Synopsis:God promises Moses to give him lots of land. Moses then pitches a tabernacle outside of camp and calls whoever wants to meet God to the tabernacle. Everyone who sought the lord went. Moses went into the tabernacle and a cloud descended and stood at the door. Moses talks with God person to person. Moses comes back out of the Tabernacle, but Joshua does not. God promises to be friendly. Moses asks Him to show his glory. God says, ok, but you can only see my backside. I don’t want you to die because you glimpsed my front side.
In other words:God puts on a show for the people of Israel, but not everyone can be bothered to show up.
What I think really happened:The way I read this, as a Humanist, is that in order to prove God’s existence to shore up support for his ideas and approach, Moses stages a “god” sighting using Joshua to help. They put up a tent and both go inside. Smoke is seen. Moses is clearly seen talking to someone. There are some big promises made and “god” agrees to be seen, but only his backside so that you can’t tell it’s really Joshua. Magic with smoke. Pay not attention to the man behind the curtain.
Favorite bit:That not everyone came out to see this big miracle. Clearly whoever these people were, they were not a united group at this point. Probably had competing factions vying for power.
Moral Lesson Learned:Don’t believe everything you see (Exodus 33)
Some people are easily fooled, don’t be among them (Exodus 33)