One of the main passions of those seeking God is his Presence. In the midst of revivals there are heightened experiences of God’s glory. The love and mercy of God are showered upon the people seeking his face. There are revelations of his majesty and holiness and greater understanding of eternity. All of these glory encounters are the results of God’s Presence breaking through from heaven to earth. One of the Biblical characters that has always inspired me is Joshua, son of Nun. Joshua 1:6-9 has been a life verse for me - 6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” It was only Joshua and Caleb, 2 of the 12 spies, we were able to enter the Promised Land because of their faith in God. In his old age Joshua was victorious and set out to take his full inheritance. I have asked myself the question what was different about Joshua that enable him to keep on fighting for his inheritance in his old age. In light of this thought, this morning I would like to speak of God’s Presence and how to increase this in your life as you grow in your faith in Jesus Christ.
The Presence of God
There is a great passage of Scripture in the Old Testament found in Exodus 33. The sequence of events surrounding this passage are as follows; the Law is given, Exodus 19-24, the Tabernacle is built and established, Exodus 25-40, instructions for living holy lives in Leviticus 1-27, and then the 12 camps are organized around the Tabernacle, Numbers 1-10. I find it interesting that in the middle of all of this activity there is a chapter that speaks wholly to that of God’s Presence.
God’s Presence will not go
The people of God had just created a god of their own choosing – a golden calf – which angered God. Because of this idolatrous encounter God decides he will not go with his people into the Promised Land. Instead, he will only send an angel to guide them. In Exodus 6:3God gives his reason why – “But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” Our choices in life have consequences and, in this case, God not going with the people into the Promised Land was his act of mercy.
The response of the Israelites was to mourn and to take off all the gold and jewelry connected with the golden calf. Even with their repentance God’s Presence accompanying them was not a sure thing.
Tent of Meeting
The Tent of Meeting was the place where Moses could meet with God while the Tabernacle was under construction. The tent was outside the camp in contrast to the Tabernacle with would eventually be the center of the Israelite camp, surrounded by the 12 Tribes of Israel. It was here that Moses met with God – we are told this was face to face – signifying a place of deep closeness, friendship and intimacy. Any Israelite who needed to inquire of the Lord would go outside the camp to the Tent of Meeting where Moses would meet with God on their behalf. It was in these moments of God’s Presence that the people would stand to attention and worship God.
For myself I find Exodus 33:11a key verse – “The 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.” After the ministry was done for the people of God Moses would leave the tent, the pillar of cloud would dissipate BUT Joshua would not leave the tent. Moses was speaking to God face to face all the while Joshua sat there in observance. Joshua did not leave because he was still desiring more of God for himself. The was his after-glow in the Presence of God; he would meditate on what just happened, he would think about what was said by God and Moses, he would take time to emote and feel the experience. I believe it is this hunger for God’s Presence that sustained Joshua later as he crossed into the Promised Land. In his old age he was different because he spent time in God’s Presence as a young man. Even though the Presence of God left Joshua would not, he would remain, abide and not let go of what just happened.
Don’t send us without your Presence
The conversations recorded between God and Moses are something to read. The openness and honesty are stunning. It is in Exodus 33that Moses speaks to God about crossing the Jordan River. Moses is troubled because God has said he would not accompany them into the Promised Land. In essence Moses says – “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here”(Ex 33:15). After God assures Moses that his Presence will accompany them into the Promised Land Moses presses the dialogue even further with a “show me your glory” statement (Ex 33:18). God’s Presence shows up in his goodness, mercy and compassion.
The times that I have experienced personal revival in Jesus are always associated with God’s Presence. In the life of Joshua, we are giving a little glimpse into how this start for him. Joshua stayed behind and lingered in God’s Presence. He did not move forward without first taking in all the revelation and wisdom that was communicated between God and Moses.
How can we put this into practice in our own lives?
1. Find a Moses; someone that you can spend time with that is connecting with God.
2. Develop a hunger and curiosity for God like Joshua.
3. Stay true to God’s Word.
4. Be courageous.