us a little deeper as we’ll see, but it’s based on the first rock story.  There could be no cleft rock without the smitten rock.  That has to come first. That’s why in the New Testament we read in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “I determine to know nothing among you except Christ, and Him crucified.”  When the Apostle Paul wanted to describe the gospel, he did it in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “I deliver to you as of first importance what also I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”  That’s of first importance.  So, before we look at the principles of the cleft rock, whatever you and I will learn of the Lord as we go on, from now until the moment we safely arrive in heaven in His presence, I’ll tell you without clearing my throat, it’s all because of the blood of our Lord Jesus.  It’s all because of the cross.  It’s because of the finished work.  Every good thing God has ever done in your life is because Jesus died for you.  Every good thing God has ever done in my life is because Jesus died for me.  Now, by the life of the indwelling Lord, I want to attempt to show you what I think is the spiritual significance of this marvelous story of the cleft rock.

Alright, I’m going to show you this passage… As I said, we spent our last week to see what a mediator’s heart looked like.  I gave you those four principles.  Let me suggest this; if you took that to heart, those four principles, and you say, “Lord, I want to be a prayer warrior, and I really want to pray for Christians and I want to pray for my brothers and my sisters, and by Your miracle I will not Lord it over others, and by Your miracle I will have no agenda, and I’m not going to seek a following, and by Your miracle I will identify with them on the same level, and by Your miracle will go forward in Your presence.”  If you prayed that, would you have a mediator’s heart?  The answer is, “No, not yet.”  Even with those wonderful truths, not yet.  They’re wonderful virtues, but there is a final step.  There is a climax, and that whole prayer comes to a climax in the story of the cleft rock.  This above everything else is important.  It’s more basic than any of those principles we touched on in our last gathering.

The story is in Exodus 33:18-23.  I’m going to introduce that by a prayer that Moses gave.  Exodus 33:13, “Now, therefore, I pray, if I found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways, that I might know You, that I might find favor in Your sight.”  So, we talked about the ways different than the Lord Himself.  The last thing on Moses’ heart was, “I want to be a prayer warrior.”  The last thing he was thinking is, “Boy, I wish I could be a good mediator.  I wonder what it’s like to be an intercessor.  I really want the Lord to teach me how to pray for others.”  He wasn’t thinking that!  He said, “I want to know Jesus.  I want to know the Lord.”  That was His goal.  He had already settled the theological issues; they’re Your people, You can’t break covenant with Abraham, we are the same, You identify with us, no substitute for Your presence.  Now he prays what I consider the most daring prayer, probably in the Old Testament, and at least in the life of Moses.

Exodus 33:18, “And Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory.’”  Let me tell you what Moses was asking, and then let me tell you how God answered what Moses was asking.  When Moses prayed, “Show me Your glory,” what exactly, if God answered that, is that prayer?  Don’t forget, he had been in the presence of the Lord.  He’d been in the glory cloud; for eighty days he was in the glory cloud.  God talked to him face to face, like a man talks to a friend.  He had seen through the acts of the Lord, he had seen God in many ways.  The question is, hadn’t he already seen his glory?  Great day, if you had all that experience, wouldn’t you say, “I’ve already seen the glory of the Lord?”  He was where he was because of the Shekinah glory cloud led him there.  After all that intimacy and all that sweet fellowship that he had, and all that holy conversation and communication, he says, “Lord, show me Your glory.”  I’m thinking, “Didn’t you already see Him?”  That’s why I say it’s one of the most daring prayers.

I’m not going to take time to go through these verses.  I took time for my heart to go through the verses and I’ll tell you, I had a feast.  I’ll just give you the essence.  I just looked up things that are called glories.  We read of His glorious power, His glorious holiness, His glorious name, His glorious kingdom, His glorious works, His glorious arm, His glorious throne, His glorious voice, the place of His feet will be glorious where He dwells, the New Covenant is called glorious, it’s a glorious gospel, we’re being conformed to His glory, we’re looking forward to a glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when we sin we fall short of His glory.  That’s an amazing thing.  What Moses had in mind when he said, “Show me Thy glory.”  I have quite a library.  It’s wonderful, that the Lord gave me.  In that library I have many theology books, and they have a section called The Attributes of God, and they outline these attributes of God.  I suppose I would have twenty theology books.  So, they are all attributes of God.  They break them up into the communicable attributes and the non-communicable attributes and the omni-attributes, He is omniscient and He’s omnipresent, and all of that.  Then the list goes on.  God is faithful, God is love, God is immutable, God is patient, God is merciful, God is holy.  He’s good, He’s sovereign, He’s just, and on and on it goes. 

Not one of my theology books lists glory as an attribute.  There’s not one theology book that says, “Let’s do the attributes of God.  Let’s study His glory.”  Why is that?  The answer is because glory is the sum total of all His attributes.  If you say that God is love, I’ll say, “Yeah, and He’s glorious in His love.”  If you say that God is wise, I’ll say, “Yeah, and He’s glorious in His wisdom.”  “He’s good.”  “Yeah, and He’s glorious in His goodness, glorious in His justice, glorious in His providence, and He’s glorious in everything.” 

When Moses said, “Show me I pray Thee Thy glory,” it’s why I call the prayer daring, he was saying, “Show me all there is to see.  I don’t want to see you in part.  I want to see all of you.  Show me everything there is to know about God.”  Can you imagine a prayer like that, asking God to unveil Himself in God’s fullness?  He didn’t say, “Show me Your love.”  He had seen the love.  He didn’t say, “She me Your mercy.”  He said, “Show me Yourself.  I need more.  I know I’ve seen God. I’ve been in His presence, I’ve been His friend, and we’ve talked, and He’s shown me everything.  I saw a hundred million angels.”  A hundred million angels were in the glory cloud when Moses was there.  The Bible gives us the number.  He said, “I haven’t seen it all.  There’s more, and I will not be satisfied until I see You.”  Moses’ heart was so huge; it was bigger than a man’s heart.  It was bigger than a heart for the nation.  His heart was a continent.  His heart was a world because he had massive desire to see the Lord.  He wanted to see the Lord.

I don’t think I could pray a prayer to the Lord that I don’t just want a little bit of You, but I want to see all of You.  I don’t think I could go there, but it shows the humanity of him, and God was very tender.  God said in verse 20, “You cannot see My face; no man can see Me and live.”  Even the highest angels in the sky use some of their wings to hide their face.  They can’t look at the Lord.  If God ever revealed Himself in fullness as He is, we’d be burned to a cinder.  You have a better chance to survive on the sun.  Our sun is one of the smallest, I hear, in God’s universe.  There’s one, I looked it up, that’s called Musefi, and a million earths could fit on our sun, and Musefi is fifteen hundred times the size of our sun.  To survive on Musefi would be a lot easier than seeing God in all His glory. 

There’s a truth some Christians haven’t entered into it yet, and so they’re always struggling, “Oh, I’ve got to die to self.  I wish I could die to self.  How in the world can I be crucified?  There’s too much of me,” and all of that, because they haven’t yet had their eyes opened to the fact that they died when Christ died, and they struggle with that.  But I have a good answer now.  If someone says, “How do I die to self?”  I just give them this verse, “No man can see God and live.”  See God and that will take care of the flesh.  That’ll take care of the self-life.  Of course, the full answer is to see God and His provision in Christ Jesus, and then He’ll give you the grace and faith to reckon yourself dead.  That’s the full answer. Anyway, Moses prayer; Moses heart, “I want to know You; nothing else matters, and I don’t want a partial view.  I want a full view. I’m not praying, “Give me a mediator’s heart.  If I see You, I will have a mediator’s heart.  He wasn’t seeking to be a mediator.  He was seeking to see the mediator, who is Christ Jesus Himself.

How did God answer that prayer?  The answer is in the story of the cleft rock.  May God help me now and all of us as we look at this.  I’m going to show you what it’s going to look like in your life and mine, what it looked like in his life.  Remember that the smitten rock is Jesus.  So, the cleft rock is Jesus.  When you get to the book of Numbers there’s another rock, and it will be the living rock, and that’s why we opened with that verse.  Are you familiar with the hymn “Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee”?  That’s based on this wonderful story.  The answer of Moses’ prayer and any heart that says, “I want to know the Lord,” is this; “Do you really want to see Me and know Me, you’ve got to abide in the cleft of the rock.  In New Testament language it’s to abide in Jesus.  That’s New Testament language.

Before I show you what that looks like, let me relate it to this whole idea of being a mediator.  If I’m praying that God would make me a prayer warrior, then I’m going to get stuck on all those principles.  If I’m praying to know the Lord, it’s going to be on my heart to pray for you.  If you are praying to just know the Lord, and you are abiding in Christ, then you are going to want to pray.  Here’s the other part.  If you ask me to pray for you, and I’m not abiding in Christ, I do you a disservice.  The effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much, and if I’m abiding in Christ, then I can pray for you.  But if I have all those other principles and I’m not abiding in Christ, my prayer will go as high as the ceiling.  That’s not bad because He’s in the room, so even if it only goes that high, He hears that.  The whole point is that everything has to do with abiding in Christ as the branch abides in the vine.  I need His life, and if I have His life, I’ll be happy to pray for you.  If you have His life, I would never say this to any Christian, I’ll say it, “Please pray for me.”  I should say, “Are you abiding in Jesus?  Okay, then pray for me.”  Prayer can be hindered, you know.  It’s illustrated in 1 Peter 3.  If I’m not right with my Lillian, the Bible says that my prayers will be hindered.  So, we don’t want our prayers hindered.  We need to abide in Christ.

Let’s look at the story.  For those who like logical connection I’m going to share four simple principles.  I like to teach in principles.  If you just read the text and apply it, you have one or two applications.  If you read the text and find the principle and apply it, there’s unlimited application.  That’s why I like the principle.  Let’s look at the principles.  Exodus 33:21, “And the Lord said, ‘Behold, there’s a place by Me.  You shall stand there on the rock.  It will come about while My glory is passing by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock, and cover you with My hand until I pass by.”  The first principle can be stated in these words; abiding in Jesus is a matter of pure grace.  The words that illustrate that is the words, “I will put,” “I will put you in the cleft of the rock.”  He doesn’t say to Moses, “There’s a cleft, there’s a cave in that rock and I want you to go in.”  He didn’t say that.  He didn’t say, “Crawl in, or jump in, or walk in, or back in.”  He said, “I will put you in.”

Exodus 33:21, “There’s a rock, a place by Me, and you’ll stand on a rock.”  To be honest with you, with my mind I don’t know how to picture this.  I can picture a rock, and I can picture Moses standing on it, but the next part, “I will put you in.”  I don’t know how it happened where God takes Moses and puts him into the cleft of the rock, but it’s exactly what we read in the New Testament.  1 Corinthians 1:30, “By His doing are you in Christ Jesus.”  In the story of the smitten rock God is on the rock.  In the story of the cleft rock Moses is on the rock.  We are, if we have drunk from the smitten rock, we’re standing on the rock.  We’re built on the rock.  But there’s an experience when those who are on the rock by the power and miracle of God are put into the rock.  What a glorious day that is!

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not suggesting, “Some Christians are on the rock, and spiritual hotshots are in the rock.”  No. No.  All Christians are on the rock, and all Christians are in the rock, but Moses’ prayer, “Show me,” not everybody sees it, and they need revelation to see that they are in the rock.  So, we’re going to look at what happens when God shows you.  It’s interesting that the first time the expression, “I will put,” is in the Bible is in the first gospel, Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and His seed.”  I’ll tell you what, when Adam sinned, he joined leagues with Satan.  They were confederate.  They were friends.  They were not enemies, when God said, “I will put enmity.”  I’m not talking about you because I can’t judge you.  I know I love sin.  I do.  I love sin.  If God didn’t put the enmity in there I would continually sin, but God puts that grace in there to make me hate sin, and to make me choose right, and to make me choose the Lord.  It’s not in me naturally, and it’s not in you naturally.  I love that expression, “I will put.”  Thank You, Lord, “I will put enmity.  I’ll put you in the rock.”  Thank You, Lord.  I want You to do that because for years I didn’t understand that.  I thought prayer put me in the rock.  I thought fasting put me in the rock.  I thought that faith put me in the rock.  I thought that surrender put me in the rock.  I thought that some theological degree would put me in the rock, or some kind of knowledge I have or some spiritual gift or following some spiritual rules.  God puts me in the rock.  It’s all by grace.  It’s all by grace.

Hold that.  Abiding in Christ is a matter of pure grace. The second principle, and you’ll see this clearly, abiding in Christ is radical, and because it’s radical, it’s mysterious.  Remember his prayer, verse 18, “Show me Your glory.”  I don’t know what you think of when you think of the word glory, but I think of something bright.  I think of glory, and I think of light and I think of splendor and I think of radiance, something brilliant, and God says, “Oh, your prayer, you want to see light?  Okay, get into that cave.”  That doesn’t sound like light.  Then God says, “To make sure that it’s dark enough in there, I’m going to put My hand in front of the door.”  Don’t forget that’s the answer to the prayer for light.  “Lord, show me Your glory.”  “Alright, get in the cave. “Show me You glory.”  What’s He doing?  I’ve got to block out all-natural light, if you are abiding in Christ.  There’s no natural life.  Stop trying to figure things out and stop trying to understand what God is doing.  It’s radical and it’s dark in there, and when we’re abiding in Christ things get mysterious.  There’s no natural light.  Divine logic… 

People get this idea that I’m going to know God logically.  No, you’re not going to know God logically.  John 7:17, it’s not on your sheet, but it says, “If any man is willing, he will know.”  Knowing is not a matter of the brain.  It’s a matter of the will.  “If any man is willing, he’ll know the teaching.”  The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Any wisdom that does not begin with the fear of the Lord gets further away from God the more logical it becomes.  That’s why these scientists are denying the Lord.  They’re following logic and it’s human logic, so God puts you in a place in the darkness, that no human, natural light can get in there.  That is abiding in Jesus.  I’m left in the dark and He surprises me.  It’s a radical experience.

 It’s like that old spiritual they used to sing, “The only way up is down, the only way up is down.  You can climb up high and try and try, but the only way up is down.”  When you are in Christ and He’s answering the prayer, “Show me Your glory,” you’re in a dark place.  When you’re in that dark place, may I just encourage you, don’t say, “What’s He trying to teach me?  What lessons can I learn from this?”  God is not about teaching you lessons.  He’s not about teaching you, “What am I supposed to learn out of this?”  It’s not to learn lessons; it’s to know God.  That’s the difference.  He’s not out to teach you lessons.  He puts you in a dark place that you might know Him and answer the prayer of your heart, “Show me Your glory.” 

That principle is radical.  So, you see it all through the Bible, the way to live is to die, and the way to be great is to be a child, and to be free you’ve got to be a bondslave, and when you are weak then you’re strong, and the treasure is in the earthen vessel.  The carnal mind will never understand these things.  They just can’t get it.  So, when you’re in a dark place and there’s a mystery of trial and a sudden temptation comes upon you, and some accident happens or some bereavement takes place, it’s all part of God’s radical design for those who really want to know Him, you’ve got to abide in Christ, and that’s radical, I promise you.

The third principle.  Not only is it by pure grace, not only is it radical, and only recently has the Lord made this more clear to me, abiding in Christ is redemptive.  Exodus 33:18, “Moses said, ‘I pray You show me Your glory.’ And He said,’ I myself will make all my goodness pass before you, and you will proclaim the name of the Lord.’” Verse 22, “…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.”  Moses is in a dark place, and he’s sort of passive.  He can’t do anything.  He’s just sitting in the cave.  God said, “While you are there My goodness will pass by, and My glory will pass by as I pass by.”  So, I’m in there, what’s God doing?  I don’t know, but it’s good.  His goodness is passing by.  I’m in there in the dark.  What’s going on?  I don’t know, but it’s for His glory.  His glory is passing by.  I can see that.  I don’t know, but God is passing by.  He’s doing something while I’m just… just abiding in Jesus, abiding in the Lord.  There’s no way with these eyes, and there’s no way with the natural mind that we can begin to understand what God is doing in our life, but we can always know it’s redemptive and it’s good and it’s glorious.  Though we’re in the dark, we can know that it’s good, and we can know it’s glorious, and I don’t have to understand it.  I just know it’s redemptive because He’s passing by.  Only when I’m abiding in Christ can I begin to say, “I don’t know about this sickness, but I know it’s good.  I don’t know about this reversal of my fortunes, but I know it’s good.  I don’t know about this delay, but I know it’s good and I know it’s for His glory.  I don’t know why He allowed that emergency, but it’s got to be good, because He said so.  I don’t know why He piled on me all this extra responsibility and I’ve got to take care of so and so and so and so, but it’s good.  Why this affliction?  Why this misunderstanding?  Why am I misrepresented?  Why this persecution?  I don’t know, but He does.  It’s good, and it’s glorious.

I want to make one final observation.  When God is answering my prayer to know Him and see His glory, I’m not only placed in Christ by grace, I am not only placed in a place where I don’t understand and it’s a radical experience, I’m not only placed in a place that I know everything is redemptive, but I’m going to give you one sentence, but three parts.  When I am placed in Christ, I’m prepared to begin to see Him in His time.  I planned that sentence with those three parts; prepared, begin, in His time.  Let me say about each of those.

I’m prepared, Exodus 33:22, “It will come about while My glory is passing by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and it will come about,” alright, here’s the point, “I will,” it didn’t happen yet.  Moses is on a rock and God is explaining to Him, “Here’s what’s going to happen, and when it comes to pass, you’re going to know.”  He’s preparing him.  Imagine if God didn’t tell him in advance.  He says, “Show me I pray Three Thy glory,” and God grabbed him and threw him in the rock.  Just imagine if he didn’t know in advance.  I think I know what he would have thought, because it’s what I thought when I was going through things.  “I think I must have blown it.  I shouldn’t have prayed that pray.  He must be angry with me.  This must be some kind of a punishment.  What’s going on now must be something that God is upset with me.  I shouldn’t have been so bold.  After all He showed me, why was I so presumptuous.  I was not content with everything I’d already seen, and now God is mad at me.  I wish I’d never prayed that prayer.” 

That’s how you would think if He didn’t tell you in advance.  But He does tell you in advance, and that’s the glory of it.  You know in advance, so when it comes to pass, by simple faith you can say, “Thank You for warning me.  I don’t know what’s going on but it’s good, and I know that it’s glorious.”  Did He say that in this world you shall have tribulation?  He is preparing you.  That’s what He did.  Didn’t He say that you are going to be a savor of life and of death?  He told you in advance, and told you they are going to hate you, and told you they will persecute you, and told you you’re going to be rejected, He told you you’re going to be misrepresented, that people are going to mock you, and take advantage of you, reject you and your message.  So, we know.  Then we’re in the dark, and we say, “Ah, He’s doing what He said.”  It helps to know, and God tells us in advance, otherwise when we’re in the dark place we might think, “I’ve got to hold God’s love in suspicion.  I wonder if He loves me.  I wonder if He’s just like some distant spectator, just observing, or if He’s ignoring me altogether.  Has He forgotten me?”  That’s what I would think, but He lets me know in advance.

Now I said He prepares to begin to see Him.  Moses prayed, “I want to see all there is.  Show me Thy glory.”  God said, “You can’t see all of Me and live.”  Exodus 33:23, “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”  So, “You can’t see all of Me.  You’ll see My back, a small view.”  It will always be a small view.  You will never, ever, ever, and I will never, ever, ever see all there is of God, even in heaven you’ll not finally see Him.  He’s infinite and you are only eternal.  You can pursue infinity, but you can’t overtake it.  There’s always more concealed than revealed.  

I want to give you a definition.  What is the backside of God?  It’s one thing to say, “A little bit, only a partial view,” but what is that partial view?  He tells us in the next chapter.  Exodus 34:6&7, “Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgressions and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”  Those verses describe His back, his partial view. He’s passing by.  You say, “I’ve seen the Lord and I’ve seen His compassion and I’ve seen His love and I’ve seen His grace and I’ve seen His patience, and I’ve seen His truth, and I’ve seen His holiness,” but you’ve only begun to see the Lord.  That’s His backside.  You haven’t even started.  Until we arrive safely on the other shore, we’ll be praying 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now in part.”  We’ll always know in part.  We haven’t begun to know Him.

If somebody comes up to you and says, “I know God; listen to me,” we don’t know Him yet.  He’s infinite.  We are toddlers.  You haven’t been up to your ankles in the knowledge of the Lord.  We have such small capacities.  I think it’s gigantic arrogance for somebody to claim that they have this great vision of the Lord.  Nobody does.  You don’t and I don’t and we don’t.  Nobody does, but we see His backside, his love, and that’s only his back; His grace, His patience, His mercy.  That’s a little part.  Oh, if we could only see the Lord.

One more thing.  In His time.  I said that He prepares us to begin to see in His time.  What’s His time?  It’s when He takes His hand away.  He said, “I’m going to take My hand away, and then you’ll see in part.”  Have you ever noticed in your life when you are going through something and your head is going, “What’s going on?”  After a while you say, “I thank God for that, and you begin to understand a little bit, not a lot, but a little bit.  So, in His time He’ll take His hand away, just to encourage your faith and you’ll begin to say, “Well, now I see why this happened and why that divorce happened and why that accident happened and why… Now, praise the Lord, I know the Lord better through all of that.” 

By grace He puts us into a place that is dark and radical beyond human wisdom, but it’s all redemptive and it’s good and it’s for his glory, and we have this partial view.  Pray for me.  Oh wait; abide in Jesus and then pray for me, and when you ask me to pray for you, my prayer is, “Lord, help me abide, so I can be a true prayer warrior.”  You don’t have to work up a burden to pray.  You’ve just got to know Jesus.  When you know Jesus, your heart will go out in love and forbearance to all your brothers and sisters.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, not we think it means, but all that You’ve inspired it to mean.  Lord, whether we’re in the Old Testament or the New we’re brought to the place where we want to know You and abide in the rock, in the Lord Jesus.  Thank You for that graphic illustration that You gave to Your servant Moses and that we can study now.  We ask You to work these things in our hearts and we just commit these things to You, and we pray that you prepare Paul’s heart as he prepares to share Christ next Wednesday.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.