Pristine Grace

Ex 33:21-23, (GILL)
21  And the Lord said, behold, [there is] a place by me,.... Near him, not in or by the tabernacle, where it may be the pillar of cloud now was, as it had been, Ex 33:9 but upon the rock, where it had been for many days, and near to which there was a fit place for Moses to be in, and have that view of the goodness and glory of God he would favour him with:

and thou shall stand upon a rock; in Horeb, typical of Christ the rock, the rock of Israel, and the rock of ages, the rock of refuge, salvation, and strength; comparable to one for shelter, solidity, firmness, strength, and duration; and happy are they who stand upon this rock; they are safe and secure, they stand on high, and have noble prospects of the perfections of God, and of the riches of his grace and goodness, see Ps 50:2.

22  And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by,.... The displays of his grace and goodness are made:

that I will put thee in a clift of the rock; in one of the clefts, made by smiting it, through which the waters gushed out for the relief of the Israelites, and their flocks: and we are told [c], that to this day, on the summit of Mount Sinai, by the Arabians called Gibel el Mousa, or the mountain of Moses, is perceived a large chasm in the rock, said to be the cave where Moses hid himself from God, when the glory of the Lord passed before him. Now this cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as crucified, smitten, wounded and slain; who was smitten by the law and justice of God, as this rock was smitten by the rod of Moses: and had gashes and wounds made in him like the clefts of a rock, being pierced with the nails and spear: and in these clefts of the rock saints dwell by faith, So 2:14:

and will cover thee with my hand; with his cloud, as Ben Melech, and so may denote the cloudiness, obscurity, and darkness of the legal dispensation: but here it seems to denote imperfection, not being able to bear the full sight of the divine glory, and which angels themselves cannot bear, but cover their faces; and also the danger of being consumed, were it not that saints are in Christ, and covered and secured in him, otherwise God is a consuming fire:

while I pass by thee; or his glory, the glory of all his perfections, wisdom, holiness, justice, power, and faithfulness, and especially of his grace, mercy, and goodness in Christ.

[c] Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 167. see a Journal from Cairo, &c. p. 28, 29. Ed. 2.

23  And I will take away mine hand,.... As being covered with the hand may signify the obscurity of the former dispensation, the taking of it away may denote a more clear revelation of the grace and goodness of God in Christ, and so of the glory of it under the Gospel dispensation; and yet what is seen in this, in comparison of the reality of things as they are, or of the heavenly state, are but as next expressed:

and thou shalt see my back parts; which some understand of the humanity of Christ, and his sufferings in it, sometimes expressed by his heel, and the bruising of it, Ge 3:15 or else the works of God in creation, by which the invisible things of God are seen, and which give a knowledge of him "a posteriori"; and so Maimonides [d] interprets the phrase, which follow me, flow from my will, i.e. all my creatures: or rather it denotes the imperfect knowledge of God in the present state, even as revealed in Christ, in whom there are the clearest and brightest displays of his glory; yet this, in comparison of the beatific sight of him, is but like seeing a man that is gone by, whose back is only to be seen:

but my face shall not be seen; in the present state, the face of God, that is, his favour, communion with him, and the light of his countenance, are to be sought for, and may be enjoyed; the glory of himself is to be seen in the face or person of Christ, and the glory of that face or person is to be seen in the glass of the Gospel, but at present imperfectly; God in Christ as he is, the fullest and brightest displays of his glory, grace, and goodness, are reserved to another state, see 1Co 13:9 or it may regard the divine nature of Christ, which could not be seen by Moses, but his back parts, or human; Christ as clothed with flesh might, and would be seen by him, as he was seen by him on the mount, Mt 17:3.

[d] Moreh Nevochim, par. 1. c. 38.

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