Summary: God is inviting you to get as close as you dare to get.
December 2, 2007
Text: Exodus 33:7-23
Subject: The Presence of God
Title: How Close Do You Want to Get?
I have known a lot of different people. When I worked in a factory as a young man I think I knew every one of the 200+ people that worked there. When I worked in construction I met people from every trade from virtually every part of the St. Louis area. Since we have been here I have met a lot of interesting people. As a matter of fact wherever I have gone interesting people have been there. Some of the most interesting people are the ones who talk about their lives in terms of “almost”. You know the ones I mean. “I almost got to shake the president’s hand. I almost was a rock star. I almost played professional baseball. One of my favorites was a fellow I worked with in construction who was about my age. His name was Lou. And though he was about my age and even though we didn’t have a lot in common, the one thing we did have in common was the 60’s. Lou’s claim to fame was, “I almost went to Woodstock.” Being the old Rock and Roller that I am that intrigued me. “What do you mean, you almost went to Woodstock?” I asked. “What happened”?
“Well, I packed up my car and decided I was just going to go but my car broke down on the way.”
“Too bad” I said. “How close did you get?”
“Well, I crossed the Mississippi River and got into East St. Louis…”
Obviously Lou didn’t get as close to Woodstock as he would have us believe.
That kind of sounds like people in Palmyra that I have talked to.
“I almost came to your church last Sunday.”
“I almost got saved…”
“I almost told somebody about Jesus.”
There are a lot of “almosts” to be had in Christianity. But almost is never enough. I want to talk to you today about your walk with Christ. How close have you become? How much have you desired to draw so close to Him that you can sense His presence right beside you? If your answer is, “I almost…” you fit right in with a lot of church people. But I want to show you tonight that “almost” is never good enough.
How close are you willing to get?
I. WANTING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS. (7-11) 7Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. 8And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. 10Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. 11The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Look at what was taking place here. 1) Moses knew where He could go to get close to God. He didn’t call it a “Tent of Meeting” for nothing. Now this is the same Moses who killed and Egyptian and then ran away and hid for forty years. This is the same Moses who tried to talk God out of sending him to lead the people out of Egypt. This is the same Moses who argued that he was not eloquent enough in his speech to be able to stand against Pharoah. Where would we be now if Moses had been able to say, “I almost said yes to God and led Israel out of Egypt”? 2) The people knew where to go to get an answer to prayer. Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. However, they were always content in allowing Moses to intercede for them. 3) The people were willing to worship God from a distance… 10Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. Did you ever stop to wonder why no one else ever wanted to go into the presence of the Lord to talk to Him the way Moses did? 11The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. But the people were satisfied watching from a distance and worshiping. Hebrews 10:22, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. People then, like now, want to see what is going on in a Spirit – filled church but are not willing to get too close. Are they afraid it might rub off on them? Could that be why people are wiling to sit at home and watch church on TV instead of coming to church to experience God first hand? Yet Moses talked to God as friend to friend.