|Exodus 32 (NKJV™)|
|30||Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin."|
|31||Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold!|
|32||"Yet now, if You will forgive their sin--but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."|
|33||And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.|
|34||"Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin."|
|35||So the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.|
|Exodus 33 (NKJV™)|
|1||Then the LORD said to Moses, "Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your descendants I will give it.'|
|2||"And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.|
|3||"Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people."|
|4||And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.|
|5||For the LORD had said to Moses, "Say to the children of Israel, 'You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.'"|
|6||So the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Horeb.|
|7||Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.|
|8||So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle.|
|9||And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.|
|10||All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door.|
|11||So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.|
|12||Then 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 grace in My sight.'|
|13||"Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people."|
|14||And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."|
|15||Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.|
|16||"For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth."|
|17||So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name."|
|18||And he said, "Please, show me Your glory."|
|19||Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."|
|20||But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live."|
|21||And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.|
|22||"So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.|
|23||"Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
As Moses stood on Mt. Sinai receiving a revelation from God, the people in the valley engaged in revelry and pagan worship. In the aftermath of their sin, we peek into Moses' prayer life: his intercession for the people and his hunger for the Lord.
Beginning in the brickyards of Egypt and ending in the tabernacle filled with God's presence, the book of Exodus chronicles the deliverance of God's people from Egypt and records the end of their oppression under Pharaoh. It also provides an account of the beginning of a prophecy fulfilled: God promised Abraham descendants beyond number, and on the pages of Exodus we see Israel become a great nation.
In this verse-by-verse study, Pastor Skip Heitzig presents an in-depth look at Moses, the ten plagues, the ten commandments, the desert wanderings, the construction of the tabernacle, and more. As we study, we'll see the grace of God, witness the glory of the Lord, and a catch a glimpse of Israel's coming Savior.
Visit expoundabq.org for more information on this series.
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Keywords: prayer, repentance
Our Lord, we thank you for that rain. We thank you for that water, how our land needs it, how our souls, our very spirits need to be watered, refreshed by your word, as Paul wrote in Ephesians, the washing of water by the word. Wash us tonight Lord. Rain down upon us, thunder in our midst. Speak to our spirits. May your Holy Spirit bring your truth home to our hearts, our lives or do you know exactly what we have been dealing with privately, in our families, in our businesses. You know about our finances. You know about our health. You know about our relatives. You know our anxieties. As David prayed, Lord, search me, know me, lead me in the way everlasting. In Jesus' name, Amen.
How many of you prayed for rain? Good. Now, I'm not going to ask you to raise your hands, but if you prayed for rain, I wonder how many of you brought umbrellas? Very good. Because after all if you expect God's going to answer your prayers, you pray for rain and grab the umbrella. Turn in your Bibles tonight to Exodus Chapter 32. You can see as you turn there that Chapter 33 only has 23 verses and we were almost done with Chapter 32 just a couple verses shy. So we've got like 25, 26 verses total. It's easy to get through 32 and why do you laugh at me like that? It's because you know me. If by faith, it's easy to get through all of Chapter 33 tonight and take the Lord suffer together and see how it segues.
Now when you were young, I wonder if you were like me. I was taught a prayer when I was a little kid and I know that some people it sounds schmaltzy. But for me it's just -- it was a memory. Now I lay me down to sleep. Anybody ever thought that prayer here as kids? Okay, like a lot of us were. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to the Lord my soul to keep. It's a good way to start but hopefully, you've graduated from that prayer. And your prayers are a little deeper than that and filled with more meaning and perhaps even more than just praying for yourself, you actually pray for other people. There's intercession involved, not just personal petition.
As we look here into this prayer of Moses at the end of Chapter 32, one of the things that strikes us is how much Moses has grown in his relationship with the Lord, in his relationship with his people and his prayer life. I want you to just think back and remember. Some of the earlier prayers of Moses when God first commissioned him and the Lord told Moses that he was going to be the one to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt with God's strong hand that Moses was going to be the ambassador. And if you remember, Moses' prayers weren't any better than, "Now I lay me down to sleep I pray to Lord my soul to keep", for he said, "Lord, what if they won't listen to me and what if pharaoh doesn't like me? And Lord, send somebody else please." Several excuses and he didn't want to do it. "Send someone else."
Now, we get a window into his heart and we see how much Moses has grown. Instead of send somebody else knowing that he is the one that the Lord has sent, he will pray, intercede on behalf of his people. And I just want to bring to your mind what it says in the book of Hebrews concerning Moses. At this point, I think it fits more than ever before. It says, "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God then to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin." He's in the thick of it, he's enduring the affliction even now.
It was a choice that he made and it's a choice he makes again even though you know what has happened. We read it last week while Moses was up on the mountain and didn't come down for a period of 40 days while he was receiving revelation from God, the people down below were engaged in revelry partying, Pagan worship. They had made a golden calf. And even Aaron got caught up in this adultery.
And when Moses came down and confronted Aaron with it, he goes, "Look Moses, it was really weird but I collected the earrings, threw it in the fire and out walked to this cow. Dude it was amazing. You had too been there." A lame excuse, Moses was angry, broke the tablets of the law. Confronted Aaron ground up the golden calf, made the people drink water with the dust of the burnings of the golden calf. As if to say, "This should make you sick to your stomach." Idolatry should make you sick. It's a very, very powerful message.
Then again if you remember, God made Moses the same deal he made Abraham. He said, "Abraham, I'm going to make out of you a great nation." And it's as if God said to Moses, "Moses, I'm going to give you the same deal. I'm just going to wipe everyone out, start from scratch with you and I'll make a great nation out of you." And Moses has grown so much in his prayer life and his relationship with God and his love for the people. Down in Verse 30 of Chapter 32, it came to pass. "On the next day that Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sins so I will go up to the Lord. Perhaps, I can make atonement." Literally if you remember a covering for your sin," and then Moses return to the Lord and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin and that made for themselves a god of gold, yet now if you will forgive their sin but if not I pray, blot me out of your book which you have written."
We stopped there last week and we asked the question, wait a minute, is it possible to be blotted out of God's book? What is this mean exactly? This puzzles us. This is a conundrum to us because I thought once we're written in the Lamb's Book of Life, you can't have that erased. Well you're right. I believe you can't. I believe that once you're written into the Lamb's Book of Life it's not like God looks years later and go, "Man you know what, you're just not really cut in the Christian life I think. I'm just going to raise your name." So what book is Moses referring to? He's referring to the record of the people of Israel. Remember God told then, "You're going to take a census, a record of living people."
All the people who are alive would e the ones recorded in the census, a record of those we were alive of the people of Israel. As a cross reference in Psalm 69, the Psalm speaks of the book of the living, the book of the living. So you might put it this way, when you die physically, your name is taken out of the book of the living. You're no longer living in this realm on this earth. But the book of the living or the book that Moses refers to here probably the record, the census that would be taken of the living Israelites is vastly different from what is mentioned in Revelation called the Lamb's Book of Life.
When you're in that book, it's not like God says, "Okay, well you're right. I'm just going to erase your name." You're in it and I believe you're in it permanently and your name won't be erased. So this is the record the census of the people of Israel that God told Moses he was going to take when he got down from the mountain, but what a prayer? What a change in Moses life? At one time, saying, "Lord send somebody else," to now saying, "Lord, forgive their sin. And if you won't forgive their sin, you're going to kill them then you might as well kill me too because I'm so identify with my people. I have chosen to suffer affliction with the people of God."
You don't have to turn to it, I marked it. I want to read it to you. This sounds very similar to what Paul wrote but Paul was even more profound when in Romans Chapter 9, he said, "I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart for I could wish that I myself were a curse from Christ, from my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh."
Speaking of the Israelites like Moses who identified with his people. Paul was once a blind Pharisee. He knew what it felt like to be blinded as a Jewish Pharisee caught up and trying to keep the law. And his heart was grieved that his people wouldn't receive the Messiah in identifying with them he announces this. Back in Exodus 32, the Lord responds in the 33rd Verse. The Lord said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book." In other words, "Moses let me tell you something, when I deal with people sin, I deal with them individually and personally. I don't make you atone for their sin. Every person is responsible before God for his own deal, for his own life." So he announces a principle that God deals personally and individually. Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out his name out of my book.
Now therefore go and leave the people to the place which I have spoken to you. So Moses intercession has worked, he's prayed for the people, he prays that God would lead them to that place. Behold my angel, my messenger. We've spent a lot of time in Exodus touching on that, speaking of that. So go before you, nevertheless in the day when I visit for punishment. I will visit punishment upon them for their sin so the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made. So you see, two things are at play, God's grace and God's government.
In God's grace, he forgave their sin. In God's government, he punishes their sin or he chastens them, that's the better word, that's the New Testament word. Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines. So in grace, God forgives their sin, in government God disciplines their deeds. He says, "There's going to be a payment. There's going to be a reckoning." And it says that God made it. How he did it, we're not told.
Now think back before we get into this next chapter. And again, it's a short chapter, don't worry. Last week we discovered that man in general has a real problem dealing with an invisible God. How do you have a personal relationship when the person you're relating to, you can never see? It's difficult. That is why people have been throughout history driven to make icons, images, idols, something to look at, something to relate to. And we begin last week's study where I said, "Finish the sentence in your own mind. I picture God as..." I want to get hack to that in closing this chapter.
And I want to answer that for myself, I picture God as... and I'll answer that by saying, "I don't picture God at all." I have no image in my mind when I pray. That's what God is like and I'm picturing right now that he looks like this and I can see that wispy hair. I don't do that because of this principle and of the New Testament principle, we walk by faith and not by sight. They were driven to cast an image that would remind them of God's strength so they carved out of wood and overlaid with gold a bull, because in Egypt, Apis, the bull god was the symbol of strength. That was an attribute that they wanted to depict Yahweh as God who is mighty and God who is strong.
So here's the big deal, here's the bottom line, here's the main issue. The main issue isn't that you can or can't see God, so what? Why I can't see God, so? The most important point is that God can see you. David said, "Where can I go from your presence? Where can I plea from your spirit? If I go to heaven you're there. If I make my bed in hell, you're there. If I take and go to outermost part of the sea, behold even there, your spirit will guide me. Even there your hand will direct me." You can't escape God. God is everywhere and God sees me.
Years ago on television, there was a televised live circus act. I think it was a weekly program. You could see the circus live on television from some spot.
As part of the act, there was a Bengal tiger performance where there was a cage in the middle of the circus ring, middle of the floor, A large cage several tigers inside. The trainer would go in, in the middle of the act. The lights would flash onto the cage. The door would lock behind him and he would put the tigers through their paces.
One evening in the middle of the television show, in the middle of the program as it was being filmed, all of the lights went out, a power failure for the stage lighting. So it went out when the trainer had gone to the door and it locked behind him and all those tigers where inside and the door went --. And for 20 to 30 long, agonizingly long seconds, the trainer was in there, he didn't move. He couldn't see those tigers but he knew they could see him. They were cats. They can see in the dark. No problem, they could see him, their eyes were on him.
And then the lights went on eventually and he finished the performance and put those tigers to their paces. No matter where you go, no matter where you hang, no matter what company you hang out with, not the tiger but the lion of the tribe of Judah can see. He sees whether you see or feel or experience at that moment him or not isn't the biggest issue, he sees you. He knows all about you. Just like at the beginning part of this book, God said, "I have seen their reflection, I have heard their cries and I am come down to deliver."
Now Verse 1, then the Lord said to Moses, "Depart and go up from here. You and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob saying to your descendants, I will giveth and I will send my angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the termite, no, and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites." Six nations are mentioned. Six ethnic groups that comprise the Canaanite civilization in the land of Canaan also to be known as the State of Israel later on, the land of Israel that God gave to them.
"Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey," just hold on to that term at another study, I'll explain that, that term to you, it's a great history behind that. "For I will not go up in your myths, notice that, I will not go up in your midst lest I consume you on the way for you are a stiff-necked people," ouch! I just mentioned something and I want to tie this thought together. At the beginning part of this book, I think it was Chapter 3, the Lord noticed something about the people of Israel. He noticed that they were afflicted. I have seen their reflection. I know their sorrows. I've heard their cries. Now God notices something else about them. They are recalcitrant. They are stiff-necked. They are stubborn. They've dig their hills in.
What changed, it's the same group of people? It's the same God. I would say that their heart toward God has changed. Their heart toward God, they were, "God please deliver us. We'll serve you." And then they said to Moses, "Moses, go up on the mountain, man. There's a lot of smoke and lightning stuff going on. We don't want to go but just find out what God wants and we'll do everything, everything, everything." They said it a few times, that's why I said it three times.
Moses didn't even get down the mountain and they're already worshiping a golden calf. So God says, "You know what, I did notice that they were afflicted and in my grace, I delivered them. But I also noticed they're stiff-necked, stubborn rebellious people." And so God will act and discipline toward them, same principle that we saw previously. And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned a very strong Hebrew word, it means to mourn when somebody you love dies it's that kind of mourning. It's a deep-seeded grief. The people heard thus they mourn, this is good and no one put on his ornaments. Ornaments were not just earrings and jewelry, they were pagan ornaments. They got them from Egypt. They were worshiping a golden calf. They engaged in a worship of Yahweh that was not what God wanted, it was resembling pagan culture. Those were the kind of earrings associated with it.
They mourned. No one put on his ornaments for the Lord had said to Moses, "Say to the children of Israel you are a stiff-necked people. I could come in to your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments that I may know what to do to you." So the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mt. Horeb.
They took off the accouterments of false worship and they stood humble before the Lord. I mentioned this is a good thing. This is actually the first indication that there's contrition of heart that they're sorry for what they have done. They realized now how bad this idolatry was and the idea of mourning as if somebody died. That relationship of intimacy that they created had died. And now the relationship looked like it was going to turn a little bit. Was it going to be like what they anticipated? And so they mourned.
Now, God told Moses not only Moses these are stiff-necked people but I have a message I want you to tell them. Tell them that they are a stiff-necked people. That would be a hard sermon to preach. Sometimes, preachers are sent by God to deliver a hard message. And some preachers won't do it. They won't really teach what the Bible says, they'll just pick and choose what they like that the Bible says. So it's all hooray and a hoopla and a hue party every week for the Lord.
But sometimes and if you do this if you teach through all of the Bible, you will get some very difficult passages that you may not like and you may not want to preach but the Lord sends ambassadors to speak to his people. Moses, I want you to tell them what I told you that they are stiff-necked people. It's part of the review so he gave that message it wasn't his favorite message to give. He much rather go, "God loves you. You're okay. No problem. Let's sing another song. I have the worship team come up and we just get happy." But he said, "You know what, strip off your ornaments. Lord's pretty bummed out. You're a stiff-necked people." And he preached that message.
Now God says, "My full presence isn't going to go with you, my angels is going to go. He's going to direct you, my messenger but I am not going to dwell with you in my fullness because I'd wipe you out. I could wipe you out in a moment." In reading this, we maybe mistaken to think, "Oh this is the wrath of God." You see there it is again the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath. But the God of the New Testament is so gracious and loving. That would be a mistake. This isn't a display of God's wrath. This is the display of God's grace. He doesn't want them to die. He doesn't want them to be consumed.
That's why he says, "I can hang with you in the same way. I am so holy, you are so sinful that if I were to dwell with that immediate full kind of presence just like wax melts when the sun bursts upon it, these people would be consumed in an instant." Maybe a better illustration, maybe not a better illustration but certainly more, one that comes to my mind is if you remember Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade when the Nazis opened the Ark of the Covenant and he melted like wax, remember that? Because of the presence of God, I always think back to this. When I saw that movie, I think, wow, that sounds like Exodus. God says, "That could happen to you." What happened to that Nazi, that could happen to you. Of course that wasn't around then. So the children of Israel stripped themselves at their ornaments by Mt. Horeb.
Mt. Horeb is part of the chain of Mt. Sinai. It's a smaller mountain right next to Mt. Sinai. They mourned. I said that's a good thing. Do you know that Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn"? blessed, happy. There was years ago when a movement within the church, a holy laughter movement where people were laughing, falling down on the ground uncontrollably laughing and then blaming it on the Holy Spirit. I feel so bad sometimes for the Holy Spirit. He gets the bad wrath for the stupid things that people do. Just laughing, that's their church. They get together and just laugh. It's like "Oh it's the joy of the Lord. I can't help." And they just laugh and they laugh.
It's interesting that in the beatitudes, Jesus never said, "Blessed are those who laugh." He said, "Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted." When we realize the holy nature of God and the sinful nature of man, it causes two things to happen, the first and second beatitude basically. Blessed are the poor in spirit. I recognize I'm bankrupt before God. And then second, blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted. I mourn over that. I go, "God I'm so sorry for that," like these people were mourning for what they had done.
Another passage I marked that I want to read to you, don't worry I'm mindful of the time, we'll make it. 2 Corinthians Chapter 7, I'll read it to you. Paul wrote a very hard letter sort of like a Moses message. It's called 1 Corinthians. A sort of a message that says, "Corinthians are stiff-necked," and so he write 2 Corinthians and he said, "For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I don't regret it though I did regret it for I perceived that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while." Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry but that your sorrow led to repentance.
For you were made sorry in a godly manner that you might suffer lost from us and nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation not to be regretted but the sorrow of the world produces death. The keyword there is repentance. Godly sorrow brings repentance. Did you know that repentance is a key note in the New Testament? I know, I know, many churches today won't even mention repentance, yet how do they read the New Testament the very first message John the Baptist ever gave was repent. The first words recorded out of Jesus' mouth, "repent", when he came to as public ministry.
Basically, there's three responses we can have to our sinful condition. Response number one, we can be like the Pharisee in Luke Chapter 18 who Jesus said, "Pray does with himself. Lord I thank you that I'm not like others," especially like that tax collector. I give my ties, I fast twice a week. And we can start saying, "You know I'm better than a lot of other people. That's one way we can deal with our sinful condition. We can say, "I may be bad but there's a lot of worse people and a lot of church people that are worse than me. They're hypocrites."
Number two, you can acknowledge your sinful condition and decide I'm going to fix myself, that's the relative I'll buy a self-help book, I'll pull myself up by my bootstraps, I can do it. Number three, you can go the way that I mentioned that Jesus told us end in the beatitudes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit. I acknowledge my condition. Blessed are those who mourn, I repent of my condition."
Now Paul said, "You know what had made you sorry, I'm glad because it brought forth repentance, a change in you." It brought forth at least in the beginning a change in the people of Israel in Exodus 33. "Then Moses took his tent," Verse 7, notice, his tent "and pitched it outside the camp far from the camp." As if Moses was saying, "I don't know if want to be with these folks," but I'll explain. And he called it --" that is his tent, "he called it the Tabernacle of Meeting." Now don't get confused with The Tabernacle that hasn't been built yet. Only the blueprints have been given. He called it the Tabernacle of Meeting.
And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the Tabernacle of Meeting which was outside the camp. Okay the tabernacle itself, the structure where the animals would be sacrificed, the structure where the high priest where go in once a year, the place where the priest would officiate daily, that would be built and would occupy a central position in the camp of Israel, right, it would be right in the middle. This is different. This is a different tent. It's called the Tent of Meeting. It's a place where God is going to speak to Moses. And so whenever Moses went out to the Tabernacle, that is his tent which he pitched outside that all the people rose.
And each men stood in his tent door and tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the Tabernacle. And it came to pass when Moses entered the Tabernacle that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the Tabernacle, that is Moses' tent, and the Lord talked with Moses.
Question: Why did Moses bring this tent, his tent and pitched it outside the camp? Answer: I believe because the camp of Israel had been defiled by the golden calf. They brought in a false god or they brought in an image to worship the true God in the false manner. It defiled the camp. They, in essence by their idolatry were pushing God out away from them. They pushed God out. It was their deal. It was their fault. It wasn't like God said, "Well, I'm out of here. I don't want to be with you." They said, "We don't want you." And they defiled the camp and God was pushed out.
Now, I want to connect the dot with you. In Revelation Chapter 1, John sees a vision of Jesus Christ. You know the story, glorious vision. "But he sees Jesus with seven stars and seven lamp stands and an angel says, "John, the mystery of the seven stars is that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches whereas, the lamp stands are the churches themselves. And Jesus, the one you saw is walking in the midst of His church, He's with them, He's in fellowship with them." When we get into Revelation Chapter 2, it says, "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things says, he who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands.
I know your works, your labor, your patience. You cannot bear those who were evil. You've tested those who say they're apostles and are not. You found them to be liars and you have persevered. You had patience, blah, blah, blah. You get A's in your report card. Nevertheless, I have these against you. You have left your first love. Remember therefore, from where you have fallen, repent and do the first works or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place unless you repent." I'll remove the lamp stand from its place," well, where is this place? Well, Jesus is walking in the midst of the lamp stand so its place is the presence of Jesus, that's the place of God's people and in the presence of Jesus.
Jesus is saying, "I'm going to remove the lamp stand from out of its place." In other words, I will not be around a church that has pushed me out. I won't be in fellowship with them. I won't walk anymore with them. I'll remove the lamp stand from its place. Now, all of these that are happening in the Old Testament in the 33rd chapter, once again, is an act of God's grace at least there is a tent where Moses can go and the people of Israel can go to meet with God until that Tabernacle will be built in the center of the camp, with its sacrifices, etcetera.
This is an act of grace. God is saying, "You know what? I'm going to lead you there. My angel is going to go before you. You are going to get the lamp. God was acting in grace and in government. Remember, both of those things simultaneously. But I do see all of these as an act of God's graciousness. It says in Romans, I love this, Romans Chapter 5, "Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound." Here's a better translation, "When sin reaches the high watermark, grace overflows." That is you and I can never erect a barrier, a dam of sin so tall that God's grace can overflow its banks. I love this about God.
Back in 1492 just before you know what happened. There was a coin in Spain that on one side had printed up a motif, a picture of the Straits of Gibraltar, the rock of Gibraltar and the straits to which boats would enter and exit. It was believed that the Straits of Gibraltar was the edge of the world, there was nothing more beyond that. And so, it had a motif of the Straits of Gibraltar and underneath was written these words, "Ne Plus Ultra, no more beyond."
Well, as the year progressed, 1492 Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue, and he came back to Spain and he said, "Well boys, guess what? We've discovered more. This isn't the edge of civilization. This isn't the end of the world. There's much more beyond this." So they recast the coin and it said, "Plus Ultra, there is more beyond." When it comes to God's grace and our sin, there's more beyond. "Yeah, but I failed." There's more grace beyond. "Yeah, but I blew it." There's more grace beyond, and God doesn't give up on His people.
Verse 8 Chapter 33, "So what was whenever Moses went out to the Tabernacle" keep in mind, this is the tent now, just his tent pitched outside the camp. "That all the people rose and each man stood on the tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the Tabernacle." Why? Because it was a sight to behold, that pillar of cloud that directed them so far, went over to where Moses was and came down and stood at the entrance way and Moses was there in the presence of that cloud that depicted the very presence of God. That must have been the sight. "Hey, look at the clouds moving. Moses must be hanging out in this tent. Let's go and see."
"It came to pass when Moses entered the Tabernacle that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the Tabernacle and the Lord talked with Moses. And the people saw the pillar of clouds standing at the Tabernacle door and all the people rose and worshipped." Literally in Hebrew, "Rose and bowed down." They look at it and then they bowed down, as if to bow toward that cloud which to them represented God. And the Lord, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, "The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend and he would return to the camp, but a servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man did not depart from the Tabernacle."
When it says, "The Lord spoke to Moses face to face" it's a figure of speech. In Hebrew, it's literally, "Spoke to him, mouth to mouth." That is plainly in conversational tone not in a riddle, not in an enigma, not with the dark saying, just plain speech like, "Hey, Moses how are you doing?" Some he can't understand, mouth to mouth like a man speaks to his friend, "Hey, what's up? What's going on? What are you doing?"
In Numbers Chapter 12, God said, "If there is a prophet among you, I will speak to him in a dream or in a vision, but not so with my servant Moses, for he is faithful in all my house. With him, I speak plainly not in dark sayings." Just plain conversation, I love to just talk to the Lord. "Lord, how are you doing? Here's what's on my heart." And just honestly, openly, plainly in a normal conversation. I don't feel the need to suck wind when I talk to God. I don't feel I have to, "God" I just figure God is my friend and I won't buy any points if I got all emotional. I can just go, "Lord, here's the deal." The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.
How do you speak to the Lord? Like a friend? A lot of people speak to God like they speak to a doctor. I'll be more specific. They speak to God like when they talk to an emergency room doctor, it's a crises. "It's emergency. Am I going to live? Am I going to be all right? What's that blood? How deep is it?" And some people only come to God in a crisis. They don't talk to God as a friend. They talk to Him like an emergency room doctor. Other people don't talk to God as a friend. They talk to God like they would talk to a mother-in-law. I'm just saying. I'm just using a very common, you all get it. I have a wonderful relationship with my mother-in-law, but some don't. Many don't, and so they talk to their mothers-in-law begrudgingly.
Other people will talk to God like they talk to a police officer. They'll put on a little bit of a show. They'll explain to the officer why it's really not my fault. I didn't do anything wrong. A lot of people talk to God that way. Better to talk to God plainly and have the Lord talk to you because you will plainly hear like a man speaks to his friend. And Moses said to the Lord, "See, you say to me, bring up these 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 found grace in my sight, now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight and consider that this nation is Your people."
He prays for three things as I see it. Number one he prays for relationship excuse me, leadership. He prays for leadership. Notice that he says, "I pray, show me now Your way." Here's the deal, "Okay Lord, You told us to go from here. I need Your guidance. I need Your direction for my life. I need Your direction for these people. As leaders, I think all leaders should ask God for direction. I love it when a leader of a nation, a leader of a city, a leader of a state asks God for direction.
I had a fun lunch today. I got to have lunch with our mayor, the Mayor of Albuquerque and speak about his life and his relationship with the Lord and how much he loves Bible study he said and how he says, he often tunes in Wednesday night to hear our Through the Bible Study, so shout out to the mayor if he is listening. There you go. But as I was listening I thought, would to God that all public leaders would say, love bible study. Love getting into the word. Always need guidance from the Lord because I discovered God wants to direct to our lives. He wants to provide guidance but James put it this way, "You have not because you asked not." I think God is kind of sitting there going, "Well, I have a lot of direction I'd like to give you but you never ask." Or James put it this way, "Or you asked a miss that you might consume it upon your lust. You asked with the motives."
My first car was a 1967 Plymouth, I was a Christian. I thought that the Lord could do better than that for me because I had prayed for a car. I needed transportation. I needed transportation. I didn't have money, bought a '67 Plymouth for $37.00 even then, it was like, "You're kidding, they gave it to you." But the reason I got it cheap, the guy didn't want it. It was my brother, okay? He didn't want it. It was primer grey, Bando all over the sides of the car, had no muffler and was missing second gear. So you go from first to third. And I got it and I thought, "Lord, that's not really what I had in mind." I knew what I wanted. The Lord knew what I needed. I got around. I drove around. I made it. It transported me. It wasn't what I wanted, but I discovered what I wanted is I prayed that I might consume it on my own lust because I wanted some show not just go. I wanted show. There was no show in this car. It was completely an act of humility to drive it anywhere and humiliation. But he prays for God's guidance, show me your way.
The second thing he prays for is relationship. Notice that I might know You. I don't want to just know Your guidance. I don't want just know the direction, I want to know You, Lord. I want to know You. Who does that sound like? Anybody come to mind that I might know You? Paul the Apostle, Book of Philippians. He said, "All of the things that were gained into me, I counted loss. And I do count them loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I might gain Him. And be found in Him. Not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of faith in Jesus Christ that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering we make in formidable even unto His death."
Here's the startling thing about Paul's prayer. He had walked with the Lord for 30 years when he said that I might know Him, that's humbling. You, Paul, you've walked with the Lord 30 years, you've established churches all over the world. Miracles had been done by your hand and you're still praying that you want to know God deeper, more? Yup, he never stopped. He never plateau. He prays for leadership. He prays for relationship. I want to know your way. I want to know you personally.
The third thing he prays for is partnership where it he says, "And that I might find grace in your sight and consider that this nation is Your people." Lord, I want to know that with You the channels are always open and that I as the mediator of this covenant that You're the director still. That Your hand is directing us, me, that I know You and that the channels are always open. This is an ongoing process, partnership. And He said, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest." By the way that's in the singular. If I want it to translate it quite literally, I would say it this way, "My presence will go with you Moses and I will give you Moses rest." Not necessarily all of the people will experience the rest that Moses will experience on this long journey.
And he said to him, this is Moses now speaking, "If your presence does not go with us, do not bring us from here." Oh what a good prayer. "Okay, Lord thank you for that because you know if You're not going with us why even bother taking us and we'll just die right here. Because if You're not going with us, I don't want to go anywhere. I'd rather be right here where You are than go anywhere without You." And that's true, that's a true principle. Anywhere you go in the will of God is better than the best place on earth out of the will of God. "For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight except You go with us. So we will be separate, Your people and I from all the people who were upon the face of the earth."
So the Lord said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken for you have found grace in my sight and I know you by name." Next verse, I'm thinking but I'm looking at the time. And then he said, "Please, show me Your glory." Okay, Moses I'm going with you. No problem, but wait before you go, here's my big request. Here's the, "Please, show me Your glory." Stop and think about this. Think of all that Moses in his lifetime has seen with his own eyes. He has seen a bush burning and yet not be consumed. Have you ever seen one of those? I never have. He saw with his eyes plagues torment Egypt unmistakably, miraculously. Have you ever seen that? I never have. He saw a body of water, the Red Sea open up and dry land appeared. Have you ever seen that? I never have. He saw with his own eyes a pillar of cloud descend whenever he talked to God and he heard God's voice. Have you ever seen or hear that? I haven't.
Do you think that a guy who has seen all that and heard all of that would be like satisfied? And say, "God, just for the record, I'm really happy just as things are. I really don't need any further revelation of You." I don't – he goes, "Not enough, I've seen all that, really cool. Next, show me Your glory, show me Your glory." And then he said, "I will make my goodness pass before you. I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I would be gracious. I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." That may ring a bell. Paul quotes this in Romans Chapter 9 as well, "But he said, You cannot see my face for no one shall see me and live." No matter how sophisticated we become or theologically well-informed we are, at our very core, we want something that we will not get until we get to heaven and that is, we all want to see God. We want that. We want to see with our eyes God. We won't be satisfied until we see God.
Psalms 17 Verse 15, "I will be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." Or as the New Living translation puts it, "I will be satisfied when I see You face to face." A friend of mine is a surgeon, a general surgeon. He goes to Africa quite a bit, Dr. Dick Furman. He said everyday after his surgery rounds when he was working in Africa, he would go to the cemetery. He loved to read gravestones. And he would write them down if there were scriptures and go home and look them up at night there was nothing else to do. So he would look up gravestone scriptures at night and get ready for surgery the next day.
One day he walked through a graveyard not knowing what it was and saw on a gravestone the word, "Satisfied" and underneath, Psalms 17:15. He went home, he looked at up and it dawned on him. The Psalmist said, "I'll be satisfied when I see You face to face." And on that gravestone it was written, "Satisfied." Now, I'm satisfied. All my life I've been longing for this and now finally at death, I'm in God's presence. I'm satisfied.
Moses said, "Lord, show me Your glory." Can I just add a quick note to that? You know when Moses prayer was answered? Luke Chapter 9, "Jesus is transfigured before His disciples with Moses and Elijah. The full glory of God revealed on that mountain in the person of Jesus Christ. It took a long time but the prayer was answered. Verse 20: "He said, "You can't see my face. No man shall see me and live." And the Lord said, Here is a place by me and you shall stand on the rock."
Now, Paul does tell us in 1 Timothy Chapter 6 that God dwells in unapproachable light whom no man has seen nor will see. John writes in his gospel, John Chapter 1, "No man has seen God at any time." And then again in 1 John, "No man has seen God at any time." So what do we do with scriptures like Genesis Chapter 32 where Jacob wrestled with the angel and called the name of the place, "God's face, Peniel" for he said, "I have seen God's face and I haven't been destroyed." Or Isaiah Chapter 6, "In the year the King Uzziah died I saw the Lord high and lifted up." Or all of those other instances in the Old Testament where people said, they saw the Lord. The way to reconcile that is to discover in those passages what is told to us, explained to us in the New Testament. In those passages often is a reference to the angel of the Lord meeting with somebody and then the person says; "I have seen God face to face." I believe it's a pre-incarnate representation. It's a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ in the Old Covenant, in Theophany, theologians call it a Christophany, some are more precise.
Colossians Chapter 1 Paul says, "Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." Verse 22 it shall be, "Well, my glory passes by" and you get this, this is the trick and we're closing the chapter. "My glory passes by, so I'm going to hide you in a rock. It shall be when my glory passes by that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with my hand while I pass by. And then I will take away my hand and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen." Whatever it was some limited revelation, not the full revelation of God's glory because like the Nazi in the movie Moses too would melt. You can't do that Moses, nobody can handle it. It's just like if you were to stare with the sun with your eyes you damage your eyes, your whole being would melt "in my glorious presence. So I'm going to pass by and after I pass by and take my hand and you're going see my back."
Now, in Hebrew commentaries they will use the words and I've seen it before, "You will see my after glow."
As if God's passing was some fiery demonstrations, some bright fiery glow like the lightning and thunder and fire on Mt. Sinai that Moses had a glimpse of somehow. And God said, "Okay, I'm going to pass by, but you're going to see the afterglow and I'm going to proclaim my name as I go." So, he saw His afterglow. It's sort of like for me, this is the best way I can acknowledge it. If you're on surfboard, you're sitting on the ocean, you're waiting for a wave and it's flat there's like no waves but a big old boat go zoom by and you don't really see, just whoom. Just wait a moment and the wake of the boat that will create little waves, ripples and lift you up not enough to stand up on and do anything with, but you'll feel the effect of it, the result of it, the wake, the afterglow of God as he pass by. "You shall see my back but my face shall not be seen.So here's the principle, God is known by the results He leaves behind. "I'm going to proclaim my name" and chapter 34 we will have that name declared. In just a moment, we're going to take the elements of the Lord's Supper. As we do I want to propose something to you that we just mentioned, Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn." The word "blessed," macarias means, oh how happy and that sounds like a contradiction. Happy are those who are sad. Happy are those who mourn. Happy are those who recognize their poverty of spirit. Joy is found in sorrow when the sorrow is I evaluated my life before the Lord. I'm genuinely sorry, contritely sorry for my sin and I'm ever so grateful for the sacrifice on the cross, the blood that was shed, the body that was broken that allows me to experience the afterglow and eventually, full face to face fellowship with God.