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Summary: In Moses' frank conversation with God, we learn to pray for those who rebel against God, hunger for the presence of God, long for more of God, and shine with the light of God. As we seek after God, God will reveal more of himself to us.

Exodus 33:12-23

Developing a Personal Walk with God

Today’s conversation between Moses and God is pretty gutsy. Moses seems very comfortable with God, even to challenge God: “You don’t go with us, we don’t go!” Moses is praying real prayers here, nothing held back. And what is even more amazing than Moses’ frankness is God’s gentleness, God’s patience, God’s reassurance.

When you’re trying to understand a scripture, always look at the context: what’s happening around it. The conversation we’re looking at today falls between two separate deliveries of the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai the first set, only to find the nation of Israel worshiping a golden calf. He was so furious he broke the tablets. Later, God would give him a second set. But right now, God is furious, too. God has told Moses he plans to send an angel in his place to accompany Israel into the Promised Land, because he’s afraid he might kill them all if he stays with them any longer, due to their continued rebellion. This is the setting for today’s dialogue, as Moses intercedes for his sinful people before a holy God. As I look at Moses’ boldness before God, I see three or four applications for us. First, like Moses, we need to ...

1. Pray for those who rebel against God.

That’s what Moses is doing at the end of verse 13. He says to God, “Remember that this nation is your people.” And notice how Moses includes himself in verse 16 as he asks, “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?” Twice he does this. Moses intercedes for people who have rebelled terribly against God.

And we need to do the same. We all know people in rebellion against God. After all, if you are not a believer, the Bible says you are God’s enemy. You are either God’s friend or God’s enemy. There is no middle ground. We all have family members who don’t know God. We have friends who are rebelling against God, even if they are not aware they’re doing it. We have neighbors who are rebelling against God. Maybe you’re thinking, “I know, I know! But what can I do about it?” You can pray for them. That’s what you can do. We need to pray for them regularly. We need to pray often. We need to pray like Moses, “God, these people need you. They don’t stand a chance without you. Please save them. Save them from their sin and their selves, that foolish pride that tells them they don’t need you.” We need to intercede for those rebelling against God. After all, one of Jesus’ last statements from the cross was a prayer for those who did not know what they did.

Maybe some of you are thinking, “I don’t know a single person who is not a Christian.” You need to get out more! Meet some people. Go to something besides church and Bible study. Talk to someone outside the family of faith. How are you going to be salt and light to the world if all you know are Christians? We need to pray for those who don’t know God. And secondly, we need to ...

2. Hunger for the presence of God.

Moses wants God’s presence so badly that he says in verses 15 and 16, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

Indeed, what will? What will make us different from anyone else if we do not have the presence of God. The word for “presence” in the Hebrew actually means “face.” The idea is a very personal relationship with God, face-to-face. Just because you go to church does not make you a believer. The same way that, if you walk into a garage, it doesn’t make you a car. Only the presence of God in your life makes you a believer. And that is what sets us apart from the rest of the world, that God chooses to live in us. His Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence the moment we believe, the moment we yield life control to Jesus Christ, the moment we trade in our sins for Jesus’ lordship.

We need to hunger for God’s presence like we hunger for food. Missed any meals lately? Not me. In fact, if I’m late on one, I might have to grab a snack. I miss food too much. What if we hungered for God like we hunger for food? That’s what fasting does. It’s not just for medical labs, you know. We can also fast to remind ourselves how much we need God. (You might check with your doctor first, before fasting.) Without God’s presence, we are lost. We are no difference from the rest of the world. That’s what Moses says here: “Don’t send us to the Promised Land without you, God. Your presence is that important!”

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