God tells Moses, "I will not go with you, for they are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy them on the way." Moses has a bold and surprising response to God. What does he pray? How does God respond? And what does that have to do with you and me? #thedirtpathsermonpodcast #podcast #thedirtpathpastor #ravnaz #showmeyourface #faceofgod #moses #listen #prayer #exodus #sermon
This sermon #1 in a 3 part series titled "Show me your face."
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**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**
SHOW ME YOUR FACE
Part 1 of 3: Go with us
Text: Exodus 33:12-17
I believe God still calls song writers. Our world needs more believers to answer that call, and we should encourage and empower those who are faithfully answering that call. Now, there is nothing wrong with the hymns. And I firmly think there is a place in the church for both.
One of my favorite songs in the Church is a hymn. One that is not done very often. It is titled “Arise, My Soul Arise,” written by Charles Wesley, brother of well-known theologian John Wesley. My favorite verse is the fifth which says:
My God is reconciled
His pardoning voice I hear
He owns me for His child
I shall no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh
With confidence I now draw nigh
And Father, Abba, Father, cry
That verse tells us that as Christians we have no need to fear approaching God’s throne. We can have confidence of a child coming to their father with a request. In our passage today, as we begin a new series, we will see Moses exercise such boldness in prayer.
READING OF THE TEXT
12 Moses said to the LORD, “Look, you have told me, ‘Lead this people up,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor with me.’ 13 Now if I have indeed found favor with you, please teach me your ways, and I will know you, so that I may find favor with you, Now consider that this nation is your people.” 14 And he replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 “If your presence does not go,” Moses responded to him, “don’t make us go up from here. 16 How will it be known that I and your people have found favor with you unless you go with us? I and your people will be distinguished by this from all the other people on the face of the earth.” 17 The LORD answered Moses, “I will do this very thing you have asked, for you have found favor with me, and I know you by name.” (CSB)
Before we get into Moses’ bold request, it is important to know the context. God is calling Moses to lead the Israelites away from Mount Sinai, where they have been in God’s presence and received God’s law. A place of spiritual formation.
In verse 3 of this chapter, God tells Moses, “I will not go with you because you are a stiff-necked people; otherwise, I might destroy you on the way.” While important things happened at Mount Sinai, great sin also took place. Moses is receiving the law from God and the people are breaking the first commandments listed by worshiping a golden calf.
God is holy, sin cannot survive in His presence. If He goes with them, should the Israelites rebel, His presence will consume them. This is not God refusing to go because He is mean or done with the Israelites. He is doing this as an act of love and mercy.
Moses makes a bold request
In response to God saying, “I will not go with you,” Moses speaks to God in verse 12. Moses says, “Look, you have told me to lead these people out of here.” As God’s servant, Moses wants to know who is going to lead him. He wants to know where the Israelites are going and who would show him how ot get them there.
Moses is admitting in verses 12 and 13 that without God, he is not qualified or capable of the assignment. It was God who called Moses, and the Israelites were God’s people. How is a man supposed to lead God’s people without God? If God knows all this, and He does, Moses is boldly asking God to be responsible for His people.
God responds in verse 14, “My presence will go with you.” Moses’ bold request is answered by God with, “Yes, I will go.”
Moses pleads for assurance
God has already responded to Moses’ bold request. But Moses presses for assurance from God. “If your presence does not go, don’t make us go without you” is how Moses responds in verse 15. Moses is confessing to God that the task of journeying to the Promised land is impossible without God’s presence.
Moses continues in verse 16, “How will it be known that I and your people have found favor with you unless you go with us?” Not only is Moses a nobody without God’s presence, but so is the nation. Israel was a nation because of God. They were free because of God. And it was God’s presence with them that set them apart from the other nations. Moses is seeking assurance that God will not only go with him, but also with the people. If God went with them the world would know they were different.
Again, God responds in verse 17, “I will do this very thing you have asked, for you have found favor with me, and I know you by name.” God honors Moses’ request. The phrase, “I know you by name” is incredible. In this area of the world, a king would have hundreds of nobles and counselors, and would only know the names of a few. But God, the King of the Universe, knows His servant by name, and not only hears Moses’ request, but God also listens to it.
How can we have that confidence and boldness like Moses? Nazarene theologian, Leo G. Cox made this observation on this passage regarding that question. He wrote, “The one who pleads with God must first be certain of his own relation with God.”
Where we stand with God was on the mind of the apostle James when he wrote about prayer in his epistle. “The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” (James 5:16) Now this is the formula, but it points out a big problem. No one is righteous, not one person by their own doing. If no one is righteous then no one’s prayers can be effective. However, we read in Exodus 33 that Moses’ prayer was bold, confident, and effective.
It is not about me, you, or even Moses being righteous, rather it is about knowing the One who is righteous. The righteous one is described to us in Revelation. There is a moment when a scroll needs to be opened. In all of heaven there was no one worthy to open except the Lamb who was slain. Jesus is the Lamb who was slain, only He is righteous enough.
Paul says in Philippians 3, “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered a loss because of Christ. I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness based from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith.” In short, you and I are not righteous based on our effort and obedience to the law but faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus makes us righteous because Jesus is the Righteous One.
Faith in Jesus also brings us into the family of God. We become joint heirs with Him as sons and daughters of God. Because of Jesus we are made righteous and by faith we are sons and daughters. Children are not afraid of their father, or should not be. They ask boldly and confidently trusting their father will give them what they need. Jesus teaches on this in connection with prayer in Luke 11:9-13. The Righteous One told His disciples, “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Know, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Faith in Jesus is the key to boldness and confidence in prayer. Moses did not know Jesus, but he possessed the faith to know himself and God, along with God’s promises. But you and I have Jesus. So we can boldly and confidently ask for God’s presence in us, His Holy Spirit, because we are sons and daughter of the King of the Universe.