In an intimate moment of prayer, Moses pleaded for God to reveal himself in all his glory. I read these verses and wonder if Moses was experiencing alzheimer in his old age (he was over 80 years old!) Moses experienced the burning bush, plagues of Egypt, smoke and fire, the ten commandments, and Gods voice. What more could there possibly be?
But, Moses knew there was more.
He understood that God was greater than what his mind could imagine. It's interesting to me that people think they have God all figured out. That they, in their grapefruit sized brains, could comprehend the creator of all things, including time itself! How foolish. There is so much more to God. Moses understood this and wanted more. He wasn't content with the knowledge that he had up until that point. He wanted more and God wanted to give him more. God wants to give you more too!
God couldn't show him his complete glory.
God's glory is so magnificent, so complex that our minds couldn't contain it. His full glory would kill us.
So, God gave Moses a glimpse.
God had Moses stand in cleft where his peripheral vision was blocked. God then declared his glory and obstructed Moses's vision as his 'goodness' passed by. God then allowed Moses to see his residual glory. God's declaration and residuary glory was so powerful and epic that it caused Moses to literally shine! He couldn't even contain God's residual glory. He actually had to wear a veil to conceal it because people were afraid of him.
God declared his glory.
Unfortunately, we have no idea what Moses actually saw, but we are fortunate in that God declared his glory and that we can experience it! So, you ask, what was the declaration? His name!
Forgiving, merciful and judgment?
He exclaims that he is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, loving, faithful, and forgiving... and then, he says that he will punish the guilty.
Is this a contradiction?
It would seem so. But, this paradox, these contrasting statements, were made complimentary to each other in Jesus Christ.
Jesus brought these two attributes together at the cross by exchanging guilt, judgment, and punishment for grace, love, and forgiveness!