Exodus 33 happens in a very critical time in the history of the children of Israel. They had seen more miracles from God, God came and visited them, and the icing on the cake, God made them His covenant people. On the hills of this amazing covenant, and all the wonders of the Lord, the children of Israel chose to serve a different god. One that they made themselves. The children of Israel worshiped the golden calf as Moses was having a one on one conversation with God on top of the mountain. It’s on this backdrop that Exodus 33 takes place.
Exodus 33 verse 3, God instructs Moses to go ahead and leave Mt. Sinai. He says that His Angel will go with them, but He won’t be in their midst. The reason why He said this is because He was sad and disappointed by their actions. He had just invited them into His kingdom, and they repaired Him with distrust. The reason for their actions is because they were a stiff-necked people. What this means is that they didn’t want to change their way of thinking. Their way of thinking was already set in stone. They thought like they were slaves henceforth, they acted like slaves. Every time push came to shove, they responded like slaves. The gold calf situation exposed their thinking. When Moses didn’t come down, they wanted a god like they did in Egypt.
Moses on the other had spent 40 years in the desert and God removed the identity he had in Egypt. So, when the burning bush came around, Moses was very pliable. The more God exposed Himself to Moses, the more Moses was in awe of Him. This reached the climax in Exodus 33, Moses cried out to God. In verse 13, Moses tells God to show him His way that he may know Him. The more time Moses spent with God, the more his desire to be intimate with God grew. It grew to the point where Moses was hungry to know Him, and we wouldn’t leave until he does.
If Moses had met God right after he left Egypt, he wouldn’t have humble himself before the Lord like he did. In Egypt, he was a prince and people sought him and his attention, he was the one to be desired because he was a prince. After 40 years in the wilderness, he buried the identity he got from Egypt (the world). On the other hand, the children of Israel didn’t leave the identity they got from Egypt (the world). As a result, there was always complications on how they related to God.
Galatians 4:1, “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.”
In this above verse when Holy Spirit says children, He is referring to a lack of knowledge and maturity level. These two are associated with children. The children of Israel lacked knowledge and maturity, and they stayed as slaves until all of them died in the desert. As a matter of fact, they ended up adding 40 years of wilderness to Joshua and Caleb. We must beware of who we have around us. The key difference between Moses, Joshua and Caleb, and Israel, was that they were pliable. The Israelite’s didn’t let God define who they were after seeing all that God did for them.