SOAP Journal – 17 January 2017 (Exodus 33:15)

Then [Moses] said to [God], “If Your presence does not go [with us], do not lead us up from here.”

Exodus 33:15

This verse is a portion of Moses’ intercession on behalf of the Israelites. His prayer is fascinating to me. He begins with a restatement of God’s commission to him (v 12) and its current state. God told Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and Moses notes that God has said He will send an angel (messenger) with them, but has not identified the messenger. God then says that His presence will go with the Israelites (v 14). Which brings the prayer up to the verse I am going to focus in on this morning. What follows this verse is Moses saying that God’s presence with them is the only way that anyone will know that the Israelites are God’s chosen people (v 16).  Then (vv 17-23) Moses asks God to show him (Moses) His (God’s) glory and is told that he cannot see it fully, but will be permitted to see what he can handle.

The whole prayer time of Moses that is recorded in this passage (and on into the next chapter) is beautiful and could easily have books written on it (and probably has). But the part that impacted me this morning is this morning’s verse.

The life of a believer, now as then, is marked not by the words we say (anyone can sound holy) or the deeds we do (atheists can do good works) but by the presence of God in our lives. I am not saying that good words and good works are without value. The words of a believer should be glorifying to God. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we should speak the truth in love. The book of Proverbs has much to say on the value of good words and James comments that taming the tongue means we can discipline every aspect of our lives. Our words should be pure and holy. And our actions should follow suit. Jesus did say that we would know people by their fruits. So actions and words can be indicators. But fruit, as has been noted by wiser minds than mine, is not something that is brought forth laboriously. An apple tree does not grunt and groan and sweat sap to produce apples. The fruit comes as a by-product of the tree being a fruit tree. Likewise, it is God working in my life that marks me, not any effort that I might make.

I recently received word that my family and I must leave the place we have lived for almost seven years. We have some time, the day we must be gone is not for a couple of months. But the options available are less than inspiring. The places we are considering are okay, as far as they go, but the cost to live in places that do not really inspire us leave us feeling overwhelmed. There is a very real sense of not wanting to go unless God’s presence goes with us. And that is the comfort of this verse this morning.

Moses prayed that God would not lead them anywhere else unless God’s presence went with them. God had promised and Moses was banking on that promise. Jesus promised never to leave us or forsake us, so we bank on His promise to be with us. I do not know what that means as far as living situation. I do not know what that means with regard to timing. I only know that the One Who promised is Good and that He loves my family and me. While I am overwhelmed with a lack of enthusiasm about the options I see before me, He sees beyond my horizon and on into things I cannot know. He goes with us and we will not go unless He does.

Father, thank You for this reminder that Your promises are sure. Moses banked on Your promise and did not want the Israelites to budge unless You went with them. Lord, I do not want my family to budge until You have shown us the place to which You want us to go. If You do not lead, we do not want to go.

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