SOAP Journal – 18 January 2017 (Exodus 34:8)

Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.

Exodus 34:8

God calls Moses back up the mountain, telling Moses to bring along another set of stone tablets like the ones that had previously been written on by God. When Moses gets to the place where God is going to write on the tablets all the things that He had written on the previous set, He fulfills His promise to Moses, going past him and proclaiming the Name; the character of the LORD. Moses’ response to seeing God go past him and hearing the character of the LORD proclaimed by God Himself is to fall to the ground and worship.

Knowing that the words that are often translated worship can vary pretty widely in meaning, I decided to pull out the concordance and look this one up. The word used (שָׁחָה shachah ) is defined there as prostrating one’s self. This confused me a bit, as the action just before the prostration was bowing low. But that word, apparently, can mean bowing as little of the body as just the head.

So Moses, seeing God pass by him and hearing God proclaim His character, begins with a bow, possibly as little as just lowering his eyes and inclining his head, and continues until he is face down on the ground. And that, to me, seems a reasonable response.

To know that God is passing by calls for a lowering of my eyes. I need to not be looking directly at Him as He passes. But the revelation of His character is something else. The better I get to know God, the lower and less worthy I feel myself to be. And that is as it should be. When faced with perfection, I cannot and should not have any reason or place for pride. Sure, the NT writers tell me to come boldly before God, but to come before Perfection Himself at all is to come boldly. It would be an insufferable boldness to enter into God’s presence without Him first inviting me there. That He invites me just gives me permission to enter, it should not change my response to being in His presence. When the presence of God enters the temple — much later in the unfolding saga of the Israelites — the priests cannot perform their priestly duties because God’s presence is that overwhelming. The proper response to further revelation of Who God is should be greater and greater humility. Or, as John the Baptist said it, “He must increase. I must decrease.”

And that is the application for this principle, as well. The more I get to know God; the better I understand Who He is and what His character is, the more humbled I should be that He takes any notice of me at all. As the psalmist wrote, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

Father, thank You for this reminder. The more clearly You come into view, the less I think of myself. Please enable me to see You more and more clearly and to think of myself less and less; to get down on my knees and give You Your due.

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