Several times this fall I have spoken on Exodus 33. On numerous occasions, I have been asked to blog about my thoughts on this interesting conversation between God and Moses. I love this passage, particularly how Eugene Peterson explains it in The Message. (I encourage you to spend a few moments reading it before you continue reading my thoughts. If you do not have a copy of The Message, you can go to Biblegateway.com and search for Exodus 33:7-13 (MSG).
There is so much in this passage that validates God’s desire to communicate intimately with His people. Obviously, Moses understood this. Verse 7 describes how Moses used to take the Tent Of Meeting and set it up outside of camp as a place to go and meet with God. In this passage, Moses then enters the tent and it is here that we are able to have a glimpse into this important conversation he had with God. There are three things I want to point out about this conversation that Moses has with God.
1. God wants face time with you.
Exodus 33:11 says, “And God to Moses face to face, as neighbors speak to one another.” Imagine such an intimate moment with God! Scripture says that the two of them spoke just as close neighbors do. This wasn’t a privilege reserved solely for Moses. It is one for you too. But it requires work on your part. Several times in the verses leading up to this conversation, we read that Moses was active in the process. He went to the tent. He set time aside to be with God. He understood that, even though he was a man of tremendous privilege, power, and position, to be a great leader he first had to be a humble follower…of God.
God wants to meet with you. He desires to talk to you, jut as you would your closest friend. But you have to do your part – take ownership – in spending time with God.
2. God wants you to be bold with Him.
Read how Moses speaks to God, “Look you tell me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in our your plans…Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.” Can you imagine? Moses was real and bold as he talked with God. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t sugar-coat his feelings. He told God exactly what he thought…and God listened.
Do you think God knew how Moses felt before Moses even shared his feelings with Him? Of course He did. He’s God! He knew the situation, but He still welcomed the conversation. Why? Because He longs for a real relationship with His people. He longs for this with you. God knows everything about you, even the situations about you that you don’t fully get or understand. He knows what you will do before you even do it. And, He wants you to bring it all to Him. Moses was completely comfortable in bringing it all to Him. Are you this comfortable with God? If not, why not give it a try? God can handle it. This story is proof of exactly that.
3. God wants the lead in your life.
After such a bold demand from Moses, God could have responded in any number of ways. He says to Moses in Exodus 33:14, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” Read what Moses says next to God in verse 15. “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now.” Moses understood there would be no success in the journey if God wasn’t the one in the lead. Of course, God knew this too. He is always in the lead, even when we think we are the ones leading. But, when you and I come to this realization, God is honored in our willingness to acknowledge His lead. And, we are more the better for it.
Giving God the lead can be one of the most challenging acts to master because it requires sacrifice. But, over time this process becomes easier. This was the case for Moses. When God first appeared to Moses on Mt. Horeb (Exodus 3) and spoke to him through a burning bush, Moses was freaked. He didn’t want to be used by God to stand before Pharaoh. He wanted God to choose someone else. He wanted to go back to shepherding for his father-in-law. But, over time, as he learned to trust God more and more, he learned what it meant to give God the lead in his life. The key: Experience. Personal experience plays a critical role in how you and I trust God. The more experience we have with Him, the more confident we become in trusting Him.
God allowed Moses access to Him in a very intimate and real way. He extends the same privilege to you. So, take ownership in your relationship with Him as you reflect on your experience with Him. If you do, I am confident that you too will see that He can be trusted with it all. And, the next time you pause to enter into your personal Tent Of Meeting, you will find, as was the case with Moses, God too is waiting to meet with you!