spoke again this morning at Anthem
. Pretty good service, about the value of silence in the presence of God. Overall, good word. I was focused a little more on one of her base scriptures, Exodus 33:18 –
Pretty simple. Have heard many sermons about it, sermons that always seem to start there and go on with the “you can’t see my face and live”, all that. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone speak on “then and now”…
So, since there is a “then” and a “now”, I felt I needed to find out what preceded Moses’ request… why in the world would Moses ask such a weird, crazy (and as some would say, arrogant) question? After reading what proceeded it, I don’t think it is arrogant at all… I think Moses was dealing with holding on to his faith in the struggle.
This is following the golden calf incident
. The whole thing is pretty interesting, and there is a story in God telling them to “take off your ornaments” (for they had taken them off so that Aaron could make them a god…), but we won’t focus on that right now. Basically, Israel crossed the line so bad, God said, “I’m done… if I go with you, you will not survive, so I’ll make it all happen, but you won’t see me in it.” The people, and Moses included were in shock that God would abandon them like this. Even if he fulfilled His promise to take them there, if He wasn’t with them they were as good as dead.
Moses confronts God with what God had previously said to and of Moses… “you have said I know you by name and you have found favor with me”. If I have found favor with you, then let me know you… declare or reveal your ways so I can really know who you are, so I can really find that favor…
Moses wanted the favor not just in word, but in deed… he didn’t need just a promise, but he needed some real assurance that he was favored by God. Make your favor real… let me know it in the same way that you know me… let me know who I am really dealing with, and how real your favor is.
God answers, and that should be the end of it: “My presence will go, and I will give you rest”
It should have been the end of it, but Moses wasn’t satisfied with the answer… something was missing for Moses – something that had to be rectified… Moses needed to get this “favor” thing answered. Moses continues: “How can anyone know (literally, how shall it be known) that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us?
God answers again, which, again should be the end of the story: “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight and I know you by name.”
Satisfied? No… Moses goes one step further…
“Now, show me your glory.”
More literally, Make me see your glory. I know it’s here, it’s around me, it’s in your promise, but right now, I need to see it. I need to know it’s real, not just because I believe it. If I am going to be present in this, I need you to be present in it too.
Basically, “Prove it God… I am favored? demonstrate it – to me and to everyone around.” What’s more, Moses wasn’t asking for God to do something… Moses heard God saying he would do stuff, but Moses wanted to see none other than God Himself.
Tall order, for sure, but not out of arrogance… Moses was honest with God, needing Him to deal with this big crisis of faith – God said He was done. Even if he did all the things He talked about, they would have meant nothing if God Himself were not with them in it.
This reminds me of Jacob wrestling with the angel. There was a word over his life, a blessing he received from his father, but something was still amiss. Jacob felt he was headed to his own destruction… Leaving one troublesome spot in his father in law’s house to confront his brother – the same one he stole the birthright from. Jacob believed the word spoken over him, but needed it tangible in that moment. He needed something to be demonstrated that would give credence to the word he had already received.
“I will not let you go unless you bless me”
He could have said, “You’re already blessed, you know that… just stand on that”. It wouldn’t have worked though. At the moment, Jacob needed something tangible. He needed something demonstrated. God came through.
There are more examples, to be sure. I guess what I am taking from this… well, a few things:
- it’s ok to be real with God…
- it’s ok to press in for more… to get whatever is needed to substantiate your faith.
- God is ok with it, as long as it is causing us to be in deeper relationship with Him, and not just seeking things for our own pleasure or to fit our version of faith.
- like Jacob and Moses, those times where God does “prove Himself” are not where we live… Moses still had to lead the people to the promised land, and Jacob still had to face his brother. We still have to rely on God’s original and ongoing direction / promise / blessing. We still need to walk by faith, but He is faithful to ensure our faith doesn’t fail. Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32). He didn’t take Peter out of the trouble, but was there to help him navigate through it, and kept him from losing his faith when it got really bad.
All of this is encouraging to me, as I navigate through some tough times in my own life. I have seen God come through with a demonstration that He is still walking with me, still has plans to us me in my gifting, and is taking me to a favorable place of his choosing. It doesn’t mean it is easy, or that I have answers for all of it, but it does mean that I can trust His presence with me… when I fully see it, and when I don’t.
Two stories, both about not giving up, but that’s not what I want you to focus on. In each of these stories, you will see individuals at the end of their rope who received help to go on:
The football player thought he knew his limits, and he definitely knew his pain and his weakness, but it was his coach walking with him that helped him go further than he ever thought, and raised his faith to a new level. Not only his, but the faith of the entire team.
Derek Redmond was supposed to be known for winning the 400 in Barcelona. Instead, he is known for his pain as he suffered a horrible injury in the race. But as he tried to finish, look who comes to his aid… his father. The two of them finished the race together, his father walking with him and holding him up.
Sometimes… many times our faith is strongest, not because we are powerhouses of belief… it’s because we have those that come along and walk with us, whether they be friends, family, or God Himself.