As my family gathered to celebrate the Passover this week, I was blessed to have my two sons and their wives, as well as all four of my grandchildren at our table. This was very meaningful to us as the Passover is actually a meal designed by G-D to be shared with your family as one generation tells the story of the Exodus to the next generation, in Hebrew, “L’dor V’dor.” As we went through our Seder meal and once again told the history of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, I sat in my chair looking across the table at the three generations of my family. It struck me that generational knowledge only travels one way.
In other words, as much as I would like to know how my grandchildren’s lives will turn out, what will they be when they grow up? Who they will marry and will they have children of their own? The truth is that my children can look at my life, see my history, and my grandchildren can look at the lives of their parents and their grandparents and see our collective history. But, none of us can look forward and see our individual futures.
My thoughts ran to Jeremiah 29:11, where G-D said:
“For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope.”
I looked around my table and I could see the proof of G-D’s promise that He has plans in mind for me and that those plans are amazing. I could clearly see some of the results of His plans seated around my table. Yet, as with all people, there are still times that I struggle with the desire to be able to know not just that His plans for me are amazing, but what those plans actually are.
I was reminded of the conversation between Moses and G-D in Exodus chapter 33. Starting with Exodus 33:12-13 we see:
So Moses said to Adonai “You say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My eyes.’ Now then, I pray, if I have found grace in Your eyes, show me Your ways, so that I may know You, so that I might find favor in Your sight. Consider also that this nation is Your people.”
Here we find Moses asking the same kind of questions I find myself asking G-D all too often. Moses says, paraphrasing, “You told me to bring ‘these people’ to the Promised Land, but You have not told me which of this bunch are going to be going.”
G-D’s answer to Moses is in verse 14:
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest,” He answered.
Notice G-D didn’t tell Moses who of the people were going. Instead, He told Moses that He would be going and the knowledge that G-D would be going with Moses should be enough of an answer. In other words, Moses didn’t need to know the future plan, as long as he knew that the One who did know those plans was with him. The conversation between G-D and Moses continues as Moses asked G-D if he would show him His glory. G-D responds with the following words:
But He also said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live.” Then Adonai said, “See, a place near Me—you will stand on the rock. While My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and cover you with My hand, until I have passed by. Then I will take away My hand, and you will see My back, but My face will not be seen.”
These words are often misapplied and misunderstood, however, if we look at the context of the discussion taking place, we may see this interaction in a new way.
Let’s review: Moses asks G-D to know what is going to happen in the future. G-D lets Moses know that as long as G-D is going with him that Moses should be at peace. Then G-D says to Moses he cannot see His face but he can see His back. In context, G-D is telling Moses that He has provided the history of His faithfulness for Moses to see and that that history should be enough for Moses to have faith for the future. Only G-D knows the future and according to His promise to us it is an amazing future. He has also given us a long history of His faithfulness so that we can see that He is faithful and this allows us to walk forward in peace. Another way to say this is “I don’t need to know the future to have peace because I do know the past.”