Who Is This God?November 15-19
The God Who Leads Stubborn People
Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people. – Exodus 33:3 (ESV)
Many terms and phrases in the English language harken back to a time not so long ago when horses were of extreme importance. Phrases like ‘stubborn as a mule,’ ‘beating a dead horse,’ ‘horseplay,’ ‘horsing around’ and ‘horse laugh’ are self-evident and require no explanation. Other phrases have origins obscured in the past. Some, like the humorous reference to an automobile as a horseless carriage, have survived longer than many would have anticipated. Everyone is acquainted with the saying ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,’ which was cited as a proverb as early as 1546. (www.carnegiemuseums.com)
God compares the nation of Israel to a stubborn horse in Exodus 33:3. God calls them a “stiff-necked people.” “Stiff-necked” was an expression that described a horse that refuses to respond to the rider’s tug on the reins! God had led His people out of Egypt and to the door of the Promised Land but they continued to rebel and resist by making false idols and complaining.
Warren Weirsbe writes, “God would keep the covenant promises He had made to the patriarchs, but instead of going before Israel in the person of His Son, the Angel of the Lord (Ex 23:20–23), He would appoint an angel to accompany the Jews.”
Can you remember a time when you tried to lead people and they continued to complain or not trust your direction? Do you recall how frustrating that was? Why do you think we are so stubborn at times when it comes to following God’s leadership?
Thank God for continuing to lead and love you even when you have been stubborn. Ask God to give you a heart that is sensitive to His leadership and eager to follow.
The God Who Leads His Friends
When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. – Exodus 33:9-11 (ESV)
Dwight Moody was once asked how he managed to remain so intimate in his relationship with Christ. He replied, I have come to Him as the best friend I have ever found, and I can trust Him in that relationship. I have believed He is Savior; I have believed He is God; I have believed His atonement on the cross is mine, and I have come to Him and submitted myself on my knees, surrendered everything to Him, and got up and stood by His side as my friend, and there isn’t any problem in my life, there isn’t any uncertainty in my work but I turn and speak to Him as naturally as to someone in the same room, and I have done it these years because I can trust Jesus.
Moses didn’t literally see God face to face because no one can see God that way and survive. Rather, “face to face” in Exodus 33 is representative of the friendship and intimacy they shared. Moses had a unique relationship with God. Moses experienced God’s presence in a way that no one else in the camp of Israel was able to enjoy. Deuteronomy 34:10 says, “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”
Under the New Covenant any believer is able to have a special friendship with Jesus. Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
What are some of the things that make someone your best friend? What are some ways you could grow your friendship with Jesus?
Praise God for the grace to know Him. Thank Him for the opportunity to know Him as a friend
The God Who Leads Personally
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14 (ESV)
Martin Wiles writes: We vowed we’d remain the best of friends, but distance was fighting against us. We attended church together, worked with the youth together, and ate at each other’s house almost every Saturday night. David and Lisa were our best friends. Then one day, we received shocking news. They were moving. The Denver National Airport-where he once worked, was offering him a job. We promised each other distance wouldn’t separate us.
Initially, the calls were frequent. They even flew us out two times for a week of visiting. Then the calls became more infrequent. We each got busy with our lives, and voicemail messages became more common than actual conversations. Once a month conversations are now the norm. Even then, it’s not the same. Presence is missing. Tech conversations can’t replace an actual body and time spent together.
There is no adequate substitute for actually being in someone’s presence. God promised Moses His presence but at this point in Exodus 33:14 God is not promising the rest of the nation of Israel His presence. There is “rest” in God’s presence. Israel had struggled for hundreds of years in Egypt and they desperately needed the type of rest that only comes in the presence of God.
Covid has changed the way we interact with each other in so many ways. We have grown accustomed to social distancing, zoom calls and online church. However, there is no substitute for the presence of God and being in the presence of His people. What difference does it make in your faith when you sense the presence of God? What difference does it make in your faith when you get to be in the presence of God’s people?
Praise God for the power, peace and rest you find in His presence. Thank God for the freedom to come together in worship as a church family.
The God Who Leads Us
And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.” – Exodus 33:15 (ESV)
After one of the most stressful episodes in which my husband’s new cardiologist revealed damage subsequent to his bi-pass surgery, my husband’s face turned pale. I tried to hide the reeling, attempting to be in control for the moment. But it wasn’t easy for either of us. The following day, I woke up at dawn eager to meditate and pray. I asked God: “Show me Your Presence, and that you are hearing me, because I feel powerless, lost, and ill at ease.
Sunday arrived, and I had forgotten about my prayer to Our Lord. As we moved into a pew that wasn’t occupied, a stream of light seeping through one of the glass beams in the ceiling shone its sunshine upon us. As the Light became so overwhelming, we moved to the left of the pew. The Light followed us. Too embarrassed to move to another pew, I looked helplessly at my husband, as if to say: “What do we do now?” He nudged me to move farther to the left. I did, and the Light followed us, until we were at the end of the pew. I was really frustrated by it, as I had forgotten my request to Our Lord. Days later, I prayed for God to forgive me for not having remembered my prayer to Him: “Show me Your Presence, and that You are with me because I feel powerless, alone and ill at ease.” (Rose BELIEVEIM@webtv.net)
In Exodus 33:15 Moses asks God for His presence to be with him and the entire nation of Israel. In the previous verse God emphasized He would go with Moses but now Moses is emphasizing God go with “us.” Moses and the nation of Israel could go into the Promised Land without God. But Moses understood the Promised Land without the God of the promise wasn’t worth it. Moses prayed that God would leave them right where they were if He wasn’t going to go into Canaan with them.
There are so many times we can be tempted to go on in life without God. We make plans and dream with no thought of how this fits into God’s plan for our life. Can you think of any areas of your life where you are currently moving forward without God?
Praise God for the unique way our church family experiences Him together. Thank God for leading us to where we are now as a church family. Ask God to keep us where we are until He leads us in a different direction.
The God Who Leads With Blessings
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?” – Exodus 33:16 (ESV)
A little boy was saying his bedtime prayers with his mother: “Lord, bless Mommy and Daddy, and God, GIVE ME A NEW BICYCLE!!!” His mom said, “God’s not deaf, son.” The little boy replied, “I know, Mom, but Grandma’s in the next room, and she’s hard of hearing!”
God is not hard of hearing and He is a God who delights in blessing His children. Moses understood that with God’s presence and leadership came God’s “favor.” The word “favor” comes from the same word we get our word grace. Grace is God’s undeserved blessing in our lives. Moses knew that others could tell when God’s favor was on someone. Moses knew if God didn’t go with them even the pagan nations would recognize something was missing and that something was God.
Walking with God should set us apart in the community. People should see something different about the Church and the Christians who make up the church. What are some of the things that you think make Second Baptist look different in the community? What are some things people notice about you because of your relationship with God?
List some of the ways God has blessed our church and praise Him for those blessings. List some of the ways God has blessed you and praise God for those blessings.