Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people (Exo. 33:3).
Moses has spent the last forty years doing something that he didn’t want to do. In Exodus chapters three and four, God selects Moses as the leader of the Israelites. He would bring them out of Egyptian bondage and lead them to the promised land. Moses resisted at first, offering one excuse after another. Ultimately, he went.
Forty years later, Moses is still leading these people. Moses has been up on Mount Sinai, per God’s request, receiving the Ten Commandments. While he’s up on the mountain, the Israelites, down below, begin to wonder whether Moses will ever return. They melt their jewelry and fashion a golden calf that they worship. When Moses returns and sees what they’ve done, he’s infuriated. How could they have abandoned God so quickly?! What happens next is absolutely chilling.
God tells Moses that He will keep His promise to give the promised land to the Israelites. He will drive out the enemies – all exactly as He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, God said that He would not go with them. He would send His angel, but He wouldn’t go Himself.
This news greatly troubled Moses. Longing to be close to God, Moses moves his tent outside the camp. If the people were stubborn to God’s ways, then Moses would distance himself from them. Moses wants God, not just God’s blessings. So Moses moves to God. The Bible says that “the LORD spoke to Mose face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exo. 33:11). This is figurative language that communicates to us that Moses had an intimate relationship with God.
Then, Moses said something incredible. He said to God, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exo. 33:15). Moses says that he would rather stay in the wilderness homeless with God than to go into the promised land without God. Amazing!
Let’s wrap it up: Yesterday, we noted that the pure in heart will see God. How badly do you want to see God? What are you willing to give up or to do in order to be sure that you will one day see Him?
Sometimes I look at the Israelites and I wonder how they could be so foolish to worship an idol that they had crafted right before their eyes. Yet, sometimes I allow things to become improperly prioritized ahead of God’s kingdom and His righteousness. God doesn’t live among wickedness. Am I willing to move to Him? Am I willing to be different, to stand out, for the sake of being pure in heart and in life?
This is a partial transcript from my weekday podcast, The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ created in each of us as Christians. A new episode is available each Monday through Friday on The Light Network. Click here to see all of the episodes.