Moses’ prayer to behold God’s glory is oft bandied about in a individualistic way. Indeed, Moses’ longing is the longing of every true saint, and Paul makes this application alluding to Moses’ experience in 2 Corinthians 3:15–18.
Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Yet, note that Paul refers to this as something “we all” behold. This is the corporate experience of the church.
When you read Exodus 32–34 who do you identify with? “Show me Your glory,” we pray, but do you ever think of this as being prayed by another for your benefit? This chapter is the apex of Moses’ mediation, which runs like a mountain range through Exodus. Moses’ mediation is no small theme in this book. The theme of mediation isn’t comprised of a few foothills with a couple of snowcapped heights. Exodus contains the Old Testament Himalayas of mediation, and here stands Everest. Moses as mediator clearly is a foreshadowing of Jesus, yet, when Moses makes his boldest request, we want to insert ourselves. We’re not Moses. We’re golden-calf worshipping Israel. We need a mediator. To behold the face of God we need a Mediator who has beheld the face of God.
When Moses cries out to see God’s glory, that request cannot be separated from His pleading for His people. Moses’ beholding God’s glory speaks to the favor He has found with God, and if the Mediator has found favor, the people can take hope of God’s presence with them (Exodus 32:16).
The glory of God that the saints will forever behold is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). This is no mere reflected glory as with Moses for Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). Our great confidence of seeing God’s glory is our Mediator’s prayer, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24).”