And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."Exodus 33:14(NASB)
Having been redeemed from Egypt and passed through the Red Sea, the Israelites set off on their journey to the Promised Land. God provided manna from heaven to sustain them and water from the rock, yet the people complained and murmured against the Lord. Nevertheless, God in His grace revealed Himself at Mount Sinai through thunder, lightning, and dense cloud.
The Lord then instructed Moses to climb up the Holy Mountain where he would receive the perfect Law of God, on behalf of His chosen people. The Law, given to Moses, would outline God's Covenant with Israel. Not only did He give Moses the 10 commandments, but He also gave him many additional laws and statutes covering a wide range of civil and religious rituals, together with food, health, property, and other social requirements.
The Lord instructed Moses on religious observances, the right way to make sacrificial offerings, and the correct way to keep certain statutory feast days, festivals, rites, and rituals. Moses also received a blueprint for the earthly Tabernacle, in which God would meet with His people... together with all the religious requirements of the high priest's office and the Levitical priesthood who would act as mediators between God and His chosen people.
The Lord even identified the craftsmen who would construct and decorate the Tabernacle and detailed the pieces of furniture that would be used in their worship services. Finally, Moses was instructed on how to keep God's Sabbath day requirement which was to be an everlasting sign between God and His people. After his wonderful encounter with the Lord, Moses descended the mountain to present Israel with the two tablets of stone which were inscribed with the terms of the covenant and written by the very finger of God.
Despite all the miraculous things that transpired, the people of Israel grew weary of waiting for Moses during his encounter on the mountain, and so using gold jewellery and other ornaments they had plundered from Egypt, they urged Aaron to fashion a golden calf for them to worship, and began to make merry, saying, "This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!"
It was then that the Lord told Moses, "Go down at once, for your people have corrupted themselves, and made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshipped it and have sacrificed to it." Then The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation."
Israel's shocking display of degeneracy, obstinacy, and unbelief, caused God's furious anger to burn against them, and although He had pledged to give Israel their Promised Land... the Lord tested Moses by telling him, "I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite... so go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way."
Although they were a stubborn and rebellious people, Israel started to repent of their ungodly behaviour and Moses was also distressed to think of God destroying His redeemed people and transferring His blessing to Moses, and his descendants. Moses knew that the destruction of Israel would discredit the Lord's character before their Egyptian enemies. It would break the unconditional promise He made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Israel. And so we find this godly man interceding for his stiff-necked brethren and pleading for God's mercy and grace.
Moses pleaded with the Lord that if he had found favour in God's eyes, He would not cut off His people Israel, but accompany them into their Promised Land. And the Lord graciously replied, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."
Moses had been faced with a tremendous challenge and interceded with boldness on behalf of his people. With every fibre of his being, Moses knew that without the Lord, their journey into Canaan would be futile and their lives would be fruitless. He knew that Israel's continuing relationship with God was of greater value than every square inch of the Promised Land - for, without the Lord, life would be meaningless. And Moses also knew that if Israel failed to go and enter the land, God's name would be disgraced and His character dishonoured among their pagan's neighbours.
Moses' heart's desire was that God's presence would be with them and that the Lord would be glorified through His people. Moses knew the importance of unbroken communion with God and the serious consequences of being out of fellowship with his heavenly Lord.
I wonder if we care as deeply for our brothers and sisters in Christ who cause us pain as Moses did for Israel. I wonder if we would intercede so passionately for others who wronged us or defend the character of God with such fervour. I wonder if when tested like Moses, we would be prepared to put aside our own welfare to defend the integrity of God and for the benefit of others. I wonder if we have the same intense love for our Lord Jesus and as deep a desire to maintain sweet fellowship with Him as we see in the life of Moses.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a God Who is faithful and true and Who has promised to be with us as we journey through life and give us Your rest - just as You did for Your people, Israel. Thank You for the godly example of Moses who was jealous for the honour of Your name and was quick to intercede for Your people when they became obstinate and stiff-necked. Thank You that I have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to lead and to guide me through the journey of life, and thank You, Father, that my rest and redemption is secure in Christ Jesus my Lord, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.