Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849. The next year, she returned and led her niece and two children to freedom. She went back 13 times and led approximately 70 slaves to freedom, becoming the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. She was never caught, and she never lost a “passenger.” She also spied for Union forces during the Civil War. For her courage and leadership, she became known as the “Moses of her people.”
On several occasions, Moses rescued the Israelites from God’s wrath through intercessory prayer. As we read yesterday, he pleaded with the Lord not to destroy Israel (Ex. 32:11–14). After he’d chastised the people, he again prayed for them, even to the point of saying, “Please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex. 32:31–32). God rejected this offer, but it showed Moses’ deep love for his people.
Moses was in such continuous prayer for Israel that he set up a “tent of meeting” outside the camp (33:7–11). Remarkably, God would meet there with him “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” In today’s reading, Moses made three requests. First, he wanted a closer relationship with the Lord: “Teach me your ways so I may know you” (33:13). This prayer was answered in God’s proclamation of Himself as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (34:6–7).
Second, Moses asked for God’s presence to accompany the people (33:15–16; 34:8–9). This request was granted, a response that was also due to their repentance (33:3–6). The covenant was restored. And third, Moses asked to see God’s glory, a request that was also granted, but only partially (33:18–21).
God’s proclamation of Himself in Exodus 34:6–7 is quoted many times in the Old Testament (see, for instance, Psalm 86:15 and Joel 2:13). Take time today to meditate on and give praise for these verses. Remember events in your life when you have seen these qualities of God in action. And ask Him to give you a prayer life like that of Moses!