Beginning to See God’s Greatness

The time has finally come. The children of Israel have been wandering in the wilderness for forty years, and now, finally, they are on the cusp of the Promised Land. Moses, over a century old, is giving his farewell address to the nation he has led for a third of his life. We know this address as the last book of the Torah: Deuteronomy. In his final words to God’s chosen people, Moses will revisit their fathers’ unfaithfulness in the wilderness, recount the allotment of the land on the eastern side of the Jordan, recap the Law, and remind them of the blessings that await if they obey—and the curse that will befall them when they disobey. Moses has seen it all and put up with it all, and now he’s ready to die. 

As he finishes the first portion of his discourse to Israel, he includes a prayer in which he beseeches God to allow him to enter the Promised Land. He begins this prayer with an amazing statement:

“Lord God, you have begun to show your greatness and your strong hand to your servant, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours?” (Deuteronomy 3:24)

Firsthand Encounters with God’s Greatness

Just think about the greatness of God that Moses has seen firsthand. Though Moses probably doesn’t remember it, his life began with the greatness of God on display as he was providentially spared from the infanticidal edict of Pharaoh and adopted by Pharaoh’s own daughter. After leaving Egypt and having his own forty-year wilderness experience as a shepherd, Moses met God in the burning bush (Ex. 3). In this encounter with God, he heard the Lord speak audibly for the first time; learned the name of God which was too holy even to be written out in its entirety by Israel (v. 14); saw his hand instantly turned leprous (vv. 6–7); and witnessed his staff change to a snake (vv. 2–5) before his very eyes! He then saw each of the ten plagues, from frogs to locusts to blood to darkness (Ex. 8–11). And, most impressively, he witnessed the Passover when thousands of firstborn children and livestock died in a single night (Ex. 12).

Moses watched as Yahweh parted the waters of the Red Sea, and the people walked across to safety on dry ground (Ex. 14:10–30). He ate manna every day (Ex. 16); he saw water spring out of a rock not once but twice (Ex. 17; Num. 20:11). He also had a front-row seat to some awesome displays of God’s holy wrath: he saw Korah, Dathan, and Abiram swallowed up by the ground (Num. 16:10–35); and Nadab and Abihu consumed by fire from the Lord (Lev. 10:1–2). 

Believe it or not, it gets better. On Mt. Sinai, Moses had the boldness to ask God to show him His glory, a request Yahweh partially granted (Ex. 33:18-23). Finally, Moses is the only man ever to have known God “face to face” (Deut. 34:10). In fact, he had to cover his face after speaking with the Lord because it shone—and Moses didn’t even realize it! (Ex. 34:29–35). The phrase “The Lord spoke to Moses” is used 77 times in the Christian Standard Bible (csb). Exodus 33:11 says that God spoke to Moses “as a man speaks with his friend.” 

Moses had an intimate, personal relationship with his God. This man knew God in a way that no other human being ever has. And yet he, at the end of this life of literal friendship with the Most High, says, “You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness.” Wow. 

From Humdrum to Humbled

I find this statement by Moses so amazing because of my own quickness to think, “Yeah, I know,” when it comes to the attributes of God. I know what immutable means and the distinction between God’s immanence and His transcendence. I can list the “omni’s” and tell you the difference between communicable and incommunicable attributes. A study on the attributes of God can, at least to me, almost seem blasé. Familiarity, after all, breeds contempt. But it didn’t for Moses (and it shouldn’t for me).

Moses’ statement agrees with the words of Job that we know just the “fringes” of God’s ways and hear but an echo of Him (Job 26:14). Because I tend to be much too enamored with myself, I think that I have a grip on who God is. Instead, I should be enamored with God and realize that anything I have a “grip” on is just a fringe of the character of God. He is so much more than I will ever be able to comprehend, and that’s just as it should be. 

A god that I can wrap my hands around and truly understand is no god at all. Any god like that is a god of my own making, made in my own finite, comprehensible image. The ways of God are past finding out, and that’s part of the beauty of who He is. I can spend my life—on earth and in eternity—getting to know Him, and still after 10,000 years in heaven, say with Moses, “You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness.”

An Eternal, Joyful Journey 

Getting to know God is never boring, blasé, or trite; it is an unending adventure of joy, and the deeper I go the more I will realize that I have so much still to learn. It’s not primarily a theological or intellectual pursuit. It’s not about spouting facts and fifty-cent words. Yes, Moses knew God in a way that I won’t here on earth, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a deeply personal relationship with Him. I do! He gave His Son on my behalf to purchase such a relationship. He has revealed Himself through His Word and through Christ and has given me His Spirit so that I can know Him, not academically but relationally. While theological categories and facts are both helpful and necessary, they do not themselves equal “knowing God.” 

Knowing God happens over the course of a lifetime (and beyond!) in the valley, on the mountaintop, and in the flat path of wilderness in between—just as Moses did. It will take eternity to find out all that “I AM” means; just how “good” a Shepherd the Lord is; the stretches of His sovereignty, wisdom, and power. These are not things learned in a classroom, but over the course of a life spent in fellowship with the One who calls Himself Yahweh, El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Elohim, Lord Sabaoth, the Holy One of Israel, Father.

You’ve seen the difference Revive Our Hearts has made in the lives of other women. You’ve soaked in God’s Word with Nancy, then taken it home and made it personal. What’s your next step with Revive Our Hearts? It may be time for you to serve. If you’re passionate about serving women’s ministry leaders and excited about what God is doing through this ministry, becoming a Revive Our Hearts Ambassador might be for you! For more information, visit

About the Author

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson lives in a small Minnesota town with her husband, son and daughter, and ridiculous black dog. She enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and coaching basketball. You can read more of her musings about God's Word at

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