Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “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?”
And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
- Exodus 33:12-23
“While working on the Student Bible my colleague and I made a selection of great prayers of the Bible, which can be read in a two-week period, one prayer per day. Some are intimate and private while others were delivered in a very public setting. Each gives an actual example of a person talking to God about an important matter and teaches something unique about prayer:”
- Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?
I will be intermittently away from the keyboard for much of many of the days for about two weeks. I had been praying about what I could write during this period, or for this period. I try to stay a few days ahead in my writing, but with my cataract surgeries, and – confession time a little laziness – along with the heavy doctor visit schedule, I was writing my posts just in time. (Pardon the typos, if there were any. Really my biggest problem is changing verb tense, at will, throughout paragraphs, and within a sentence as Yancey does in the quote, but homonyms and blatant typos do exist after several reviews.) I had just read Yancey’s book, and I thought of his list of prayers. The chapter on Prayers in the Bible had started with the Lord’s prayer, gone to the Psalms as a whole, and included a general discussion on the prayers of Paul in his various letters. Then Yancey lists fourteen prayers after the paragraph above. The thought of this list struck me. Then when I re-read the page in the book, the words ‘two-week period’ struck me. Rather than the Holy Spirit striking me out with a third strike, I decided to write a few ideas – maybe some really short posts – for each prayer. I will copy the Yancey quote and this paragraph for each of the fourteen, so if you read every day, you can skip this with the remaining parts.
I have used this Scripture before when a Fanny Crosby hymn was being a persistent earworm, “He Hideth My Soul.” Now let’s focus on the conversation that Moses had with God. Notice in this and Abraham’s prayer, in part 1, it is not a one-way communication, but a conversation.
I heard a recent interview with a Messianic Rabbi. He said that the Old Testament is read improperly by most Christians. He said that the Jews read their Scriptures as a community and even when reading or studying alone, they think of the Scriptures in the framework of community, rather than the individual. In as such, the concept of God living at the tabernacle or the temple is important to them.
In this Scripture, Moses has been given the Law from God. He has just gotten the instructions for building the tabernacle, a mobile dwelling place for God. Yet, to read the prayer Moses offers to God, it is as if he, Moses, has no faith that God will go with them to the Promised Land. Moses seems to think that God exists only on this mountain. After all, here is where Moses had seen the burning bush.
This is the same Moses who travelled to Egypt and in many cases was instructed by God to do something with his staff for the next plague to come. In yesterday’s post, he and his sister, Miriam, wrote a song of praise, a prayer of praise, after the Egyptian army was drowned in the Red Sea. God again instructed Moses to raise his staff on that occasion. Do we need an inventory here? God was in Egypt. God was at the Red Sea. God was in Sinai with the manna. God was at the defeat of the Amalekites, again when Moses had to raise his staff.
Yet, Moses seems to need another sign. He needed to see God. Moses is listed as one of the greats of faith, Hebrews 11:24-28. He was a Hall of Famer, not just an ‘also mentioned.’
So, what does that tell us about our prayer life? We can talk to God about our doubts. We can talk to God about our weaknesses. Sure, God has given us faith. Within us is the power to concur our fears and give us strength, but we must realize that ourselves. We must realize that it is God’s strength within us.
How do we realize that? First, we must be up front and honest with God, and then we must wait for God’s answer. We may not be a Faith Hall of Famer, like Moses, and get to sit in the cleft of a rock while God passes by. But God may reveal Himself in the subtlest of ways, but in a way that we, and maybe only the person needing the reassurance, will recognize. Then again, God can respond by having us travel on our personal journey to our Promised Land without that reassurance. This proves the faith of the person who does not get that sign, yet still believes.
As I have mentioned in many posts, a walk with Jesus requires that “all in” moment when you place all your trust in Him, but, in actuality, there may be more than one of those moments. Along our journey of faith, with our Christian assurance of salvation in our rearview mirror, to us too far back to notice, we can still have that moment where it seems God is at our shoulder, “I know that you don’t see the path in front of you, but take the first step in faith, then another.”
These moments may come when God calls you to a specific ministry, to the mission fields, or to the bedside of a dying friend. You have your excuses, but what does God do? God may simply acknowledge what you said and then repeat what He said before the excuses. “I know, just go.” The glorification of God comes with you taking the next step forward.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.