Scripture Reading: Exodus 33:1-17
For me, one of the most encouraging things to read about in the Bible is when people meet with God. It’s amazing to me that God not only met with people in the Bible, but that He also wants to meet with us.
One of those biblical meetings occurs in the middle of Exodus chapter 33, which describes how Moses would often meet with God.
“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting.’ Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent” (Exodus 33:7-11).
This passage is tucked in the midst of a very difficult time in the life of the Israelites. God was really angry with them for what they had just done, by turning away from Him. After dealing with their sin, God told them to go ahead of Him into the promised land. Then God added, “But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way” (Exodus 33:3b).
The people were distressed to hear this. So Moses did again what was apparently something he had been doing already on a regular basis. He went out to meet with God in the “tent of meeting.”
I think many of us go through times when we feel like God is really close to us, then go through other times when we feel He is far from us. There are many reasons for this kind of ebb and flow in our relationship with God. But I know for me, if God seems distant, I want to make sure it isn’t because I have become “stiff-necked,” like God described had happened to the people in this passage. I want to make sure my neck is well-lubricated, and fully turned towards Him.
I remember an author who described a time in his own life when he was feeling empty in the things he was doing for God. He realized that he was using his own skills and abilities more and more to serve God, but relying on God less and less. In order to regain His full reliance on God to do what God had called him to do, he realized he needed to turn back to God again in a personal relationship that was real and vibrant.
As part of his personal renewal, he made a commitment to himself to write out his dialog with God daily, filling at least one page of a notebook per day. By intentionally carving out time to be with God again, he was able to recapture the joy and fullness of serving Him.
We don’t have to deliberately sin to feel like God is distant. But sometimes through our busy-ness, laziness, or plain neglect, we can find ourselves farther and farther from the one true relationship that matters most: our relationship with God.
God wants to meet with us. And when we put our faith in Christ, God promises to send His Holy Spirit to not only meet with us, but to live within us (see Romans 8:11), and to speak with us, too:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13).
God wants to meet with you, too. Take time to meet with Him today.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.