This sermon was preached by Colin Baron at the Christ Church Manchester Weekend Away 2019.
This sermon was based on Exodus 33:1-23
The Command to Leave Sinai
1The 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.’ 2I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3Go 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.”
4When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5For 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.'” 6Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The Tent of Meeting
7Now 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.
8Whenever 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. 9When 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. 10And 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. 11Thus 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.
12Moses 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.’ 13Now 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.” 14And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16For 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?”
17And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
- After Moses had met with God, the people had turned away with the Golden Calf.
- God still would keep his covenant and help the people get into the Promised Land – he would send a powerful angel to go with them.
- Though God would send an angel, the bombshell is that he wouldn’t go with them himself.
- Sometimes we can be happy with many good things, but they are a waste of time if God is not present.
- When the people heard this they destroyed the jewellery. This was an appropriate response as it was the jewellery that had been used in their idolatry.
- Moses was not satisfied for going if God would not be there! – Nor should we be.
- We are speaking of the manifest presence of God – this is when God’s presence is particularly tangible. We know that God is omnipresent.
- God agrees to keep meeting with Moses, but Moses pushes further. He wants the presence of God to be with all of the people.