“And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.” – Exodus 33:1-3
From worshiping the golden calf and giving their idols and even the works of their own hands the credit for what God had done, to constantly murmuring against the will of God, to always resisting and messing up the plan and path of God, to doubting the majesty and abilities of God, to even repeatedly readying themselves to kill Moses (the messenger of God); the Israelites had a knack for making God mad. Very mad. So much so that God actually got to the point where He decided it was best that He separate Himself from them less His anger overtake Him and in a moment of fury, He destroy them all.
Here lies several amazing realities. For one, it shows that God’s mercy is not limitless but His faithfulness is. He had promised the fathers of this people that this land would be given to their descendants and God is not a man that He should lie, His word can not return void but will accomplish what it set out to do. Therefore, for the sake of His Holy Name He was going to honor His promise even though this people did not deserve to receive it. They would get the physical rewards of the promise but not the Spiritual ones for He decided to separate Himself from them. This Holy God could no longer stand to walk amongst this unholy, selfish, prideful, and arrogant congregation. He would give them what they wanted but they would loose what they needed… Him.
I have seen this happen to so many Christians as individuals, and to ministries as a whole. They start out good, they get a promise, they start off toward that promise with excitement, then they don’t get there as quickly as they’d like so they start trying to take matters into their own hands. They begin murmuring against God’s will, resisting God’s plan and path and search out their own, turn against those speaking God’s council, and eventually start worshiping the works of their own hands. They blaspheme the Wisdom, Sovereignty, Majesty, Power, and Holiness of the true God in the name of a powerless god of their own making until the true God is so angered and sickened by it all, that He departs. His promises to the faithful father’s before them still stand therefor you may see the resemblance of blessings on their lives or ministries, coupled with the Devils lies and tricks, but only for a season. For sin is pleasurable for a season, but after that, death in an instant, because the Lord is not with them. Just like King Saul.
O but old Moses. He knew that without the presence of God they were no different then the world. So he determined that he would not go if God didn’t go with him, not into prosperity, not into fame, not into victory, not even into promise. You can have all the money, all the possessions, all the attention, all the glory of men, and all the appearance of spiritual victory, and you can give all the credit for it to the works of your own hands or to a god of your own making, but if the presence of God is not with you, you are no different then the world and the world knows it.
“And he (Moses) said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” – Exodus 33:15-16
Though he could have had the titles, prestige, and rewards of taking the promise alone, Moses chose to stay in the wilderness, sit in a tent, and talk to God. Because he was unwilling to trade the presence of God for all the rewards this world had to offer, God’s heart was touched, His anger fled, and His presence remained with them.
“And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” – Exodus 33:14
Don’t trade the presence of God for anything. It is truly the only thing that the world see in your life or ministry that makes it any different then what they see in the world. Don’t drive a Holy God out of your life or ministry by creating an unholy environment that He cannot stand to inhabit. Don’t ever except opportunities, riches, resources, rewards, victories, or promises if God doesn’t come with them. Nothing is worth loosing the tangible presence of God in your life or ministry. Stay where God is until He tells you to move, and more importantly, that He is moving with you. No matter what it cost or how long it takes. Stay where God is. No matter what you stand to gain, titles, prestige, platforms, money, rewards, renown, without the presence of God, it’s no different then what you left in Egypt.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” – Hebrews 11:24-26
Remember that He is the true reward, not what He gives you, but He Himself. Why would any man of wisdom leave the greatest reward for the promise of lesser rewards? Cling to the presence of God. Don’t trade it for anything. It’s worth more. Don’t leave it for anything. It’s worth more. Don’t loose it for anything. It’s worth more. This is what Moses knew. It’s worth more.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45-46