The Christian’s Desire
The people of Israel were being lead to the Promised Land. God was leading them out and He was to dwell among them. Then, the people of ancient Israel did something terrible. They engaged in idol worship and bowed down before a golden calf.
This is a serious problem; the Lord says “You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you” (Exodus 33:5, NASB). The people’s sins created a need for these people to be physically separated from the presence of the glory of God. Because of this, Moses now has to go outside of the camp to meet with God.
When Moses meets with God in the tent, he says “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16, NASB).
Notice that? God was still honoring His promise to lead Israel into the Promised Land. He was still offering to go before them and clear the enemies of the nation, but Moses had absolutely no interest in any of that. Moses recognized that it was fellowship with God that was the ultimate gift. Without God, Moses doesn’t care about being led into the Promised Land.
Moses even takes this one step forward and asks right then and there to behold the LORD, and this is where Moses is held in the cleft of the rock and permitted to see the LORD’s back.
Then, Moses flips the judgment in Exodus 33:5 and prays the following, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession” (Exodus 34:9, NASB).
Rather than desiring earthly possessions, Moses desired to be the heavenly possession of God. Notice the love that Moses has for the Glory of God. When God basically says, I’ll lead you into the land still but I’m not going in your midst, Moses wants no part of it. Moses would rather die in the middle of nowhere than go forward apart from the glorious presence of God.
The beautiful conclusion to this particular narrative is that right after this exchange, God renews the covenant with the people and gives the plans for a beautiful Tabernacle; which is a place for God’s glory to dwell in the midst of the people.
Our ultimate desire ought to be for God and His glory. Of course, the full story ends even more beautifully than just the Tabernacle. It ends with one of the most wonderful sentences in the Bible. It comes as the Apostle John explains his vision of the New Jerusalem. He says, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22, NASB).
The fellowship that we will enjoy with God in Heaven is greater than anything we could ever hope for. Our greatest desire is His Glory!