Faithlife Sermons

Moses, the "Friend" of God

Exodus   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:53
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AT this point in our narrative, Israel does know for sure what happens next. God had told them He would not go with them. This was for their safety because they had sinned a great sin and God was angry. Yes, they had repented of their sin. They had removed the ornaments from their bodies just as the LORD had commanded and now they wait to see what God will do.
The resolution of the tension here comes later in this chapter. But we have a short discussion found in verses 7-11 that many Bible scholars think is out of place. The truth is that what comes next belongs here right where the Holy Spirit put it. And it is important to note that verses 7-11 begins to resolve the problem. How? These verses show that there was at least one man who could come into God’s presence.

1. Meeting with God outside the camp, 33:7-11.

Before the tabernacle was constructed, Moses had his own private tent of meeting. The Tabernacle inner structure would be called “the Tent of Meeting,” as another place to meet with God. The difference was that the Tabernacle was to stand in the center of the encampment. Moses’ pitched the tent described here “a good distance” outside the camp. Its distance was due to the Israelites still being under divine judgment. The camp was still a place of sin, and God said He would not dwell in it. For the time being, if they wanted to meet with God, they had to go outside the camp. They had been separated from God by their sin.
However God had not entirely abandoned them The tent of meeting was an alternative place to meet with God. At this pitched tent, amazing things happened. When Moses would leave the camp and walk to the tent of meeting, the people would stand and follow Moses with their eyes from a distance. They observed their mediator as he went to meet with God. Then when Moses entered the tent, a pillar of cloud would come down from heaven and cover the entrance. This theophany, a visible manifestation of the glorious presence of God, showed the people that Moses was meeting with God. Then the people would worship, each at his own tent.
Inside the tent of meeting, Moses spoke with God! This time God, in grace, was condescending to communicate with his prophet. God spoke to Moses “face to face, just as a man speaks to a friend.” The term “face to face” is a figure of speech emphasizing that God and Moses enjoyed direct communication. Here Moses had immediate access to God , a level of intimacy that no human being on earth had experienced since the day that God banished Adam and Eve from the garden. Moses and God were friends.
There was still hope for Israel; after all, God was still talking to their mediator. There was a place outside the camp where God still met with Moses. Anyone who wanted to know God’s will could approach the tent of meeting, talk things over with Moses, and then wait while Moses inquired of God. This limited form of contact was still an extraordinary privilege for the people.
As Christians, we do not have to stay at a distance. Believers in Christ have immediate access to God through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 3:16–17 NASB95
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
Eph. 3:16-17 tell us that we are the place of God’s dwelling; we have direct communication with Almighty God since the moment we received Jesus into our hearts by faith.
When we become a Christian, God comes into our lives in a whole new way. He is with us all the time and we have constant communication with Him. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us as a friend to a friend, His Spirit applying the word directly to our minds and hearts. When we pray, we are speaking back to God, telling Him how much we love Him, confessing our sins, sharing our worries, talking over our problems and asking for His help. This is what it is means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—to be in direct and constant communication with Almighty God.
Since God is with us and within us, we know that He will never leave us or forsake us wherever we go. Jesus promised His disciples, Matt. 28:20
Matthew 28:20 NASB95
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
You see, God never abandons His friends. He has invested far to much in this friendship to abandon us .
John 15:13 NASB95
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:14–15 NASB95
“You are My friends if you do what I command you. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
In Christ, we are not only friends, we are family!

2. Inside the tent of meeting, 33:12-23

Now we read of the exchange between the LORD and Moses. This exchange is closely related to Moses’ intercession recorded in Chapter 32.

A. Moses’ First Plea, vs. 12-13.

In these verses we see Moses’ petition for himself. He appeals to God to let him know His ways. His reason is “that I may know You,” similar to Paul’s quest in Philippians 3:10.
Philippians 3:10 NASB95
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
Moses also longs to find grace (favor) in God’s sight, to have power with Him for His purposes, to be usable.
Moses also Intercedes for his people. First, Moses is concerned over which people will go, i.e. who will survive with him and who will fail to go on due to discipline. Second, He is burdened for God to remember them as His people.

B. God’s Responds to Moses’ Plea, v. 14.

This is clear-cut, in two details. First, the LORD promises Moses His accompanying Presence. Second, He promises Moses His assuring peace. His grace to Moses himself, by responding to his petition, is evident in the end of verse 12, as well as in 14.

C. Moses’ Second Plea, vs. 15, 16.

Moses has a heartfelt desire for God’s presence, as seen in verse 15. Moses has his values straight. If God will not show His presence going with the people, Moses does not care to go. God’s presence is the priority. So all believers, in prayer, should long to see God’s presence in the way they go!
Then Moses argues for God’s presence in verse 16. Moses yearns to see, as he has already seen, God’s miraculous displays along the way. This is crucial in a couple of ways, which are keys for him. One is that God’s powerful presence will show His vindication of Moses’ leadership and acceptance of the people. The other is that such clear-cut manifestations of God’s blessing will mark Israel as distinct from all other peoples on the face of the earth.

D. God’s pledge to Moses’ prevailing prayer, v. 17.

The Lord gives His pledge (promise) of His presence to demonstrate that this people is special among peoples. He does this in responding to Moses’ prevailing prayer.
This, God says, is the human reason or means He is using for giving the blessing. Prayer of a right kind has power with Him! At the same time, of course, His own prior will and plan included blessing the covenant people (Gen. 12:1–3; etc.). As He so often makes clear, He works His will in His servants. They plead His will and involve themselves passionately in it.

E. Moses’ Third Plea, v. 18.

Moses then asks for the LORD’s confirming of His pledge. God’s positive response will help Moses’ confidence if God grants this guarantee of His presence now. “Show me your glory.”

F. God’s confirming answer, vs. 19–23.

To encourage Moses, the Lord does three things here.
1) First is the passing of His glory by Moses. He does not show Moses a full, direct look at His glorious being, for no man can see this glory face to face and live through such a breath-taking experience. He does show him His presence in another sense, letting him see Him from behind, in some less direct manifestation of His light.
2) Second is the proclaiming of His name. This name, the Lord of powerful covenant exploits to help His people, the name the patriarchs did not know (6:3), would be a great boost to Moses after 3,000 died and he had been pleading for God to go with them.
2) Third is the proffering of His grace and mercy. God promises it in 33:19 and proclaims it in 34:6, 7. He shows compassion, as in forgiving abundantly, yet no man can take wrong advantage of Him for He brings sin to an accounting.

3. Principles to consider

In closing, let’s consider some principles for us to reflect on.
1) What a privilege to feel a burden that drives one to pray for people who are very dear to God and to us as intercessors.
2) One prayer appeal can follow another—this prayer traffic will never overload God.
3) Proper prayer, knitted to people and to God, will plead in line with heart goals that are the passion of God’s own intents.
4) The Lord is pleased when the servant who love Him beseeches Him to manifest His presence.
John 14:21–23 NASB95
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
Finally, 5) we can ask big things of a big God a far bigger plan than we can imagine.
Jeremiah 33:3 NASB95
‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
Jer 32;17
Jeremiah 32:27 NASB95
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
Jeremiah 32:27 NASB95
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
Our God can do the seemingly hard things just as readily as the seemingly relatively easy things. Let us follow the example of Moses as we seek God’s will, tenacious in our seeking for God to move on behalf of His people and trusting in His promises to do so when it is in accordance with His will.
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