Scripture Passage: Exodus 33:1-3
Our purpose is to know God intimately and to enjoy Him personally; we need nothing more and should settle for nothing else. We must learn how to enjoy the presence of God, and even more importantly, how to stay in it.
In Exodus 33, Moses has interceded for the nation of Israel. In response, God promises His protection and provision, but not His presence; He will not be with them.
Adrian Rogers says, “It is frightening to have success, possessions, and protection but not the presence of the Lord.”
There are several reasons God withdrew His presence from His people.
The Holy Spirit gives us the assurance of our salvation. When we knowingly and willingly disobey God, we grieve the Holy Spirit and quench Him. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:19.) If we are experiencing estrangement from the presence of God, we must first be assured that there is no unconfessed sin in our lives.
The people of Israel rejected a direct command of God, and as a result, their devotion was divided. Some of the nation committed the sin of idolatry.
We must remember: anything we love, fear, serve, or trust more than God is an idol. God demands preeminence and He will take nothing less. And in examining our hearts, we should see if anyone or anything has taken precedence over God.
Moses also detected the people’s displaced dependence; they had placed complete trust and dependence on the work of their hands. This betrayed the One who had brought them through the Red Sea, provided for, and protected them.
When we begin to depend upon our own ingenuity, wit, and wisdom, we fail to give God the glory and, ultimately, fail ourselves.
Finally, Israel maintained its determined defiance.
“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3).
Being stiff-necked is the opposite of being meek and pliable; God was inferring that Israel was no longer leadable or teachable. We must remember that when God gives us a specific revelation, we must obey Him.
Is God real to you? Examine your heart today: is there any direct disobedience, divided devotion, displaced dependence, or determined defiance?