WILDERNESS: On the Difference Between Hiddenness and Hiding


May 26, 2020

Exodus 33:18-23 (NIV)

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”


18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

Here’s the lesson for me today: God will reveal the glory of Heaven, which is his presence, to all who are willing to be hidden in him on Earth. Hiddenness is one of the essences of humility. Moses was hidden from birth. He was hidden in a small ark of reeds and pushed out on the Nile River. Later he was hidden in the wilderness for forty years herding his Father-in-law’s sheep. Of all the people in the world, this is who God chose for this assignment. Later in this wilderness, the Bible is careful to tell us, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)

Here’s the kicker: Moses turns out to be one of the most well-known people who have ever lived. It brings me to the second part of my learning here. The antithesis of hiddenness is fame. We now live in an age whose core value is fame. When people do not have a deep inner validation as a person, they clamor for adulation on the surface. It is one of the darker values of the misuse of social media: Look at me. I am somebody. We are all made for the glory of God, but short of that we will accrue all manner of glory for ourselves. And the worst permutation of this happens when people accrue glory for themselves in the name of God. It’s why “famous saint” is an oxymoron (or at least a non-sequitur).

These are such massive constructs of thought I can hardly wrap my mind around them. It is also quite fascinating to contrast the concepts of “hiddenness” and “humility” with those of “hiding” and “shame.” Hiddenness does not mean hiding. Hiddenness is the gift of God to the humble ones, who have traded in their own quest for glory for the pursuit of beholding the glory of Another.

For a long time in my life, I wanted to be famous. I believe God continues to save and deliver me from this desire. He has shown me something infinitely better than being famous. It is being known; not well-known but deeply-known. I want to be known by God and by my family and friends, (whom I consider you to be). I want to be known simply and completely, as I most truly am. And that’s how I want to know God and others. I think that’s what we all want. The thirst for fame is simply the broken longing to be known. 

“When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

This is a one of a kind event here; reserved for Moses alone. What if I told you there is a better word for us—an even richer vision?

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

We can see the face of God and live. In fact, the tables have turned. No one can really live who does not see the face of Jesus Christ. And the most marvelous thing of all is the way his face can be reflected in our very faces. Others can see him when they look at us.


Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a son, a daughter. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a saint. I abandon myself to you, that I might become who you would be if you were me. This is the mystery of a true identity– for as your word says, “For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Let it be so, Lord, for my good, for your glory, for others’ sake. In Jesus name. Amen.


What do you think about this contrast between being famous and being known? How about the connection between humility and hiddenness?


There’s still time to join the Summer Holy Spirit Book Club. It has absolutely blown up. And there is still room for more. Check it out here. 

Monday, June 1, we will dive into our first New Testament series of 2020, with Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. We are working on a special limited edition COVID-19 edition of WILDERNESS. More details about pre-order coming soon.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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