In Exodus chapter 32, the people made a golden calf and God was about to destroy them except for the fact that Moses interceded for them. Think about it! One man interceded for a nation and God responded. To me this is an incredible lesson about intercessory prayer. But this is not what I want to concentrate upon. I want to move on to Exodus chapter 33, where I find the secrets behind Moses incredible relationship with the LORD God Jehovah.
Favor is something done or granted out of goodwill. Moses knew that the Lord God of Israel was a limitless God and He could supply unlimited favor. Moses did not want to stop there. He was not satisfied with just unlimited favor. Moses sought diligently for God’s ultimate favor. Moses knew that, ultimately, God’s favor wasn’t found in the blessings He provided—–>they were found in knowing the Lord Himself!
Now let’s go one step further and put the Lord’s presence and glory into perspective. Moses not only wanted to have the Lord’s continued presence demonstrated to the people, he wanted much much more in the fact of experiencing the Lord’s glory himself. Moses knew that the power to lead the Israelites was in the Lord’s presence, but he also knew there was something to seek way beyond that. He recognized the fact that the power to fuel his own spirit was in the Lord’s glory. This was the hunger that his heart was desperate for:
One day Moses said to the Lord , “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But You haven’t told me whom You will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ If it is true that You look favorably on me, let me know Your ways so I may understand You more fully and continue to enjoy Your favor. And remember that this nation is Your very own people.” The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” Then Moses said, “If You don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that You look favorably on me—on me and on Your people—if You don’t go with us? For Your presence among us sets Your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for you have found favor with Me, and you are My friend.” Moses responded, “Then show me Your glory (glorious presence).” The Lord replied, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at My face, for no one may see Me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near Me on this rock. As My glory (glorious presence) passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen.” (Exodus 33:12-23 NLT)
Now I want to move on to Exodus chapter 34 where we find the additional ingredient of obedience:
The Lord replied, “Listen, I am making a covenant with you in the presence of all your people. I will perform miracles that have never been performed anywhere in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people around you will see the power of the Lord —the awesome power I will display for you. But listen carefully to everything I command you today. Then I will go ahead of you and drive out the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. (Exodus 34:10-11 NLT)
So Moses came down the mountain the second time. He was promised the Lord’s continued presence, but now he had experienced the Lord’s glory on top of it. He was radiant because of it. All he had to do was walk in obedience:
When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. (Exodus 34:29 NLT)
As time passed, it was with obedience where Moses hit a stumbling block. In the end, it kept him from entering the promised land. In Numbers chapter 20, Moses was instructed to only speak to the rock to get water from it. Instead he struck the rock two times in anger because of the Israelites’ grumblings. On a previous occasion, Exodus chapter 17, he had already struck the rock with a single blow as commanded. The Lord did not want the rock struck this second time because it was a symbol of Jesus Christ and He would only allow Jesus to be stricken once (Hebrews 6:4-6). In fulfillment, Jesus was only crucified once for all (Romans 6:10):
I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1, 3-4 NLT)
Moses accepted the consequences of striking the Rock again in disobedience (Numbers 20:12). It reminded him that the presence of the Lord was not nearly enough for his life. Look what Jesus teaches in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father (obedience) who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name (the presence)?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you (the glory); depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
Fifteen hundred years before Jesus, Moses had recognized the fact that you could have the presence of God in your life and still go to Hell.
If the fragmented Christian Church today would yearn ceaselessly for the Lord’s glory, be absolutely desperate for lost souls, and walk in total obedience—–>we would be a unified body of believers, just like the early Christian Church was when it started off. Not only that—–>the Lord’s presence would be overwhelming in manifestations. Instead, the lust after signs and manifestations is thrust to the forefront today. It’s like putting the cart before the horse. An experience with Jesus Christ is emphasized, rather than a true relationship that is cemented for eternity. So remember what Jesus said about those who’s emphasis is on signs in Matthew 12:39 and Matthew 16:4.
So my friends, do you have an unquenchable desire to understand the Lord more fully as Moses did in Exodus 33:13. Are you devouring the Word of God, the Bible? Are you hungering for God’s glory as you spend time with Him in your prayer closet? Are you anticipating His presence to manifest itself in your life as a result of it, not a means of it by itself? Are you walking in obedience to protect your relationship with the Lord?
Check for yourself. You will find many Bible teachers who talk about God’s presence and having an experience with Him, but you will find very few that talk about the most important ingredient of all that binds it all together, which is obedience that is driven by a healthy fear of the Lord!
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV)