the greatness of moses
The Scriptures indicate that Yahweh sent an angel to lead Israel through the wilderness instead of himself (see verse 2: “I will send an angel before thee” and verse 3: “for I will not go up in the midst of thee”). But Why? “because thou art a stiff-necked people, lest I consume thee in the way”. So clearly it was Yahweh himself speaking face to face with Moses veiled in a black cloud (Exo. 20:21 “thick darkness” also Deuteronomy 4:11; 5:22).
Moses was the only man to whom Yahweh spoke “face to face.” Moses was so great in the eyes of Yahweh. This is revealed in Numbers chapter 12, where Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. Miriam was the instigator, and it was Miriam that was smitten with leprosy. Yahweh was so angry with them that they should dare speak against his beloved servant Moses: and “Yahweh heard it” (verse 2).
The reason was because Moses had remarried. “because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married, for he had married an Ethiopian woman”. It is repeated for emphasis—he married a black woman. He needed a companion, for it would appear that Zipporah had left him and returned with her father Jethro, when he came with her and her two sons. Exodus 18:2 notice: “after he had sent her back”. That was when she, in her temper circumcised her son and cast it at Moses feet, saying “a bloody husband thou art”. So Moses sent her home. So now, in Exodus 18:2, Jethro brought her and her two sons (verse 6-7):
“Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obedience”, (looking up to his Father in law) “and kissed him” but there is no mention of him kissing his wife – she evidently had not repented for what she did to Moses. She is never mentioned again, but Moses took his two sons, for they held offices later on in the history of Israel.
So, returning back to Numbers 12 to consider the greatness of Moses, we read in verse 3:
“now the man Moses was meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”
So also was Jesus, as prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:18:
“I will raise up a prophet like unto thee.”
So Jesus said “I am meek and lowly of heart.” So also must we be humble and of a contrite spirit, trembling at The Word: “except ye become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom.” Pride—which we are born with—is abhorrent to Yahweh.
In Numbers 12:5, we read:
“and Yahweh came down in the pillar of cloud, and stood, the door” He became “the door”, just as the Christ-Spirit in Jesus said, “I am the door”.
Yahweh called Aaron and Miriam (verses 5-6):
“and he said, hear now my words: if there be a prophet among you (notice: if) I Yahweh will make myself known to him, in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream, My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house”.
In other words, his private life is not your concern: “he is faithful in all my house” (vs 8), “with him will I speak mouth to mouth”.
Notice: “with him.” Moses was the only man ever (apart from Yahweh’s beloved son), even “apparently” which is also rendered “appearance.” In sight “and not in dark speeches” and the similitude of Yahweh shall he behold”. Brother John Thomas wrote that this was not fulfilled until Moses, after being raised, beheld Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Brother Thomas wrote concerning Moses in The Herald 1893, page 267:
He was the greatest character the world has known with one exception. The world’s great ones are not to be named in the same breath! Moses—what meekness, self-denial, wisdom, knowledge, power, honour, glory, exaltation doth that name represent! A man that was dead and is alive again (Exo. 19:9), and lives for ever more; yet though living still in hope, not having received the promise, but awaiting for it, that all who believe may be glorified together in the Kingdom of God restored again to Israel.
Returning to Exodus 33, after Yahweh told the people that He would not go personally with them because they were so stiff-necked (verse 3) and “lest I consume thee”, which made them very fearful (verses 4-6). So Moses had to remove the tabernacle “far off” “without the camp” – which Paul testifies of Jesus in Hebrews 13:13: “let us therefore go unto him, without the camp, bearing his reproach.”
We notice back in Exodus 33, and verse 8: “every man stood at his tent door.” He was the Door. So also in verse 9: “and it came to pass, as Moses entered into the Tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended and stood, the tent door of the Tabernacle, and talked with Moses.” And notice the end of verse 10: “every man … his tent door” and verse 11: “Yahweh spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend”. As Bro Thomas wrote in the Herald 1853, page 73:
“Yahweh descended in a cloud and stood with Moses on Mount Sinai”.
Now verse 12 again shows how great Moses was in Yahweh’s sight, when he said: “I know thee by name and thou hast also found grace in my sight” which is repeated in verse 17, and in verse 18, Moses said:
“I beseech thee, show me thy glory” (verse 19):
“I will make all my goodness pass before thee,” this was fulfilled in verses 20-23, whereas the proclamation of The Name was fulfilled in chapter 34:5-7).
The face of Yahweh can only be seen by Jesus and his angels, as Jesus said:
“their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven” (Mat. 18:10).
“The Angel of Yahweh encamps about them that fear him to deliver them” and they shall be made like unto the angels to die no more. Jesus also said: “blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see Yahweh” (Mat. 5:8).