June 09, 2011

Desperate for His Presence

Exodus 33:15-16b, "And he[Moses] said to him[God], “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us..?"
I am reading through the Old Testament in my devotions, and this passage struck me the other day as I read.  For a full background it would be good for you to stop here and go read chapters 32 and 33 of Exodus, but I'll try to give you enough context here to grasp the depth of this statement.
Following Israel's rebellion against God in the building of the golden calf for worship (in chapter 32), God tells Moses to get out of the way.  God's wrath is burning hot against the nation of Israel, and He is going to wipe them out to punish their rebellion and start over with Moses.  But Moses pleads for His people, reasoning with God-to which God responds in mercy and relents from His wrath.  However, as we move in chapter 33 we see God is still not happy with these people, whom He refers to as "stiff-necked."  In fact we see as the story builds, that God tells Moses that He will send an angel ahead into the Promised Land to clear it out, and that Moses is to take them in-without the presence of God.  Why?  "Lest I consume you along the way."  God basically tells them that if He dwells in their presence any longer He will be driven to kill them because of their constant, stubborn rebellion. 
And what is Moses' response?  Does he say, "okay God, thanks for clearing the place out." ?  No, he pleads with God to the point where he straight up says that he doesn't want to be going anywhere without God.  "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here."  Moses longs to to be in God's presence so much that he is willing to sit in the desert, to forgoe the Promised Land if going there would mean losing God.  He didn't desire God for the cool stuff He gives, like a land flowing with milk and honey (insert here anything that you prefer over God-pleasure, money, sports, tv, school...the desire for an easy life) but rather, he wants God because he knows God alone satisfies.  Man is created for relationship with God, and our sin destroys that relationship.  Moses understands this and pleads with God not to remove His presence from His people.  Do we pray like that?  Do we have such a longing for God that we are willing to give up things that we have longed for in order to see our relationship with Him grow?  Do we pray prayers for ourselves and others that we would see the beauty and majesty of God, that we would be satisfied in Him-and Him alone?  This is what we need.  We don't need "our best life now."  We don't need "heaven" in some abstract, floating on clouds strumming a hapr sense.  We don't need a land flowing with milk and honey, a better job, or an easy life.  We need Jesus.  Jesus Himself said in John 17:24, "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world."  Jesus prays what for us?  That we might be with Him and see His glory.  He is all we need.

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com