I have always been captivated with the account of Moses’ relationship with God as written in the scriptures. One aspect that I found really interesting is how much he depended on God. Leading the children of Israel to the promised land with their tendency to rebel at the slightest obstacle was obviously a tedious and onerous task for Moses.
In Exodus 33, God told Moses it was time for the Israelites to move from where they had camped while he met with God on Mount Sinai. He had been away for 40 days but before he returned, the people had decided to make other gods for themselves because according to them, “We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1)
Once the rebellion had been handled, it was time to move. Moses sought assurances from God that he won’t be left alone to lead the people. He knew how difficult it was to lead them. He told God, “You have been telling me, “Lead these people,” but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, “I know you by name and you have found favour with me.” If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people” (Exodus 33:12)
This was Moses who God used to inflict the Egyptians with plagues leading to the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. He had been used of God to perform mighty acts and yet he prays, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you” As I read this I am reminded of Paul the Apostle in the New Testament as he prays, “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10)
Why would Moses pray to know God’s ways and Paul pray to know Christ? I believe it is because it is one thing to know about God and see what He can do and it is another to actually experience His presence or His ways. Moses wanted more of God. He wanted to understand what God’s will is and follow it. The children of Israel on their other hand were moved by what they saw each time but as time passed, they forgot and returned to their rebellious ways.
The same thing happens in our present world. There are many who have seen God’s acts and His ability to transform lives and situations. They get carried away by these things exhibit a zeal that is infectious. As the passage of time goes however, people begin to forget and when things don’t work out they way it used to, they become disillusioned and some get to the point where they walk away from the faith.
Moses understood more than anyone else that understanding God’s ways would keep him in tune with God’s will and therefore He could rest in the assurance that whatever challenges lay ahead will be overcome because God was with him.
Paul had been transformed by Christ. He had been empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel and perform signs and miracles. In spite of all this, he understood that he needed an intimate knowledge of Christ to drive him on.
In Exodus 33:14, God promised Moses, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest”. Note that Presence as used here is a noun. God is actually telling Moses, “I will be the one to go with you” in response to Moses’ earlier statement, “…but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.” I was really fascinated by that response. God was effectively saying, “This isn’t something I want to delegate to someone else. I want to keep you company as you continue this journey” How awesome is that?
Several times in the Psalms, David desired the presence of God. In Psalm 63:1 he prayed, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” This was the cry of a man desperate for the presence of God. No wonder God called David a man after His own heart (1 Sam 13:14)
It excites me to know that God Himself desires to be with us! The problem most times is that we are the ones who do not have time to cultivate His presence. The more we strive to know Him, the deeper our understanding of Him grows. As we grow in our understanding of Him, we are assured of who were are in Him and able to understand what His will is.
The question is, how do we cultivate God’s presence? We cannot achieve it by a few rushed words before heading out in the morning or when our eyes are drooping at night. It is making a decision to constantly tune our hearts to Him throughout the day and bringing Him into everything we do.
We also need to learn from those sought God’s presence in the scriptures; Moses, David, Paul and our Lord Jesus Christ while he walked on earth’s surface. One thing that was common with them was that they set time apart to seek God’s face.
I pray that the Lord will give us hearts desperate for him so that like David we can say, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1)