From Exodus 33-35
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
In today’s passage the LORD follows through with his resolutions against the people of Israel who have bowed down to an image. The LORD will not remain with the people.
33 The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’
2 I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
4 When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’ ” 6 Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward. (Ex 33.1-6)
‘You and the people you brought up’. As with the previous chapter the LORD continues to disown Israel and his involvement with them. However the LORD demonstrates an uneasy tolerance of them.
‘I will not go up among you’. The LORD resolves not to go with the people, explaining that if he did he would wipe them out.
The LORD will not abide sin.
7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. (Ex 33:7-11)
‘Tent of Meeting’, ‘Rise up and worship’. The tent of meeting became the place where Moses and Joshua met with the LORD. The people, rightly afraid to approach the LORD, only looked on in distant worship.
God’s people spend time in his presence.
‘Joshua would not depart from the tent’. Joshua is especially noted to spend prolonged periods of time with the LORD.
12 Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’
13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 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?” (Ex 33.12-16)
‘If I have found favor’. Relying again on the LORD’s favour.
Moses requests the LORD reveal more of himself and remain with him.
In order to remain with Moses, the LORD also has to remain with the people of Israel.
Story of Israel
The OT tells how God began to draw a special people into fellowship with himself. Enoch is described as a man who walked with God (Gn 5:22, 24). Noah, likewise, walked in communion with the Lord (6:9). And Abraham, the father of Israel, is called “the friend of God” (Jas 2:23). No OT saint had deeper fellowship with God than did Moses during his 40-day encounter with the Lord on Mt Sinai (Ex 24). Later in Israel’s history David wrote psalms that reflect a heart vitally in tune with the living God (Pss 16; 34; 40; 63). (Elwell, W.A. & Beitzel, B.J., 1988. Fellowship. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible, 1, p.789.)
Story of Jesus
Jesus highlights the need to abide in him. To spend time with him.
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (Jn 15.1-6)
Only Moses and Joshua spent time with the LORD, the rest stood apart.
We don’t have to stand apart and look on.
Jesus has torn down every barrier that separates us from spending time him. So stay in the tent.
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