The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.”
Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”
The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” Exodus 33:17-23
I know you by name.
A God too glorious to be looked upon directly. A God who must cover Moses with his hand in order to protect Moses from a glory too powerful for him to behold. This God says, “I know you by name.”
Every time I read this passage I am amazed—and truthfully a little jealous. What must it have been like to see God’s glory? To have God pass by so close and so present? How must it have looked or felt to have the very hand of God cover you? To hear him call out his own name?
And to be told, “I know you by name.”
What’s in a name if not our whole identity? It’s how we are called to dinner, invited to the party, given license to drive and freedom to voice our own vote. Our name is our record of where we’ve been as we carve it in trees and print it on papers. It’s the first thing new friends learn about us, but those who know and love us best can say it ways like no other.
It is our name. Not just an identifier, but a part of who we are. When it is spoken it brings to mind not just a face, but a personality. It evokes feelings in the hearers. Is this one they love? One they have had difficulty with? One they wish to know better? To speak a name is to recall a soul, a person, an image bearer.
And God says to Moses, “I know you by name.”
I know your soul. I know your heart. I know what makes you YOU.
How can it be that a God who is too glorious to look in the eye would even deem us worthy of knowing? And yet he does. He knows us by name.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3