“Show me Your Glory”: The Utmost Cry of Every Revivalist Heart Part 1

Recommended Scripture reading: Exodus 32-35, 2 Corinthians 12-18

The four words that Moses uttered, “Show me your glory,” carry as much weight for us today as it did during Israel’s wilderness years. The glory of God revealed and experienced and our appropriate response of trembling and worship is the beginning and the ongoing ending place of spiritual revival. It is by the revelation of His glory that we are made to see His holiness and the sin which separates us from sweet fellowship with Him. Upon confession and subsequent renewal of intimacy with God, it is for deeper revelation of His glory that every revived heart longs for. The revivalist heart is a worshipping heart. It is set upon a deeper relationship with God predicated on deeper revelations of glory. To be shown the glory of God in greater measures is the beginning and the continual end pursuit of revival. Beholding His unending glory is the way that we are transformed into Jesus’ image from one glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).

In the subsequent exposition of Exodus 32-35, we will see a roadmap for spiritual revival as lived out by Moses and Israelites in their day which is applicable to our own ongoing spiritual revival these days. Briefly, these chapters follow the story of Israel’s rebellion in worshipping the golden calf, the subsequent intercession of Moses, the relenting of God’s wrath and the restoration of the covenant relationship by mercy. The roadmap for spiritual revival as seen in this story starts with intercession and is followed with confession and repentance. It then leads to a time of waiting on God with eventual restoration of relationship with Him. Out of restoration comes worship and the need for ongoing cycles of spiritual renewal in our lives to be transformed towards higher and higher degrees of glory.

We shall begin, along with the Israelites, at our common state of being spiritually rebellious and dead with the need for revival. As we walk through their story, we will discover the integral connection between God’s glory and our restoration and salvation. “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Ps 80:3).

Part 1: Intercession, Confession & Repentance


 In Exodus 33, we are given the details surrounding the aftermath of Israel’s rebellion in worshipping the golden calf (Ex. 32). While atop Mount Sinai, God revealed that His wrath was kindled against Israel’s idolatrous ways and that His wrath was about to consume them. In fact, the verses indicate that God was ready to start over His redemptive plan again, just like He had started over with Noah and the flood, but this time with Moses as the one to continue the messianic lineage (Ex 32:10). 

At the end of chapter 32, Moses executes lethal judgement on unrepentant idolaters, thus purging the Israelite people of future stumbling blocks. But that is not all, he also recognized that the unbelief and rebellion of the people ran so deep into their hearts, that he must continue to intercede for them. And it is this act of intercession and the subsequent events that in fact lead to a revival in the people’s faith and obedience. This was the beginning of a people, starting with Moses, who wanted only for God to once again show them His favour and glory above everything else. 

Intercession as a Prerequisite for Spiritual Revival

All revival begins with intercession. I know of no historic or current movements of revival that do not have persistent prayer to God to be merciful to His people as a foundational basis.  It must be so, for all revival begins with a deeply pervasive understanding of our own sin – an admission that our idolatry has removed us from the holy presence of God. God rightly removes His presence from people who have seen and experienced His miraculous salvation but deny Him worship. 

Intercession paves the way forward for confession; it is to implore God to be merciful yet again for the sake of renewed relationship. Intercession ought to happen even for those whose spiritually inert hearts rage on in sin. It need not happen only when a hint of penitence shows up. Intercession for the spiritually dead ought to happen similar to Jesus dying for sinners while we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:8). In our story, we see that before Moses even descended the mountain to confront the people and call for confession, he began interceding and calling upon the Lord to relent from bringing immediate destruction on the golden calf worshipers (Ex 32:11-14). We should take his example – to intercede for the showering of God’s mercy upon an ignorant and rebellious people even before calling them to confession and repentance.

Intercession paves the way forward for confession; it is to implore God to be merciful yet again for the sake of renewed relationship.

Confession & Repentance

We then move to Moses having come down the mountain to confront the idolaters and call them to confession and repentance. In Exodus 33:3, through Moses, God declared His coming wrath against the Israelites, calling them a “stiff-necked people” and declared that His presence would not go any further with them. He also commanded them to “take off their ornaments” as an act of repentance. Upon hearing this “disastrous word, [the Israelites] mourned and no one put on his ornaments” (Ex 33:4). Presumably, these ornaments were used during their worship ceremonies of the golden calf and by removing them, the people were putting away their idols and the means of idol worship.

 As to the genuineness of this act of confession and repentance, we take note that they responded this way even after God guaranteed their safe and victorious entry into the promised land (Ex 33:1-2). In other words, despite the blessings God was still willing to pour out on these rebellious people, to them, what made God’s declaration a ‘disastrous word’ was that “[God] would not go up among [them]” (Ex: 33:3). Is this genuine response not the chief aim of the intercessor? Would it be that everyone who mourns over their sin is not mourning simply the loss of blessings from the Lord but the very loss of God’s presence. The intercessor’s prayer is answered when rebellious hearts simply desire God and God alone. 

Confession for the Purpose of Relational Intimacy

As an aside, it is indeed utterly mind-blowing that God was still willing to bring this rebellious people to the land of milk and honey. It is because God is a covenant-keeping God, faithful to His word that He would bring them (Ex 33:1). However, I must intimate that there was at least some temptation for the Israelites to presume on God and accept receiving all of God’s blessings without relationship with God Himself. They could very well have accepted God’s proposal and received the inheritance of the patriarchs and then lived in that promised land devoid of God’s presence. It is a relief that we see the opposite response in this story. 

Yet, I fear today, many Christians are presented with this same temptation and succumb. We look to God to fulfil our life’s goals and desires more than simply being in His presence. And at times, by the wisdom and forbearance of God, He hands us over to those very desires. He allows for their fulfilment yet removes His presence and as we enjoy and revel in those fulfilled desires but repeatedly come short of true satisfaction, we begin to loathe them. The things we thought would bring fulfilment instead bring dissatisfaction and God shows us the emptiness of a world full of His blessings but devoid of His presence. Take heed of that moment. When we are confronted with the grim reality of a life lived without God’s presence, we must take the humble response of the Israelites and confess our idolatry and mourn as they do until the presence of God will once again go with us. 

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones comments on the heart of this right response, “To be given every other blessing is of no value if God is not with you. What is the value of Canaan? What is the value of milk and honey? What is the value of having possessions, if God was not with them? They saw that the realisation of the presence of God, having this fellowship and company, was infinitely more important than everything else.” 

Amen to that.

Reflection Questions - Part 1

Who is there in your life that God is calling you to intercede for? Pray for them and be encouraged that you do not need to see even a flicker of spiritual life on their part because God can revive even the most dead hearts. 

Do you desire more of God’s presence in your life?

Are you experiencing the sweetness of fellowship with God on a daily basis? If not, are you aware of any areas of idolatry in your life that have forced God to remove His presence? Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal these to you.

Confess and repent from worshipping the idols you’ve identified. The Iraelites took off their ornaments of idol worship as an act of repentance. What is God asking you to “take off” as your act of repentance? 

When you do not experience God’s favour and presence are you most concerned about the removal of His blessings or the removal of His presence? 

Categories: Encouragement