I received the following question:
Exodus 33:18-19. And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
19. Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
What’s the difference between glory and goodness and grace?
The glory of the LORD has to do with honor, esteem, or magnificence. As I have said in my article on “Long Hair and Glory,” glory is that about you which you value most, or which is most valuable or honorable about yourself. In the Bible, I believe it is connected with the Lord Jesus Christ by the statement in II Corinthians 4:6.
6. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
So the Lord Jesus is the glory of God. When He appeared before Moses, He was not emptied of all His majesty, as He was when He came to earth. Thus, Moses was not allowed to see His face, because no one could see Him in that state and live.
The goodness of the LORD is connected with good things, such as the good produce of the land that brings life-giving food to a people. So it can have to do with the LORD’s “good things” that He provides for us. Yet it also seems to be connected simply to goodness as a more abstract principle as a characteristic of God. Yet the emphasis seems to be on the God Who overflows with good things towards His people. He is a God Who delights in giving good things to those who please Him.
The idea in the Exodus passage seems to be that the goodness of the LORD, that is, the LORD in all His abundantly good aspects, will pass before Moses.
The idea of being gracious here seems to be that of showing favor, mercy, or grace to a person. Grace is God’s love and favor to people without regard to whether or not they deserve it. Many ask for grace from God in the Old Testament, and this passage tells us that the LORD was willing to give it. In Moses’ case, he was willing to let Moses see at least His back in all His glory. He would be gracious to Moses, and allow Him to live after seeing this.