And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to Him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and Your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
It is a blessing to know and have gifted men and women with you in life. They complete us, adding the richness of their lives and the uniqueness of their perspectives. Each friend and family member is a blessing, but there is one Presence that is essential.
Moses knew this well. He had known moments without it and watched people live in isolation from God. He had also experienced intimacy with the Almighty. Moses called the tabernacle the “tent of meeting” because it was designed in his day as a recognizable place of God’s presence. “Everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting” (vs. 7b). Moses himself would go there and God, signified by the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance, would descend. It was said that Moses would commune with God, “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” and the people would stand at their tent doors and worship the One who condescends to be close with those He has created.
Can you imagine what Moses experienced? The Lord had chosen to speak with Moses in unique ways because of his singular position as the leader of His people. Moses needed this. Only the presence of God would keep Moses centered and stable, confident of God’s direction and intent on His glory. God’s presence was his compass and companionship in an amazingly difficult journey as he led several million ever-grumbling Hebrews to the Promised land. And Moses knew that only God among them provided their distinctiveness. Apart from Him they would have been just another pagan people, doomed to a separated, wandering, idolatrous life.
Moses’ experience was unique, but not unrepeated. For the sacrifice on the great altar of Golgotha which the tabernacle foreshadowed brought salvation to all men. The veil of the temple was torn in two symbolizing the ability for all believers to enter the holy of holies and experience the Presence. And then, at Pentecost, the Father bestowed His Spirit upon all believers. “I will not leave you orphans…I will be with you and will be IN you” Christ proclaimed (John 14:17-18). He fulfilled that glorious promise making each believer the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
We can know God. We can commune with Him as friend to friend. We can experience the essential Presence. It is the great condescension His matchless mercy provides. But it is also a sign that we were created for this. His Spirit in us now and heaven in our future proves that God delights in our presence. He enjoys our fellowship and welcomes us to Himself.
Everything flows from the presence of the Lord. To have Him is to have everything important. Without Him we have nothing of value. Enjoy your time with Him. Relish every moment of every day and the amazing ability to commune with the God of the universe. Bow in humble gratitude often for you have been given the great privilege, the highest opportunity, the essential Presence.
(copyright 2009, Bill Elliff)