Summary: We see the human error and frailty of the church, but God has promised, and He is in our Midst still.
Then Moses said to the LORD, "See, You say to me, ’Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ’I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’
"Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people."
And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."
Then he said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.
"For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?"
The LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name."
Christians, we are by and large an awfully presumptuous lot, aren’t we? We have this penchant for going about our own way, living our day pretty much by the moment, making our own plans, unilaterally deciding on this or that; until we get hurt or sick or in trouble. Then we pray. And for the most part, we pray not, “Lord, what would you have me do?”, but “Lord, please bless the decision I’ve made”, or “Please take care of this problem”.
Consider Moses. Someone says the name, and we tend to picture this Charlton Heston-like figure, flowing white robes, long white hair and beard blowing in the wind, staff held high at the end of a powerful outstretched arm, looking heavenward and about to bring his staff down on the waters of the Red Sea.
The strong leader. Remember the old commercial? “When E.F. Hutton speaks, everyone listens”. Well, when Moses speaks, even E.F. Hutton listens.
But I want you to observe today, that from the time we’re introduced to the adult Moses in the Bible, we’re given pictures of his lack of self-assuredness. When he realizes his murder of the Egyptian was witnessed he runs in fear and takes up residence in the wilderness. When God calls to him from the burning bush and gives him his commission, he makes up excuses and whines until God becomes angry with him. When Pharaoh refuses to let the people go, Moses whines again.
The important thing not to miss through all of it however, is that as time goes by, and under his leadership the people are freed and fed and cared for, Moses’ confidence grows; but it is a confidence in God, not in himself.
Therefore, when he is confronted with a new set of circumstances that look bad for the people he loves, he doesn’t run to his tent and start laying out a blueprint for action. He doesn’t call together his elders and say, “ok, guys, here’s a big problem and we need to try to head it off at the pass”. No, he goes directly to God and basically says, “We’re helpless without You”.
There is a more important lesson for us to learn in the verses of our text today; and it is the humility and faithful subservience of Moses that brings it to the surface for us to see. It is the marvelous, wondrous, grace of God; “…compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth” (34:6)
THE STORY SO FAR
Let’s get caught up with the story so far. I won’t take you all the way back, but we know that God delivered His people from Pharaoh’s grasp using astonishing miracles, giving Pharaoh every opportunity to repent and listen to Moses, but in the end bringing down the death of the firstborn of Egypt, while keeping the children of Israel safe inside their homes, eating the first Passover meal.
Then He took them across the Red Sea on a dry bed while the waters congealed (Ex 15:8) and stood up on either side of them, using that same sea to destroy the pursuing Egyptian army when they tried to cross in their chariots.
Then he gave them manna to eat, and miraculously gave them water from a rock at Horeb, and gave them victory over Amalek at Rephidim.
So the people have seen many miracles. Everything Moses has told them has happened, and through his intercession for them God has met every need.
He has shown His compassion and mercy on them over and over. He has given them the Law as He met with Moses on the mountain.