If Your Presence Does Not Go
The Israelites desired to be free from their oppression and cried out to God for hundreds of years. Their journey out from Egypt was characterized by worship and praises to God when things benefitted them and grumbling when God did not allow things to happen the way they wanted.
However, Moses was starkly different from these Israelites.
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’
2 And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.
3 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.”
Notice what God is telling Moses after a series of grumbling and rebelling from the Israelites. God is going to give them the Promised Land He promised their forefathers. The Promised Land that they have been waiting for decades. But, God will not go with them. If God has offered this to the Israelites, they would have gladly accepted it! It is akin to someone who has been desiring financial abundance securing a new promotion. However, all their heart’s desires will be theirs at the expense of God Himself.
Moses’ response separated him from the Israelites:
Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.
Moses would rather stay in the unwanted and uncomfortable desert with God than a land of abundance void of His presence! What a man of God! He would rather give up his heart’s desire to embrace God then to embrace what he desires and give up God. He desired the Lord more than His promised blessings. He prized intimacy with God above any treasures God could ever provide. This desire for God Himself set Him apart from the rest.
Moses and the Israelites represent two major groups within our church today; those who seek God for what He can do and those who seek Him for who He is. Perhaps it is time to pause for a moment and reflect if we are more like Moses or the Israelites.
Let us pray.
Dear Lord, forgive me for embracing the things that I desire at the expense of Your presence in my life. I confess and admit that there have been times where I desire Your gift more than You. Teach me Your ways and help me to desire You more than anything in this world. Let the world dim behind me and let all that allure me be things that please you. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.