Exodus 33:7-11 My Presence Will Go with You: Meeting with the LORD
We will continue with our focus for the month which is preparing us for a new year.
à “My Presence Will Go with You”
We enter the Scripture where we left off from last week and we find a physical confirmation that God’s presence had been withdrawn from among the people. Drastic sin had caused drastic measures from the LORD. We want to learn from the Scripture the importance of God’s presence among us as we move ahead together.
READ SCRIPTURE- This is the Word of God
Section 1: Outside the Camp
A. Moses moved his own tent outside the camp to symbolize God’s withdrawal.
a. The tent wasn’t simply off to the side, b/c the Scripture says it was FAR from them.
b. God’s presence was once with the people, leading them out of Egypt, but now He was not in their midst.
c. Remember from last week’s text that God had told the people to take off their ornaments so that He may know what to do with them.
d. Although the people had repented of what they had done (we know this because they took off their ornaments) there was still a period of time that elapsed before God would come back into their midst.
B. “Sought the LORD”
a. This means those who inquired of the LORD.
b. Anyone who wanted to find spiritual guidance was forced outside the camp.
c. Guidance from the LORD was not convenient in any way.
d. Sin is always an alienating force from the presence of God. Isaiah told the people during his day “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you.”
e. They could only worship from a distance.
C. Rebellion to Reverence
a. The removal of God’s presence was a drastic reminder to the people.
b. They had been led into the wilderness by the miraculous hand of an Almighty God, but now, because of their transgressions, they were obviously aware of the potential risk of losing the presence of their God. This caused the people to quickly move from rebellion to reverence because, as God Himself said through Hosea, “Woe to them when I depart from them!”
c. One day they are fashioning their own god to worship and another day they are wanting to worship Yahweh and can only do so from a distance.
d. They would all stand at their doors and watch Moses make the trek out of the camp and into the tent of meeting. They would watch until he was inside.
D. Purpose of the Separation
a. Surely the people were saying what the psalmist said, “O Lord, do not be far from me” but this was real separation that was evidenced in a physical manner.
b. God ordained a separation from the people and a time that would need to pass.
c. He also provided an opportunity for Moses to make intercession in behalf of the people. Ofcourse, God’s grace is superior to anything that Moses did.
d. God raised up Moses to do and say these very things. God, in His sovereignty, prepared Moses to be the intercessor for the people.
E. Just and Justifier
a. God wanted to give the people grace, but He also was required to be just in the situation. They had sinned and there had to be something done as a result for God to be just in forgiving them.
b. Romans 3:26 teaches us that He is both just and justifier.
c. God raised up Moses to intercede for the people- that made Him Just
d. God forgave the people because of the intercession- that made Him Justifier
Connective: Although God’s presence had been withdrawn from the people, His miraculous presence was still manifest in their sight. The LORD would descend in a pillar of cloud and speak with Moses.
Section 2: Pillar of Cloud
A. Meeting with the LORD
a. When Moses would go into the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend.
b. Israel and God had, at the very least, a strained relationship, yet Moses was very intimate with God. The Scripture says that Moses and God talked face to face like friends. In relation to that, verse nine seems to demonstrate that although Moses was in close proximity to God, he also had a sense of separation because it reads “the cloud stood at the door.” It never says that the cloud went in the tent.
B. It should be said first that this is a singular pillar that had two expressions- cloud/fire
a. Exodus 14:24- fire and cloud equated
b. The Bible makes a clear distinction between seeing God’s unveiled glory and seeing a representation of His choosing. In this area of Scripture we read about two representations of God’s presence- Angel of the LORD and pillar of fire/cloud (one calls a glory cloud).
c. We remember that when God brought the people out of Egypt He led them by this glory cloud. (Exodus 13:21 The LORD went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night).
C. Significance of the Cloud
a. Exodus 24:15-16 Cloud covered the mountain, the glory of the LORD rested
b. Exodus 16:10 The glory of the LORD was in the cloud
c. Psalm 105:39 tells us that the cloud was for covering and the fire for light
d. It has also been noted that it was an ancient custom to carry a burning light at the head of a marching army or caravan to indicate the line of march.
*God’s glory was in this cloud and the people quickly equated the cloud with the LORD’s presence. The point is that this miraculous manifestation of God’s glory was “outside the camp” and “far off.” The people were separated from the only one they could rely on, especially in the wilderness.
It took sin and God withdrawing His presence for the people to truly worship. Let this be a lesson for us that we should continually worship the LORD and seek His presence at all times. It was God’s intention that these people would be miraculously taken out of the land of slavery and go to a land to worship Yahweh.
Exodus 3:18 “Let us go to sacrifice to the LORD our God” à Exodus 5:1 “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus says the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.” à Exodus 7:16 “And you shall say to him, The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness.” à Exodus 8:1 “Thus says the LORD, Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” à The same in Exodus 8:20 à The same in Exodus 9:1 à Exodus 10:9 “for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.”
Let us worship God at all times not only after forgiveness for we have all been forgiven in Christ Jesus. A fitting Scripture is Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
I want to make a final point on this tent that Moses had set up.
1. Outside the camp and far off
2. Temporary- the people didn’t know if God would go with them
3. Not continuously occupied by God