One distinctive factor of God throughout the Bible is His Presence. You see it throughout the Old Testament where God was present in the Tabernacle, the Temple, and in guiding His people by a cloud by day and fire by night. Moses said some interesting things about God's presence:
Exodus 33:12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people, ‘but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.”
Moses was quite aware that the task of leading people isn’t easy. It is never easy leading people even in the simplest of things. Every person has opinions, and those opinions usually are always better (so it is thought) than what the leader is doing to lead. Everyone has a better idea, a criticism, or a judgment about the direction of any organization. If you are the leader, you instantly become the target of the people’s frustration. The hardest part of leading others is the constant criticism that must be endured. No wonder Moses wanted to have others to help share the responsibility to lead these people.
Exodus 33:14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Having the assurance that God is leading beside you gives you the strength and the courage to face everything, including the criticism formed around opinions.
Exodus 33 15Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
There it is!
His presence distinguishes His people from everyone else on earth. The one factor no other religion teaches is that God’s presence goes with us. Moses was so concerned about knowing God would accompany him on the journey, that he did not want God to move them into the unknown. The fact that God accompanies us as we are facing unknown territory of new jobs, the loneliness of the loss of a loved one, the news of a newly diagnosed disease, the confusing nature of society, and the controversial task of leading people. If God is with us, nothing is impossible for us to face. Moses knew that the unknown is much more palatable when God is leading you.
What about you? What unknown journeys are you facing? Life is filled with them. If you are a leader, every day you are faced with decisions you will make that someone will not like and you will take the heat for it. There are many unknown territories that you will face in life, and unless God goes with you the journey may be more than you can bear.
I am sure this was Moses’s concern. He had already been through the Exodus from Egypt, but the unknown was even more stressful. Even the people felt it would be better for them to return to Egypt because there they knew what to expect. Is that where you are at today in your life? Would you rather keep with the known, rather than face the uncertainties of the unknown?
Most of us are indeed creatures of habit … we do not like the surprises of the unknown, yet it is in the unknown where the greatest discoveries are found. Very little is discovered in the routine of life because the familiar doesn’t usually surprise, but the unknown is full of surprises. The familiar is easily handled by your past experience and current experience, but the unknown is all about the surprises in which you have no experience.
When facing the unknown, God's presence is what you want. With Him, no surprise within the unknown will overwhelm you. The echo of Moses's words should always be our guiding principle, "If your presence does not go with us, do not send us from here."
I believe even those who choose the routine over the unknown, will discover they will face the unknown even in their routine. There are so many variables even in the mundane routine that can and will surprise you. The benefit of knowing a God whose presence does not leave or forsake you is the assurance you want from your God. If the god you are serving today does not give you the assurance of knowing peace in the unknown, you may want to change your god.
The great unknown all humans will eventually experience will be death. Jesus told us that if we believe in Him, even when we die, we will live. His death and resurrection are the greatest assurance that we have of facing the great unknown journey of death. How can we know? Jesus is our assurance and our truth. If you have never come to faith in Jesus, you will face life's journeys alone. Loneliness in the uncertain and unknown times in your life is so below your privilege of having the presence of God go with you. It is a major consideration on your part, but worth every minute of knowing that God goes with you.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler
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