Bible Think Tank

This site is designed to help you interact with others about God's Word. I further some thoughts we developed during morning and evening gatherings at church. I have my NT translations from the original Greek to English. Also, I have book reviews and other current events.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

God's Presence with Us - Exodus 32-34

God of Grace when We are Wicked
Last Sunday night, we talked about the God of grace, in our series, What God Is Like. We began our study looking at a conversation God had with Moses. It happens right after the people of Israel worship the golden calf at Mount Sinai. God set them free from slavery in Egypt, parted the Red Sea so that they could escape the Egyptian army, fed them and gave them water to drink in the middle of the desert, and their reaction is: "God has left us and killed Moses (neither is true) so let's make our own god that can lead us to the Promised Land."

A Divine Conversation
That is when God begins saying many new things to Moses. Reading from Exodus 32:34 "But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, My angel shall go before you." Whereas He used to say "I will lead you to a good land" now He says "you lead them" and "I'll send an angel to guide you there." Later He says in chapter 33, "if I would go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you" (v5). We begin to think that God is giving up on these people. Have you ever invested tons of time into a project and in the end, realize that it isn't going to pan out like you thought it would. Maybe a relationship that you dumped a lot of time and energy into and the two of you just couldn't fit well together. These things are common in our lives, but it seems to us that the Lord would be different. In our minds, God never starts something He can't finish and He never met a person He couldn't befriend. Now we read this passage in a careful way and the idea begins to enter our minds: "is God really that different than us?" "Is He bound to the same limitations in relationship that we are?" He concludes in 33:5 "let Me see what I am going to do with you." It is almost as if He needs to think about it for a while.

Your Presence with Us
So Moses, in his conversation with God, says "See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me" (Ex 33:12). Then he says "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?" (Ex 33:15-16). Moses wants to know how he is supposed to plug away. How could he do this huge task without God being with him.

Time for Honesty
Two things: 1) I can't do this life without God reigning in my heart and impulses and 2) every chance I get, I try to run my own life on my own terms. I have tried to make the best out of my life and screwed it up horribly. That is the whole point of salvation. We don't really need to convince people of their sin, everyone knows we are desperately needy. But now that God woke me up, cleaned me up, set me on His pathway, and guides me toward godliness: why am I so hungry to start making my own choices and not seek His choices for me? Do I think on the inside that salvation is just a way of starting over again? He fixed me and now says, "try again?" I know Biblically that that view is wrong, I know from this and every other passage in the Bible that we can't do it on our own. In my favorite cartoon show, Strong Bad created this one-legged dog character called Lil' Brudder who's catch-line is "I can do it on my own."

The Friend of God
Moses truly is the friend of God. Me, not so much. He is the first to say "if You don't go, I'm not going." We would tend to say, "thanks for not wiping us out, if You are going to bring us in with Your angel, could we, like, get a piggy-back ride, our feet are sore." We tend to think God's blessings are good enough. I don't need God's presence, all I need is His blessings. The fact is: the deeper into friendship with Him we go, the quicker our heart is to want Him. Thank God that I am not bound to remain in this state of mind. He will change my heart to want Him more than His blessings. A relationship with God is a lot like any human friendship. God has frequently portrayed His relationship with His people as a marriage relationship. Read Hosea or Ephesians 5:22-33 to see this illustration in action. So when I was first dating the woman that would later become my wife, I really liked kissing, I really liked being a boyfriend, "attached" and not "single." These are fringe benefits of the relationship, they are not the be-all of a dating relationship. Now that I am married, I see (and see more each day) that knowing this one person so closely and being one with that one person is FAR more valuable to me than the fringe benefits of the relationship.

A Closing Prayer
"LORD! Teach my heart to want You and nothing else. I don't want heaven, or mansions over the hilltop, or a Promised Land, or to be healthy wealthy and wise, or an inspiring church, or a good pastor-teacher, or manna or quail. I don't want the things that You provide, the things that surround You, the things from You. I Want You and Your presence."



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