It is painful to watch a close friend be in a relationship with a person who is not nearly as committed as your friend. From your perspective, this other person clearly does not have your friend’s best interest at heart. In today’s passage we discover the nature of God’s relationship with Israel—a relationship that Moses, at this particular moment, uncomfortably found himself standing in between. Yet, God’s passionate pursuit of a group of unfaithful people provides a lens through which we discover God’s true loving nature.
- What are some undeserved expressions of God’s faithfulness in your life?
READ THE WORD: EXODUS 33:12-23 (ESV)
12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For 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, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Why was Moses so insistent on not “bringing up this people” (into the Promised Land) apart from the presence of God? What reasons did he give?
- What did Moses acknowledge that distinguished Israel from the world (vs. 16), a sign of God’s favor?
- How does your life currently reflect a dependency upon the presence of God? Where are some areas in your life it can grow?
- How is the presence of God in your life setting you apart in a lost and broken world? As a spouse? As a parent? As an employee?
- Are you exclusively satisfied in the presence of God? If you were to take away all the comforts that are around you, is Jesus enough?
RESPOND TO GOD
God’s presence in our lives is a gift made available through his grace. Grace is God’s willful desire to lavish his goodness upon us in spite of our inherent disposition toward sin. Moses understood God’s grace. Furthermore, he understood that “bringing up this people” into the Promised Land apart from the presence of God would lead Israel further away from the fullness of life God’s presence provided. It is sad that as God opens the door to his presence, we often seek other means for fulfillment. It is good to know that God’s grace is always greater than our sin.
- Ask God to help you identify those areas in your life that are holding you back from entering fully into his presence.
- Thank God for how he has tangibly expressed his grace in your life.