Moses had two places where he would go regularly to meet with God:
1. Up on Mount Sinai. God’s appearance on the mountain was announced by fire and billowing smoke, thunder and lightning, earthquake and a crescendo of trumpet blast. The people were scared out of their wits, but Moses didn’t hesitate to go up whenever God called him to receive instructions on behalf of the people. He had courage in the presence of the One who loved him and had chosen him for service.
2. In a temporary “tent of meeting” that Moses set up outside the camp before the Tabernacle was built. Moses spent a lot of time in there. God met him and spoke to him personally, “as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) How amazing is that–to be considered God’s friend!!!
But fast-forward. I do have a “tent of meeting”! It’s a rocking chair in the corner of my living room. Or the kitchen where I sing as I prepare food. Or deep in my heart as I give thanks and express my love to this Heavenly Friend. When I curl up in my chair in the morning with my Bible and a cup of coffee, how I wish he’d have a cup, too (would He take sugar and cream?)—and that I could hear his voice and see his face. But I know He’s there with me, and one day I will see His face. (Revelation 22:4) Imagine his smile of delight as He welcomes me home!
There is a quiet place
Far from the rapid pace
Where God can soothe my troubled mind
Sheltered by tree and flow’r
There in my quiet hour
With Him my cares are left behind
Whether a garden small
Or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find
Then from this quiet place
I go prepared to face
A new day with love for all mankind (by Ralph Carmichael)
You can listen to the song at this website: http://offthesanctuarywall.blogspot.com/2010/11/lyrics-there-is-quiet-place.html
If God came to you in person and introduced Himself, what do you think he would say? Incredibly, this actually happened to Moses, and those words re-echo through the pages of Scripture.
On Mount Sinai, Moses had seen powerful signs of God’s presence, including thunder, earthquake, fire, trumpet blasts, and more. But still not satisfied, he begged God for the privilege of seeing His own glory. God did not allow Moses to see His face but he did let him see his “back” as He passed by. This was accompanied by a full introduction to His name and character:
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”
This foundational description of God’s character is cited at least seven more times throughout the Old Testament. It is the way He wants us to remember Him. (Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2)
God’s primary nature is love: compassion, unfailing love, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, patience. But He is not a big teddy bear in the sky! He is also holy and cannot tolerate sin and rebellion. For more about God’s love and patience, Israel’s rebellion and then God’s response, read Psalm 78. It’s quite a story!
A dinner invitation from God? This actually happened at Mt. Sinai!
Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain. There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence! (Exodus 24:9-11 NLT)
What an amazing God we have who is always inviting us into His presence! He actually wants to be with us! (See also Revelation 3:20 and 22:17 and lots of other verses throughout the Bible .)
Then what long-term effect do you suppose this experience had on those Israelite leaders? Well, sorry to say, just 40 days later (chapter 32), the people were caught worshipping a golden calf they’d demanded that Aaron make, presumably with the consent of these very 70 leaders who had just seen the true God in all his glory! They even had the gall to greet this image as “the gods who brought [us] out of the land of Egypt!”
How can people, like those leaders, turn so quickly from God’s truth, power, and beauty — to go along with something dead, deceptive and demonic? Is it because our knowledge does not come with allegiance? Have we not totally given Him our hearts and lives? Are we willing to conform to the demands of the rebellious crowds? God, help us to be faithful to You and to Your truth, no matter what!