Sunday, August 3, 2008

Drawing Near to God

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.’ 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.”
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 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.”
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.”
And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
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.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 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. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Exodus 33:12-23
I feel that the greatest needs that the Church has today is for people to find in a greater measure God’s closeness in their lives. So many of us get so busy with life that we forget about who we are and who God is. Somehow we have come to think that we don’t need God until we are in trouble. We want God when we need Him but we don’t want to live in His presence.

In our scripture today we find Moses in conversation with God about where He wanted Moses and the people of Israel to be. While their leader, Moses, was in conversation with God, the people were in conversation with Aaron about a false God.
"And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." Exodus 32:1-4
Moses was in conversation with God about the ten commandments. The people had come to the place where they felt they not longer needed God. They wanted to worship, but not God! They made a golden calf to worship. They even went as far as to have the preacher make it for them. Then they offered a feast to the "Lord." They went through the motions of worship but without God!

I wonder sometimes if in our world we just go through the motions of serving God. We go to church, we give God an offering, we sing the songs . We do good deeds. But all the time we are serving the gods of this world. In other words we do our part religiously but don’t want God as a part of our daily lives until we need Him.
And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. Exodus 32:9-10
At this point Moses begins interceding for the people.
And Moses besought [pleaded with] the Lord his God. Exodus 32:11
And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. Exodus 32: 14
Then the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way. Exodus 33:1-3
  • God wanted the people out of His sight (because of their sins).
  • God gave them a man to lead them.
  • God keeps His promises.
  • He will send His angel with them.
He would not go Himself. This was bad news from God.
And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned and no one put on his ornaments. Exodus 33:4

Of all the consequences of sin , the fact that God departed from them caused great sorrow to the people. Even though God had told them that they could still go to the land of Canaan they knew that without God the land would just be like any other land.

If God is not pleased by our actions, He will not be present in our lives.

The words in verse 3, "For I will not go with you" brought the people to their knees. The people began repenting of their sins. They would not put on their "ornaments" [finery or jewelry]. They put on sack cloth and ashes.

Now God had said that He would send His Angel with them but He Himself would not be there. God said in so many words "I will give you a representative of my presence but I will not be there in person.

Let me ask some important questions here:
  • I wonder if that is where the church is today. Have we become a stiff-necked people?
  • Are we being satisfied with man-made religion with man-made rules rather than the presence of God?
  • Have we come to the place where we don’t need God because we have knowledge about God ?
  • Have we substituted programs for His presence?
And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. Exodus 32:31-32
And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exodus 33:9-14
God has always had an intercessor!
  • Noah was an intercessor for his world.
  • Abraham was an intercessor for Lot and his family.
  • In our lesson we find Moses interceding for the people.
Moses is a type of Jesus Christ.
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:19-25
Moses was willing to give his life for the people. Jesus gave his life for all the world!

As I was preparing this message God showed me something I had not thought of.

Moses was the only one who made intercession for the people but God has given us two:

  1. Jesus Christ the Son of God. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:34
  2. The Holy Spirit. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26 -27
And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people... And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. Exodus 33:12-13, 18
You and I can’t live in the presence of God by ourselves but we must have the help of God every day. God sends His Son and His spirit to help us.

Moses was a type of Christ the great intercessor, whom the Father heareth always . He would not be satisfied with anything short of having God’s presence with Him and the Children of God. So he did the only thing he knew to do. He prayed. The people repented and God answered them.

God will always answer people who pray and repent.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Let's not be satisfied without God’s presence in our lives.

I need thee every hour, Most gracious Lord.
No tender voice like thine can peace afford.
I need thee, oh, I need thee; every hour I need thee!
Oh, bless me now, my Saviour; I come to thee.

I need the every hour, Stay thou near by.
Temptations lose their power when thou art nigh.
I need thee, oh, I need thee; every hour I need thee!
Oh, bless me now, my Saviour; I come to thee.

I need thee every hour, In joy or pain.
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain
I need thee, oh, I need thee; every hour I need thee!
Oh, bless me now, my Saviour; I come to thee."
--Annie Hawks