“And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For 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?’ And 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'” (Exodus 33:15-17, ESV).
The backstory of these verses is that while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments and other instructions from God, at the base of the mountain the Israelites had fashioned a golden calf to worship as their god, thinking Moses had abandoned them.
When Moses came down from the mountain he was so enraged that he threw down the Ten Commandment tablets and smashed them. Futhermore, God was ready to rid Himself of the Israelites. He told Moses to go ahead and lead the people to the promised land but He would no longer accompany them with His presence. Instead, God would send an angel to lead Moses and the Israelites into the land.
Moses was not satisfied with that plan and in these verses Moses implored God not to abandon His people. Moses begged God to reconsider and to go with him and the people of Israel to the promised land.
Moses declares that it is only God’s abiding presence with the Israelites that makes them distinct from all other people on the earth!
In the following verses (vs. 17-19) Moses requests to see God’s glory to reaffirm His presence with the people of Israel and God agrees to pass before Moses. Moses wanted to continue experiencing a “face-to-face” with God.
Moses understood that where God ‘s presence was, that was where God wanted to do good, to act favorably. And, God’s presence was a mark of distinction indicating that God’s people received His favor.
Today, the Holy Spirit is God’s presence with us. The Holy Spirit manifests God’s presence among His people by dwelling in them and empowering them, individually and collectively.
Because God wants to have a personal relationship with us–a “face-to-face”–He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s mark of distinction on those with whom He wants to have a personal relationship and those to whom He wants to show His favor.
The indwelling Holy Spirit makes God personal to us.
The indwelling Holy Spirit identifies us with Christ.
The indwelling Holy Spirit makes us people of distinction.
When God abides with you by His Spirit, you are no longer a citizen of this world, you are a citizen of the world to come.
And, that makes you a person of distinction!
“It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, HCSB).