1Then the Lord said to Moses, “You and the people you brought out of Egypt must leave this place. Go to the land that I promised with an oath to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I said, ‘I will give that land to your descendants.’ 2I will send an angel to lead you. And I will force these people out of the land: the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 3Go up to the land where much food grows. But I will not go with you. This is because I might destroy you on the way. You are such a stubborn people.”
4The people heard this bad news, and they became very sad. None of them put on jewelry. 5This was because the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stubborn people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I would destroy you. So take off all your jewelry. Then I will decide what to do with you.’” 6So the people of Israel took off their jewelry at Mount Sinai.
The Meeting Tent
7Moses used to take a tent and set it up a long way outside the camp. Moses called it the “Meeting Tent.” A person might want to ask the Lord about something. Then he would go to the Meeting Tent outside the camp. 8Anytime Moses went out to the Tent, all the people would rise. They stood at the entrances of their tents and watched Moses until he entered the Meeting Tent. 9When Moses went into the Tent, the pillar of cloud would always come down. It would stay at the entrance of the Tent while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10The people saw the pillar of cloud at the entrance of the Tent. Then they stood and worshiped, each person at the entrance of his own tent.
11The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp. But Moses’ young helper, Joshua son of Nun, did not leave the Tent.
12Moses said to the Lord, “You have told me to lead these people. But you did not say whom you would send with me. You have said to me, ‘I know you very well. I am pleased with you.’ 13If I have truly pleased you, show me your plans. Then I may know you and continue to please you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
14The Lord answered, “I myself will go with you. And I will give you victory.”
15Then Moses said to him, “If you yourself don’t go with us, then don’t send us away from this place. 16If you don’t go with us, no one will know that you are pleased with me and your people. These people and I would be no different from any other people on earth.”
17Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will do what you ask. This is because I know you very well, and I am pleased with you.”
Moses and God’s Greatness
18Then Moses said, “Now, please show me your greatness.”
19The Lord answered, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you. I will announce my name, the Lord, so you can hear it. I will show kindness to anyone I want to show kindness. I will show mercy to anyone I want to show mercy. 20But you cannot see my face. No one can see me and stay alive.
21“There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22My greatness will pass that place. I will put you in a large crack in that rock. And I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back. But my face must not be seen.”