Exodus 33

1 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘You must now leave here with the people that you brought out of Egypt. You must take them to the land that I promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I made a serious promise to them that I would give the land to their descendants. 2 I will send an angel to lead you. I will chase the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites out of the land. 3 You will go to that land where there is plenty of food and drink, enough for everyone. But I will not travel with you. You are proud people who refuse to obey me. If I go with you, I might destroy you as you travel.’

4 The Israelites heard God's strong words. His message made them very upset. They stopped wearing their jewels, to show that they were sad. 5 The Lord had said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites, “You are proud people who refuse to obey me. If I go with you, even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now remove your jewels. Then I will decide what I should do with you.” ’

6 So the Israelites no longer wore their jewels after they left Sinai mountain.

The special tent

7 As they travelled, Moses put up a special tent outside the camp. It was not near the other tents. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone could go there to ask the Lord about something. They would go to the Tent of Meeting that was outside the camp.

33:7This ‘Tent of Meeting’ was probably not yet the proper tabernacle. But it was a special tent where God would meet with people.

8 When Moses went out to the special tent, all the people would stand at the doors of their tents. They would watch Moses until he went into the special tent. 9 When Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down. The cloud would stay at the door of the tent while the Lord spoke to Moses.

10 Every time that the people saw the pillar of cloud at the door of the special tent, they all stood up. Then each person would stand at the door of his tent. They would bend low to worship the Lord. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp. But Nun's son Joshua always stayed in the special tent. Joshua was a young man who helped Moses.

God's great glory

12 Moses said to the Lord, ‘You have said to me, “Lead these people to their new land.” But you have not told me who my helper will be on the journey. You have told me, “I know you by your name. I am very pleased with you.” 13 If you are really pleased with me, tell me your thoughts. I want to understand you properly. Then I can continue to please you. Remember that this nation, the Israelites, are your own people.’

14 The Lord replied, ‘I myself will go with you. I will give you rest.’

33:14This means that God would take them safely to their new home.

15 Then Moses said, ‘If you do not agree to go with us, do not let us go anywhere. 16 If you do not go with us, nobody will know that you are pleased with me. Nobody will know that you are pleased with us as your special people. I, and all your people, will be the same as all the other people in the world.’

17 The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will certainly do what you have asked for. This is because I am pleased with you. I know you by your name.’

18 Then Moses said, ‘Please, show me your glory!’

19 The Lord said, ‘I will let you see how great and good I am. I will tell you my name, that I am the Lord. If I choose to be kind to someone, I will be kind to them. If I choose to forgive someone, I will forgive them. 20 But you will never see my face. Nobody can see my face and still be alive.’

21 Then the Lord said, ‘Look! There is a place near to me. You can stand there on a rock. 22 When my glory passes in front of you, I will put you in a hole in the rock. I will cover your eyes with my hand as I pass by there. 23 Then I will remove my hand so that you will see my back. But nobody must ever see my face.’