“Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”” -Exodus 33:18-23 NIV
Intimacy with God is vital to our growth and maturity in Christ. Relationship with God is far more important than religion, programmes, Bible studies, etc. He desires to commune with us, to spend time with us every day. The more we get to know Him, the more we will want to spend time with Him in His presence. Jesus made time to spend with His Father, often slipping away in the wee hours of the morning. Men and women of God in the Old and New Testament spent time with the Lord. This morning we are going to look at Moses, a great example of what kind of relationship we can have with God.
Spending time with God on a regular basis seems to be difficult for many people. For young people it can be difficult because of demands of school, friends, and extracurricular activities. Time is hard for those who are working full time and raising a family. Even in retirement time may be hard to find because of many commitments within the church, family and community. Truth be told, we all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365-366 days a year of which we can spend time with God.
We read in Exodus 33 that Moses met with God in “the tent of meeting.” Whilst he did, the people of Israel worshipped outside of their tents. This tent of meeting was a place where God’s glory showed forth. Moses spent time with God. The Bible says he talked with God face to face. This is not in contradiction with the end of the chapter where God told Moses that he could not see God’s face and live. Face to face was a figurative expression suggesting openness and friendship. In order for this friendship to happen, Moses gave himself completely to God. The people of Israel worshipped God and God was pleased.
Moses relationship with God was very close. He had one to one conversations with the Almighty God. He was considered God’s friend. The book of Numbers even states that Moses was closer than a friend, better than even a prophet because God talked to him face to face. God trusted Moses. What an honour! We can have that same kind of relationship with God today. This relationship is not just for the elite, it is for everyone who believes that Jesus Christ is Lord. Do you want to be known as one of God’s friends? Can He trust you to do as He says or pray about what He shows you? Friendship with God is sacred and a privilege.
Moses talks with God within the tent of meeting. In their conversation Moses asks that God’s presence would go wherever they go. He wants God to be a part of every step and decision that is made. In fact, he even says in verses 15- 16: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
When we ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives, surrender everything to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, the presence of God goes with us everywhere. Before Christ came and tore the veil for us to be able to come before the Lord without having to go through the priest, the Holy Spirit came upon people. His presence was visible within the tent, the tabernacle, and the temple. His presence was not present within the hearts of everyone. Yes, He did fill people with His presence, but because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He’s given us the key to the Kingdom, the very presence of God. Think about it, the very God who raised Jesus from the dead lives within us through the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit!
Moses desired God’s will, presence and peace. Moses desired God! He saw the work of God delivering the people of Israel out of Egypt. He knew the wonders that God could perform. Yet, in all of this, Moses desired God. He longed for God to show him His glory. He could have wanted anything in the world, such as a better life in the wilderness, but Moses wanted God.
What do we want? Do we want God or do we want the things of God? God longs to be desired after. He longs for a close relationship with God. He longs to call us friend and to be able to trust us. God was pleased with Moses and said to him in verse 17- “I will also do this think you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” Moses then asked for God to show His glory. It wasn’t a selfish request, it was so Moses could know and experience God in a better way. God told Moses he could see His glory but not His face. Do you desire to see God’s glory? Do you want to feel His presence? Oh I pray that the church today will fall down to our knees and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. I pray that we will seek His face and His presence not the miracles, not the gifts, not the healings, but just God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe that God will pour out His Spirit in a mighty way if we would just seek Him!
When we spend time in intimate worship of God we will become more like Him as we become like the one whom we worship. In chapter 34 Moses goes up to meet God on the top of Mount Sinai. He obeys God by taking two stone tablets up with him. Whilst he was on the mountain, he spent time in God’s presence for 40 days and 40 nights. The Lord descended in the cloud and His presence stayed with Moses. When Moses came down from the mountain the skin of his face shone with the glory of the Lord. It was so powerful that the people did not want to come near him, so he covered his face with a veil. He did this until he went back up to the presence of God, then he would take the veil off. Moses shone like the glory of God. God’s presence was made known.
Have you ever been around someone that you knew without a shadow of doubt that the presence of God was with and in them? I have honestly known a couple of people in my lifetime like this. These people are so close to God that they shine like Him. People were not afraid of Moses, they were afraid of the power within him, the power of the presence of God.
My friends, God wants us to experience His glory. He desires us to be close to Him. He longs for us to have that intimate relationship with Him. The question is do we want it? This relationship is costly. It means that we have to put ourselves aside and surrender everything to God. It means taking time to spend it with Him instead of our own personal desires. It means putting aside our selfishness and seek His face. The challenge is to not allow busyness, fear and worry to get in the way. Let’s not be like the Israelites afraid of God’s presence. May we be willing to lay down everything and allow God to show His glory.
I promise you, when God does show His glory to us and we truly feel His presence within our lives, we will be changed. Moses’ countenance changed after His time in the presence of God. That power was around Moses, upon him and spoke to him on the top of Mount Sinai and in the tent of meetings. However, that same power can live within us today! Do we believe this? Do we want it?
What is holding us back from the presence of God? Why are we so afraid of God? Do we want God or do we just want a glimpse of Him? Do we want to have an intimate relationship with Him or just continue being a Sunday morning, open door church attender? God longs for us. Do we long for Him, just Him, not His blessings? I know my answer, do you?