Finding your place in life can be tough. It's true for us, for the Israelites, for Moses, and even for God. In fact, the whole Book of Exodus seems to be one big struggle for different individuals and groups to find their place in a hostile world. They need to come into their own, gain power, and prove themselves to everyone around them.
Part of the job of the writers of Exodus is to impress. They want to usher up spectacular images that will wow and awe their readers. (Parting the Red Sea, anyone?) That means that, sometimes, they sacrifice believability for effect. But it's the effect that we're still talking about millennia later, so we're okay with it.
Questions About Reputation
Why does God need to prove himself? Why is he so obsessed with his reputation? Does he make his own decisions based on reputation?
How does Bible-bling, like the Ark, affect the reputation of the priests?
How does the text differentiate between personal reputation and national reputation?
What happens when reputation and life-and-death situations collide? Which factor wins out?