“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?” (Ex. 33:16). Moses knew that God’s presence among his people set them apart. God was with them. In the Old Testament, God’s withness was seen in his glory and his appearance among the people. In the New Testament, the fullness of God was present in Jesus: “[he] became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The writer of Hebrews confidently reminded us of God’s promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). What a beautiful and amazing thread throughout the Scriptures that God is with us.
- In what ways have you been tempted to doubt God’s active and continual presence in your life?
READ THE WORD: EXODUS 40:34-38 (ESV)
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- How was God’s presence manifested to his people?
- Notice where the word cloud is paired with glory. What connection can you make between the two?
- What do you learn about the character of God in this passage?
- How is God’s presence and character manifested to us on this side of the cross, meaning after Christ’s death and resurrection?
- How is God’s withness a comfort to you? What difference does it make to know that he is always there?
RESPOND TO GOD
Faithfully, powerfully, and in glory, God was leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. Expressed uniquely throughout the ages, God’s withness has always been—from clouds and fire to Jesus walking the earth. Today, the Holy Spirit is God’s primary manifestation of his presence. As believers, our bodies are his temple (1 Cor. 6:19). Not only does the Spirit live within us, but he empowers us, leads us, comforts us, and sanctifies us. Draw strength that he is always active in our lives; take courage that he is always present. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
- In faith, praise and thank God for his withness: that he will never leave you nor forsake you.