I was really blessed when I heard this preached at the recent LoveSingapore Pastors’ Summit 2011.
In Exodus 33, God told Moses to bring the Israelites into the land. As He has promised, He will drive the enemies out and give Israel the land. But God Himself will not be in their midst (v3).
This point hit me hard. I can seemingly have the breakthroughs and victories in my life and still not have God! I can have what appears to be a successful and active ministry and still not have God! I can have all the promises and blessings and still not have God!
I never saw this so clearly before. But Moses understood it perfectly. That’s why in Exod 33:15, he said to the Lord, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” The key is found one verse before, in v14, when God said to Moses, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Read that again! And don’t miss the connection between God’s Presence and His Rest! Think about this … Moses was willing to forego the Promised Land if God did not go with him. He knew that blessings without God would be meaningless. He’d rather remain in the wilderness where he had the presence of God, than receive the promises apart from God! In today’s terms, it would be like saying, “Lord, don’t heal me … don’t give me that raise … don’t grant me the job I’ve been asking for … don’t bless me with a bigger house … if it means my relationship with You will be affected.” Can you imagine saying that at all?!
The scenario changes in the New Testament but the principle remains the same. Through the person of Jesus Christ, we have God with us, Immanuel (Matt 1:23). God’s Presence is there for us if we would choose to run boldly into His arms through the living way made possible by Jesus. In His Presence, we find love, peace, assurance, comfort, joy, hope. That’s the rest that the Lord promises; the rest that so many desire to have, but so few experience. It’s found in relationship and communion with Him, in His Presence.
But sadly, and I am often guilty of this too, many prefer the presence of His promises more than the promise of His Presence. Or even worse, to think we are in His Presence just because we are blessed materially or successful in ministry. Oh, may I have the heart of Moses, the one who spoke to God face-to-face, the one who was willing to give up everything just to be in His Presence. Oh, may I be like Mary, the one who chose the better part of sitting at the feet of Jesus, the one who was willing to tarry than be caught up in the hurry and flurry.
The promise of His Presence is there for me, as it is for you. By God’s grace, we no longer have to ask for it as Moses did. But perhaps we have taken all that for granted and totally missed the significance, Jesus said in Matt 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Will we run into His Presence? Will we enter His rest?