Monday, July 27, 2020
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?” Exodus 33:15-16
“Unless” is a powerful word—it is a conditional word. The idea of “unless” weaves its way in and out of our everyday lives as we continually live out the reality of cause and effect. When we study the life of Jesus we can see He had a rhythm of inviting people close so they could experience His presence and then challenging them with a difficult teaching or sending them out with a difficult task. It is a simple theological reality. We cannot experience spiritual formation and possess adequate power for ministry unless we experience God’s presence in worship and on mission.
The Israelites had blown it. When Moses had disappeared on the mountain with God for 40 days, the people panicked and decided to take matters into their own hands worshipping something they could see. God was angry and threatened to leave them to their own destruction without His presence and power. Ironically, the people would eventually know utter failure when they tried to cross the border without God’s presence (Num. 14:39-45). Moses desperately knew he and the people needed God’s presence if they were to move forward. Their identity and purpose depended on His presence. Moses realized that unless God went with them, they might as well not go at all because their mission would be in vain and no one would know they were God’s chosen people. It was better to stay in the wilderness with God than enter the land of promise and rest without Him. He then led the people to recalculate their purpose with God’s presence through confession and worship.