God reiterated His command to go to the promised land of Canaan and promised to send an angel, but He said He would NOT go with them in their midst because of the obstinate ("like unresponsive oxen or horses") people of Israel who made that golden calf.
Moses' response was to go to the "tent of meeting" (The tabernacle had not been built yet) outside the camp where The LORD would speak to Moses "face to face, just as a man would speak to his friend" (33:11).
Moses boldly interceded for the people based on this "face to face" relationship with God. He was concerned that the LORD would not go up in their midst. He wanted God's presence with them. As a result of Moses' concerned intercession, God responded with these beautiful words:
"My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." (33:14)
God responded because of Moses' appeal on the grounds that God's people needed to be distinguished from all the other people on earth. As I said yesterday, remember one of the bottom line themes in the Old Testament is that "all the peoples would know the God of Israel." This is so important to grasp.
God did what Moses asked because Moses had found favor in God's sight and He had known him by name (17). As a result of this, Moses asked to see God's glory, and God told him how to behold His veiled glory as it passed. We will see how this happens in the next chapter.
I don't know about you, but there is one thing I long for more than anything: to know God's presence and speak to Him as a friend. Intimacy with God is my heart's desire. It reminds me of my favorite verse:
One thing I have asked of the LORD that I will seek;
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to meditate in His temple (Psalm 27:4).
Don't you want that too?
One of my favorite statements by God is . . .
My presence shall go with you,
and I will give you rest
I want that 24/7/365 relationship with God. I want a moment-by-moment awareness of His presence with me. This is possible because of the Holy Spirit within us. We are now the temple of the very presence of God. Isn't that amazing?
When I stop and really consider God's presence, it makes me relax if I am worried, fretful, or just having a bad day. God's presence gives me rest. What balm to my soul.
I want to continue to cultivate a relationship with the LORD that is minute-by-minute. I want my heart to be completely His at all times. I have a long way to go, but this is my desire.
One thing that has helped me maintain closeness with the Lord has been to intentionally break away from the routine of life to go "outside the camp" much like Moses did to seek the Lord. He was a busy man with plenty of responsibility, but he took time out to seek the Lord's face. I do this by taking a regular "prayer retreat" every other month or so. I call them "My Lord and Me" times. It is a time where God has 100% of my attention. I stop the craziness of life, look full into God's face, and listen to what He has to say to me. It may seem passive, but it is a very dynamic face-to-face time with the Lord. I heartily recommend it!
Moses' intimacy with God also led him to intercession for the people God gave him to lead. I am taking notes throughout Scripture on the character and actions of the people God chooses to use. Intimacy with God and a life of intercessory prayer are key traits of a good leader. I am challenged by this. I want to be a prayer warrior for those He entrusts me to lead.
When is the last time you went "outside the camp" and sought the Lord? Can you pencil in some extended time with God for intimacy and intercession in the next month? I led a women's leadership class in 2005-2006 and most of the women commented that the scheduled half-day in prayer was the most significant thing they did the whole year! Many of those women continue to do it as a regular practice and have been very blessed.
If you need some structure, you can download this helpful handout: "How to Spend a Day in Prayer" by Lorne Sanny, former president of The Navigators. It has been a blessing to me, and I often refer back to it during my retreat days. I let the Lord lead without any structure too. It depends on the particular day of prayer.
Lord, thank You that You dwell in us. Help us to appropriate Your presence on a 24/7/365 basis. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.