The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Exodus 33

Exo 33:6

SO THE ISRAELITES STRIPPED OFF THEIR ORNAMENTS AT MOUNT HOREB: Idolatry and immorality are often linked to such items of jewelry in the ancient Near East. The gold ornaments obtained from the Egyptians (Exo 3:22; 11:2; 12:35) were actually plunder (Exo 12:36). Possibly the gold ornaments had a direct association with the false worship of the Egyptians (cp Amo 5:26). And so the putting off of Israel's ornaments and jewelry was an appropriate act of repentance, because these ornaments were similar to those which had been contributed to make the golden calf (Exo 32:2-4). These images seem to have had an idolatrous association with the past, with pagan gods. Thus, to put off these ornaments was to show Israel's repentance over the golden calf incident.

It looks as though the Israelites never again put on these ornaments: "So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb" (Exo 33:6). Probably these ornaments, which the Israelites put off here, were later offered to God to be used for the furnishings of the Tabernacle (Exo 35:21,22). As implements of idolatry, these golden ornaments were fit only for destruction. But as tokens of Israel's repentance, these ornaments were fit for use in the Tabernacle furnishings, in the very presence of God, Here the "idols" of Egypt were still made to serve to One true God!

Exo 33:7

A TENT: "His own tent" (LXX). Moses dwelt separate from the nation, and for a time his tent was the center of divine revelation (cp Exo 18:7; Num 11:24; 12:4; WBS 167). "God would not dwell among them, though He would not forsake them" (GbS 85).

AND PITCH IT OUTSIDE THE CAMP SOME DISTANCE AWAY... ANYONE INQUIRING OF THE LORD WOULD GO TO THE TENT OF MEETING OUTSIDE THE CAMP: There are times when God is forced to stand aside from His people -- it is not His choice, but rather His mercy that causes Him to do this. The cause, of course, is the sinfulness of the people. God felt an urge to consume them -- to punish them (vv 3,5), and remained merciful only by distancing Himself from their evil practices, thus giving them a chance to repent. As a consequence of this, and to represent it in a real way to the people, Moses takes the tabernacle outside the camp, so that those who wish may make an effort to turn to God and be saved. Jesus, who was slain without the camp, is the same for us -- he is distanced from man's evil, yet still available for those who wish to go "outside the camp" to meet with him. Consider Psa 10:1; 35:22; Isa 59:2; Deu 4:29; Isa 55:6,7; Heb 13:11-13.

Exo 33:8

They were anxiously aware that something momentous might happen soon.

Exo 33:11

FACE TO FACE: Moses spoke with angelic messenger (Act 7:30,35,38,53) "face to face".

Exo 33:16

Cp Exo 32:32: "Do not cast away your people Israel."

Exo 33:18

SHOW ME YOUR GLORY: "This should be our constant prayer. This is the power of redemption and transformation. God is glorious to behold, glorious in fellowship and comfort and beauty and hope and joy. How dimly our dull flesh perceives His infinite gloriousness! But to perceive it, and to be drawn to it, and transformed by it, is Life Eternal. What has anything in this poor life to compare with the joy of that glory? Look up, and let it transform you" (GVG).

Exo 33:19

"No man has seen God at any time" (1Ti 1:17; 6:16). But Christ has "interpreted" him (Joh 1:18). Cp Num 12:8: "he sees the form of the LORD."

Exo 33:21

Vv 21-23: Typ death and resurrection of Christ, a "prophet like Moses" (Deu 18:15-18). Hidden in cleft of rock, waiting until God's glory passes by to revive him, then appearing to his brethren second time to bring a new law.

THERE IS A PLACE NEAR ME: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Rev 3:21).

Exo 33:22

"Rock of ages, cleft for me..."

Exo 33:23

MY BACK: The "after part" or "after glow" of God's glory. As we may see a glorious sunset after the sun is gone. Ct 2Co 4:6: the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

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