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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 2
Passion For The Presence

We are talking about pursuing God's presence. We're going to start off by comparing ourselves with Moses, and compare our passion with Moses' passion, and see how we rate.

Let's look at Exodus 33, starting at verse one. "The Lord said to Moses, 'Now that you have brought these people out of Egypt, lead them to the land I solemnly promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I told them long ago that I would give this land to their descendants.'" (So far, so good!) "'And I will send an angel before you to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Theirs is a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not travel along with you, for you are a stubborn, unruly people. If I did, I would be tempted to destroy you along the way.'" Moses heard that, and said, "That's not good enough. I'm not content with an angel." He told God that this was an unacceptable alternative. And God replied, in verse 14, "I will personally go with you, Moses. I will give you rest and everything will be fine for you." That sounds like a good offer.

(By the way, you see in here one of the effects of having the presence of God -- God gives you rest. Does that sound good? Does anyone here need a nap? "Rest" here, as defined in the Hebrews chapter four, as it talks about "entering into the Lord's rest," means that I cease from my labors, and I rest in God's labors. I cease from my works and I rest in His works. I come to the realization that it's not up to me, it is up to Him. It is God's job to do His job, and I simply rest in His job and His ability to do His job, His power flowing through me. That's what "rest" means.)

So God told Moses, "I'll give you what you need to go through this, and I will be with you." That sounds like a good offer for Moses, at least. But Moses doesn't settle for this. He said No. It was not good enough for Moses to get God, he wanted ALL the people to get God's presence. In the next verse, verse 15, Moses said, "'If You won't go with US personally, don't let us move a step from this place. If You don't go with us, how will anyone ever know that Your people and I have found favor with You? How else will they know we are special and distinct from all other people on the earth?' And the Lord said to Moses, 'I will indeed do what you have asked, for you have found favor with Me, and you are My friend.'"

For a lot of people, that was a good offer. It sounded pretty good. An angel will go before you, he will drive out those people, He will give you the land. In other words, you can have the promises of God without the fullness of His presence. Does God do that? Of course He does, because He is a God who honors His promises. With or without the fullness of the presence, He will fulfill the promises He has made. He said, "I'm not going to hang around with these guys, because I'm going to be tempted to kill them. But I'm going to give you everything I promised, because I promised it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I promised it to them, and I am going to keep My word."

In other words, you can experience the blessing of God, the promises of God, without the fullness of His presence. He said, "I'm not going with you, but I'll send an angel." And Moses said, "that's not good enough for me." So Moses refused to budge without God's presence.

Moses was including everyone in his conversation with God; Moses spoke on behalf of everybody. I'm sure if they took a vote, everybody would have said, "Wait a moment, Moses, this isn't a bad deal! We get everything we were promised; we get all the blessings, we get all the goods. So what if we don't get the full measure of His presence; that is OK. We still get the goods!" I think that really depicts a lot of what the church has been like, because we're experiencing the blessings of God, the fullness of the promises He's made to us. However, the fullness of His presence isn't there. And we think, just because we've experienced the benefits of His promises, we think we have the fullness of His presence, and we think it is normal!

I like the way God said to Moses, "You've found favor with Me, and you are My friend. I'll do what you want." Wouldn't you like to have that kind of relationship with God? You talk to God, and He says, "Sure. Whatever you say! You're my friend. You're my buddy." Moses did this because he had a passion for God's presence. It was all about Him. In other words, he was saying, "I am not going into the land if I don't have You, because I can have all of the land, but if I don't have You, I have nothing." He was revealing his motive -- his motive was the Presence. The motive isn't the possession. The motive isn't the blessing. He would not be satisfied with anything less than God's presence.

Who led the people of Israel after Moses? Joshua. What similarities do you find with Joshua and Moses? They both had a passion for His presence. Moses would go spend time with God; the cloud would descend upon Moses in the tabernacle in the wilderness. There was Moses, encountering God. And when the cloud lifted, Moses came out and his face was glowing because he had experienced the glory of the Lord. But who rushed back over to where God was? Joshua. Everybody else was out listening to Moses, but Joshua was running to where God's presence was.

When Moses went up to the mountain, Joshua went with him, and went just as far as he could go. Moses said, "You'd better stop right here." And he went up to the mountain. The one who was right there at the very place at the foot of the mountain was Joshua. And that's who God used, God chose, to lead His people. Why? Because God could trust him; because he wasn't after the possession, he was after the Presence.

Are we getting the correlation? A lot of things that we want, we are asking God for what we want. It might be that God might just give them to us when our wants change, when we're not wanting the benefits of the promise, but we're just wanting the fullness of His presence. Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." There's a procedure here; there's a process; and there is so much to be gained from His presence.

But not everybody shared Moses' excitement about the presence of the Lord. In fact, the people that he led didn't have the same excitement when God had told Moses to instruct them to get ready for a visitation in Exodus 19:10-13. God's direction to Moses went something like this:

"I want you to get all the people, gather them together, bring them to the edge of the mountain, get ready for this -- prepare themselves for a couple of days and make things right. Then come to the edge of the mountain, and set up a kind of fence, a boundary so they don't cross over, because if they get on the other side I just might kill them, so let's keep them back on this side of it. So they were staying on this side, and He said, 'Because I'm going to reveal Myself, and show My people My Glory.'"

The people were not so excited about God's presence. In fact, they were terrified by it, and asked Moses to act as a go-between for them between God and themselves, lest His presence kill them. But when Moses went up the mountain to meet with the Lord on their behalf, they forgot all of their terror. They forgot their covenant to worship only God and be His people. They got tired of waiting for Moses to return and made an idol, a golden calf. These people were not serious with God, and they provoked Him to anger. That is why God did not want to go with them. But Moses would not accept God's decision and pleaded with Him to change His mind and accompany them. God listened to Moses and agreed to come.

Right after Moses had this encounter with God, you would think that would be enough, right? God said, "OK, I'll go with you; and I'll go with the people." All of us would say, "Hey, that's good enough for me."

Was that good enough for Moses? The answer is, No. It goes on to say this: then Moses had one more request, recorded in Exodus 33:19. "One more thing, God. Oh, by the way, please let Me see your glorious presence."

Let's read on (Exodus 33:20-23):

The Lord replied, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name 'the Lord' to you. I will show kindness to anyone I choose, and I will show mercy to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at My face, for no one may see Me and live." The Lord continued, "Stand here on this rock beside Me. As My glorious presence passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed. Then I will remove My hand, and you will see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen." NLT

Moses pushed the envelope. Most of us would have stopped. We would have been satisfied. But he wasn't. God said, "OK, I'll go with you." He said, "Good, but one more thing. I want to see You as much as I can see You." When the Lord said to him, "You may not look directly at Me, for no one may see Me and live," that might have deterred me. I might have said, "OK, well, we don't have to do this." But he pushed in. It's like he did not care, because what pushed him was his pursuit of the Presence. It was who he was. Moses was hungry for God's presence.

What about us? Are we anything close to that hungry for God?

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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