Remember that first day that you lived in your own home, away from the bedroom you occupied in your parent’s home? What a day of new found freedom, right? You revel in no one else telling what to do or where to be or who to report back to about your schedule—until you work for a living to earn that place you can call your own. We learn quickly, in the first ten minutes, that with freedom comes responsibilities. We realize at some point, we must clean up our own messes that we make. We rearrange our own furniture, vacuum, mop, scrub toilets, cook and wash dishes afterward—or not. The results of living on our own, doing what we want will soon show the growth of our character and the motivation of our heart. Living free will reflect who you really are when unsupervised.
God’s Chosen were left unattended by Moses, God’s appointed leader, for forty days and nights so God could teach him what to teach His People. Here is the situation. God’s People have a new found freedom from slavery—from harsh overseers constantly telling them what to do and when to do it under challenging, impossible at times, circumstances. With this new found freedom in the wilderness, with not much to do, the sin of arrogance sets in with a side dish of stubbornness. God has done everything to save them. His People respond with childish behaviors.
God’s heart is broken and anger sets in, not for God’s sake but for the sake of His People! He wants His best for them. They seek only what they want that will lead to less than what God has in store for them. They are missing out on what God wants for them—this is where the anger of God comes from when human stubbornness and arrogance seeps into the hearts of His People. God’s anger is different than our anger. We get angry because we selfishly don’t get our way. God gets angry because He knows what we will be missing by walking away from His love, care, provision and protection—in other words—His best for us.
God tells Moses he cannot be where sin is. He cannot be with people who arrogantly oppose him and stubbornly turn deaf ears from His message of love, rescue, and protection.
Exodus 33, The Message
1-3 God said to Moses: “Now go. Get on your way from here, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt. Head for the land which I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel ahead of you and I’ll drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. It’s a land flowing with milk and honey. But I won’t be with you in person—you’re such a stubborn, hard-headed people!—lest I destroy you on the journey.”
4 When the people heard this harsh verdict, they were plunged into gloom and wore long faces. No one put on jewelry.
5-6 God said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You’re one hard-headed people. I couldn’t stand being with you for even a moment—I’d destroy you. So take off all your jewelry until I figure out what to do with you.’” So the Israelites stripped themselves of their jewelry from Mount Horeb on.
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7-10 Moses used to take the Tent and set it up outside the camp, some distance away. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who sought God would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. It went like this: When Moses would go to the Tent, all the people would stand at attention; each man would take his position at the entrance to his tent with his eyes on Moses until he entered the Tent; whenever Moses entered the Tent, the Pillar of Cloud descended to the entrance to the Tent and God spoke with Moses. All the people would see the Pillar of Cloud at the entrance to the Tent, stand at attention, and then bow down in worship, each man at the entrance to his tent.
11 And God spoke with Moses face-to-face, as neighbors speak to one another. When he would return to the camp, his attendant, the young man Joshua, stayed—he didn’t leave the Tent.
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12-13 Moses said to God, “Look, you tell me, ‘Lead this people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.”
14 God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”
15-16 Moses said, “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you’re with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we’re special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?”
17 God said to Moses: “All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name.”
18 Moses said, “Please. Let me see your Glory.”
19 God said, “I will make my Goodness pass right in front of you; I’ll call out the name, God, right before you. I’ll treat well whomever I want to treat well and I’ll be kind to whomever I want to be kind.”
20 God continued, “But you may not see my face. No one can see me and live.”
21-23 God said, “Look, here is a place right beside me. Put yourself on this rock. When my Glory passes by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll take my hand away and you’ll see my back. But you won’t see my face.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
The thing that distinguished Israel from the other nations was that their God was present with them, and that’s what Moses requested. His heart must have leaped for joy when he heard God promise to accompany the people and lead them to the place of rest that He had promised.
Moses was called of God to be the Advocate for His People. It pleased God that Moses came before him to plead their case, asking for God’s continued Presence with His People.
Today, Jesus is our Advocate to the Father, God. Upon believing in Jesus, repenting of our sins, we are to live as redeemed people, God’s children, but with new responsibilities. We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors (representatives) to the lost in need of a Savior. In this role, we also have the privilege, coupled with hearts’ desires, to come to the Lord on behalf of others, pleading their case, until they come to Jesus for forgiveness and help on their own.
Paul explains this role as “reconcilers” like this:
“…God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NLT
Paul knowing his own stubbornness, pride and arrogance before God got a hold of him through Jesus Christ, His Son, also teaches believers how to think in new ways as a representative of Jesus. Before explaining our responsibilities as reconcilers, he writes:
“Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:11-17, NLT
God gives, it is up to us to receive His gift. To God be the glory!
God revealed His glory to Moses. The true servant of God is concerned more about the glory of God than about anything else. Moses and the Israelites had seen God’s glory in the pillar of cloud and fire, as well as in the “storm” on Mount Sinai, but Moses wanted to see the intimate glory of God revealed to him personally. God did give Moses a guarded glimpse of His glory and he was satisfied.
When we, as God’s servants are discouraged and disappointed because of the sins of people, the best remedy for a broken heart is a new vision of the glory of God. God loves showing us His glory in all things of this life as he prepares us for eternal living with Him. It is up to us to pray and open our eyes with minds fixed on Him. His glory will be felt, seen, heard with overwhelming love, mercy and grace. Look up, see it for yourselves. God’s glory is there for the asking!
Thank you for reminding us that stubbornness and arrogance have no place in living in Your Presence. Forgive us when we think we know more than you. Yikes. May all we think, say and do today be pleasing to you, for your glory.
In Jesus Name, Amen