We are continuing our study of the Promises of God. One of the joys of following Jesus is discovering who he is in light of the Scriptures. On Sunday’s I often preach a message out of the Scriptures and hope that it encourages and inspires you to grow in your relationship with God. In other words, my first-hand revelation becomes your second-hand revelation. You have to take time to think about what I am saying making sure it is valid; just like the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). In light of the promises of God – this is the where the Scriptures take on a personal nature. My promises are personal and relate to the challenges and joys of my walk with Jesus. As we study through the Promises of God – it is so important for you to take the Word of God and the promises found within and make them your own.
I want to begin this morning with a question. Are God’s promises conditional or unconditional? A careful Bible reader notices that they are usually a mixture of both. In one sense, God’s promises are unconditional, and our sin or disobedience will not prevent God from ultimately fulfilling his purposes on earth. On the other hand, there are references in the Scriptures that state, “IF” which relates to the importance of the obedience of God’s people.
This tension is finally resolved when Jesus comes and fulfills the Law and Prophets. Now through Jesus’ obedient life and sacrificial death, all of the promises of God can finally be released to men and women. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 1:20-22). Jesus’ obedience to the point of death on the cross releases brand new favour and grace to us as followers of Jesus. The promises of Scripture now come into focus in Jesus. God now “makes” us (establishes us, causes us to stand firm, makes us dependable, makes us steadfast, causes us to believe) his own by the promises of God and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah.
The Presence of God
Throughout the Old Testament God reveals himself to us in various forms of his Presence. One amazing passage of Scripture is found in Exodus 33:7-23. Previously, Moses had received the two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God only to have the Israelites grow impatient with God and Moses. In the meantime, they created a golden calf to worship, similar to those in Egypt. Needless to say, there was a great commotion when Moses confronts the people and smashes the Ten Commandments. God calls the Israelites “a stiff-necked people” and refuses to go with them into the Promised Land. My Presence will not go with you…
This leads us to the key passage for this morning; Ex 33:7-11. I hope to help us to see the growing interaction between Moses and God and how we to can grow in grace and favour with God as we apply God’s Promises to our lives, especially the Promise of His Presence.
Moses set up a Tent of Meeting where he (and Joshua) met with God – His Presence. “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex 33:11a), using metaphors for intimacy and accessibility to God. In the ancient Near East it was dishonourable to look a superior in the face. And yet that is exactly what God and Moses engage in. Very personal…
The story carries on from there; Ex 33:12-23. The storyteller returns back to the main narrative found in Ex 33:1–6 where the people learned that God will not go with them to the Promised Land and how they mourned in response. Now Moses intercedes on their behalf and convinces God not only to go with them, but also to reveal more of Himself to Moses. Moses states to God – “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (Ex 33:13). Moses was seeing God face to face and now he asks to know God’s ways so that he can lead God’s people. God responds by saying, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Ex 33:14). In the Scriptures God often states – “if”; if you do this then I will do that or if you don’t do this then I won’t do that (conditional promises). Now Moses uses “IF” back to God. “Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Ex 33:15). This reveals to us the depth of personal relationship between Moses and God. And once again God responds favourably to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (Ex 33:17). The very personal is now becoming very practical for Moses leadership over the Israelites.
Moses takes his pursuit of God a step further. He has known God face to face, metaphorically speaking, and grown in intimacy. He has asked to know the ways of God and continue to find favour in order to lead God’s people. Now Moses asks of God – “Now show me your glory” (Ex 33:18); the boldness of Moses is inspiring. God responds by saying – “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence” (Ex 33:19). Goodness is a fulfilling word speaking of the state of moral goodness with absolutely no evil, prosperity, wealth, abundance, beauty, fairness, attractiveness, joy, gladness, goodness of heart… Previously, God said to Moses I know you by name, now God chooses to reveal his goodness and name to Moses. The very personal Presence of God led to the very practical Ways of God’s Presence and now the glory and goodness of God’s Presence passes in front of Moses. Moses was growing in deepening levels of God’s Presence. Hallelujah.
The Promise of His Presence
In the New Testament Jesus “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebr 1:3). All of the expressions of God within the Scriptures are nothing compared to Jesus Christ, just like all the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus. He is the light and radiance of the glory of God who “perfectly mirrors God and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words”! (The Message).
Jesus tells us in the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He is Emmanuel, God with us, who has given us “the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:13-14). The favour and goodness that Moses experienced are now available to us in Jesus Christ through the Promised Holy Spirit – God’s Presence. Wherever we go, God’s Presence goes. In other words, there is no escaping God’s favour, grace and goodness towards our lives.
Do you remember Moses saying, “If you are pleased with me”? I can tell you that if you have accepted Jesus into your life, God is pleased with you because of that decision. We may not be perfect in obedience, but we have acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Saviour and God now sees us through the life, death and sacrifice of Jesus. God has made His Presence available to us through Jesus Christ and the empowering of Holy Spirit. And just as Moses sought to grow in knowing God’s Presence, so can we put these truths into action.
The Promise of His Presence is available to us daily. It is through God’s favour and grace that we are strengthened to grow in God. We can know him intimately, we can know his ways and the right path to righteousness, and we can discover the glory of His Presence, just like Moses. Even if it looks like the odds are against you. If you are feeling overwhelmed with struggles or temptations. The Promise of His Presence is sure. We may feel guilty or ashamed, but the love and grace of God welcomes us back immediately into His Presence. Don’t let the troubles of our minds or the weight of anxiety get us down, God has promised never to leave or forsake us. At other times, maybe the devil is lying to you trying to get your thoughts off of God’s Promises. You’re a failure. You are never going to make it. What about these sins? God is not really with you. Whatever the attack of the enemy is, whatever the sin we may be struggling with – God’s Promises are bigger and better and able to carry us through into victory.
Corrie Ten Boom states, “Let God’s Promises shine on your problems.”