Summary: What is it, in the end, that honestly, really matters?
Do you identify with any of these statements?
I am happy when I have no family conflict.
When all my bills are paid, I feel better about life.
I feel relieved, my medical exam went well.
I am delighted when my parent’s leave me alone.
I was able to help out a good friend today, I feel very satisfied.
I was right, I was correct and everybody knows it - I feel good about that.
There are all kinds of things that can make us feel good aren’t there? Sometimes things that are…well…self centered, but still, they make us feel good don’t they? Other times the things that make us happy are very noble. Either way, all these things, whether self centered, or noble, produce temporary results – I can have a good day, a great day, but I know in the back of my mind, tomorrow trouble may be just around the corner. We seek this thing and that thing, but in the end, in the end, what is it that honestly, really matters?
Let’s look at our Scripture for today. The Hebrews for months have sought the things that made them feel good: Abundant food and water, safety and security, indulging in pagan revelry - each time they found the relief was only temporary. Now the Hebrews are again in crisis. Earlier in the chapter (Exodus 33) the people were informed, that because of their sin of creating in imaginary god, the golden calf, the presence of the Lord God would no longer be with the people. Suddenly they realize what life is about. All priorities are off the table, all plans are set aside, they go into a time of mourning, they step into a time of, “What Might Have Been”. Without the presence of God, they have lost their identity. They now realize that they had what they really wanted. They realize that without the Lord all their striving is for nothing.
A Sunday class that had was asked the question, ”In your time of discouragement, what is your favorite Scripture?¨ A young man said, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want Psalm 23:1¨. A middle age woman said, “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1”. Another woman said, “In this world you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world. John 16:33”. Then old Mr. Johnson, stood up and said with as much strength as he could muster, “and it came to pass, you will find that 85 times in the bible”. The class started to laugh a little thinking that old Mr. John was, well, losing it.
Mr. Johnson continued, “When I was 33 I lost my job with six hungry mouths and a wife to feed. We had no idea, how we would make it. At 41 my eldest son was killed overseas in combat. It knocked me down, I couldn’t believe I had lost a child. At 57 my house burned to the ground. We lost everything. At 60 my wife of 40 years got cancer. We cried together many a night on our knees in prayer. She died soon thereafter and I still miss her today. The agony I went through in each of these situations was unbelievable. I wondered, “where is God?” But each time I looked in the bible I saw one of those 85 verses that said, “and it came to pass.¨ I would stop thinking about what might have been, and I would realize once again, we are eternal beings, and this time we have here is temporary, I would then start to reflect upon what life will be through the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And it came to pass….What is it, in the end, that honestly, really matters?
We pick up the story at verse 7 where we see Moses walking into a tent called the Tent Of Meeting. Later, the Tabernacle would be inside the camp. But here, we have the Tent Of Meeting, and it is outside the camp. The people have found themselves in great disfavor with the Lord, He will not dwell with the people, so He demands that the Tent Of Meeting be set up outside the camp. This is a painful reminder for the people of how far they have become from God.
Moses would enter the tent with all the people standing, waiting in anticipation of Moses meeting with God. The tent is apparently empty with only Moses and the young Joshua inside. Notice, God meets Moses at the entrance, He does not go into the tent, Verse 9. God comes to talk, not to dwell. Remember the pillar of fire by night, and the pillar of cloud by day that lead the Hebrews from place to place in the desert? This is the cloud that comes down to the Tent of Meeting. Here God speaks to Moses, the people would worship God while Moses and God had a conversation. This must have been an awesome experience for the Hebrew people. If they had any doubt that Moses was the appointed leader by God, seeing the pillar of cloud meet with Moses and the voice of God accompany the cloud would erase any of those doubts.