Exodus 33: 12-16 “Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
In Exodus 32 when Moses has been gone for a while and the people start to worry they turn to Aaron and ask to make a golden calf so they will have something to go before them and something that they can follow. As a result there is a plague and Moses pleads with God for His presence and in Exodus 33:14 we have these reassuring words of rest “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Peace is always a product of God’s presence but just like the children of Israel we too can seek idols and try to find peace in their presence. Rest is a result of relationship with the Redeemer yet so often God’s children trade real rest for results. Several years ago Rick Warren wrote the book the “purpose driven life” it was a great book in which he explained that we are here for a purpose and this purpose should motivate and move our lives. What I find fascinating about Moses is that He desire God’s presence more than purpose. Why, because when we have God’s presence the purpose will follow in place. I am not slamming the purpose driven life or saying that purpose is not important, I am saying it’s not primary it’s secondary. I think today Christians have forgotten they are first and foremost followers of God, this means that the priority must be placed on His presence. I am purposing in my heart to seek His presence above His purpose. We have traded a relationship for results; in our mad dash to chase after the product (peace) we have left His presence. Is it any wonder that we are worn out, we can’t rest today because we are too busy working for that idol that will bring us “peace” from its presence! We shake our heads at the sheer stupidity of trading God for a golden calf yet we do it every day. What are you trading for His presence? What if they had just waited on God instead of working on the gold? They would have gotten to relax and rest, what if we would wait on God, I mean really wait on God? I think it’s more about a presence driven life than a purpose driven life. What does it mean to be “Presence driven” you ask? Well if the President of the United States were coming to your town then there would be a protocol in place because of his presence. What would be done would be driven because and by His presence. Moses was a presence driven man, He responded based on relationship, purpose was a result of presence. He was so presence driven that he would not move without the presence of God, in Exodus 33:15-16 Moses said: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Moses asks several great questions that reveal the power of God’s presence:
- How will anyone know that you are pleased with us unless you go with us?
- What else will distinguish your people from others?
Here Moses reminds us of our purpose to reflect God to the world yet even this is still secondary to the primary issue, the presence of God. Moses knew it was the presence of God that separated them from all the other people. That it was the presence of God that made all the difference and nothing else would matter! Moses knew the presence of God would guide them better than just a purpose. What happens when we chase purpose and forget presence is that we get the cart before the horse and then we wonder why it’s so hard to push. God’s purpose was never meant to be pushed but pulled along by His presence. Moses knew God’s purpose was to move the people from slavery to singing yet He could not drive them. These were the hardest bunch of hard-heads on the planet, kind of like you and me. They had to be led and that could only be accomplished by the Lord, His presence. Without the presence of God we try to do it by force and flesh. What was it that guided them? It was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. It was the presence of God not the power of Moses. God’s presence moved His people day in and day out. What was it that governed the people? God – His commandments that were given to Moses in the presence of God. What was it that fed the people? God – His manna from heaven. Who was it that clothed them? God – in His presence their clothes or shoes never wore out. Purpose is good but when has it ever led you, fed you and clothed you? Today many in their desire to be purpose driven have left His presence and when we leave His presence we forgo His peace, His protection and His provision. If you seek His purpose it sounds good but it’s not primary, it is with His presence that His purpose is accomplished. To be presence driven is to be move by Him and with Him and God promises that His presence will bring peace; rest is the result of relationship. How does it bring rest, we stop striving and start surrendering, we don’t have to sweat and work to have idols to follow, we have the Father. In I Corinthians 1:29 Paul reminds us that “no flesh should glory in His presence” we need His presence for in His presence we find His pleasure not ours. What is it that you desire, what do you seek most purpose or presence?