“For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16, NASB).
These are the words Moses spoke to God when he interceded for the Israelites after they had crafted a golden calf to worship while Moses was on Mt. Sinai for forty days receiving the Ten Commandments and other instructions from God. So, God threatened to send the Israelites into the promised land with only an angel to lead them and without His presence among them.
Moses objects that an angel is not a satisfactory substitute for God’s presence since the Israelites are God’s people. Moses’ argument is that God’s presence must be with God’s people and if God is not going to lead them into the promised land then He may as well just leave them in the desert.
In a heartfelt appeal to God’s loving nature, Moses implores God to let him know Him intimately. Moses inquires how can he can receive God’s grace if He doesn’t know God personally. And how can he know God personally if He does not know God’s plans and purposes: “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in your sight” (vs. 13).
God relents and agrees to be with the Israelites and lead them because He has already shown His favor to Moses and the people of Israel (vs. 17). But Moses still wants more. He wants to know God intimately: “I pray you, show me Your glory!” (vs. 18).
God agrees to give Moses only a glimpse of His glory since Moses would die if God completely revealed Himself (His “face,” vs. 20). So, Moses again treks up Mt. Sinai to obtain a second copy of the Ten Commandments from God. (Moses had thrown down and shattered the first set of stone tablets in frustration upon discovering the idolatry of the Israelites-see vs. 32:19.) This time while Moses is on Mt. Sinai and the Lord descends in a cloud, He puts Moses in a crevice in the rocks and covers him so that Moses can only see God’s back as He is passing by (vs. 33:21-23; 34:6).
To me, this powerful, inspiring Old Testament story reveals that God is a winsome God. He desires the friendship and fellowship of the humanity He created so He extends His favor to them in order to have a personal and intimate relationship with human beings.
Moses understood that God’s presence was what distinguished His people from all other people in the world. And where God’s presence dwelled, His favor, His grace, also dwelled. Moses also understood that to know God, to know Him intimately, one must understand God’s plans and purposes and then follow the path that God leads him or her on.
So, if you want to know God or know God better, the question you must answer for yourself is, “Where is God leading you?” The destination is the same for each of us though the road we follow to get there may be different. God is leading us closer to Himself!
What Moses knew was that God was leading him and the Israelites closer to God Himself! Moses knew that it was God’s presence dwelling in the midst of the camp of the Israelites that would lead and guide them to the promised land.
God’s will, His will for your life, is to lead you closer to Himself. You are one His favored people if His presence, His Holy Spirit, dwells in you. And He will reveal Himself, His character, His nature, to you personally if you will be led by His indwelling Spirit!
Sure, He may lead you through the desert. He may lead you into some battles. But will He lead you to victory! He will lead you to the promised land! He will lead you to the place where He constantly and eternally dwells with you!
God is leading you to Himself, to a closer, personal, intimate relationship with Himself!
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14, NASB)