Exodus 33:14 The Presence of God
NAS Exodus 33:14 And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. (Exod. 33:14 NAS)
NAS Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy, He redeemed them; And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. 11 Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them, 12 Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, 13 Who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble; 14 As the cattle which go down into the valley, The Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So didst Thou lead Thy people, To make for Thyself a glorious name. (Isa. 63:9 NAS)
Thoughts about Exodus 33:14-15 and Isaiah 63: 9, 14. In my very recent “thoughts” I wrote about the hiddenness of God. Even when we feel like He is hidden, He is present. Our texts speak about His presence. For the next few days, I will write about the presence of God.
Israel’s conquest of Canaan lies in the background of our texts. The role of the presence of God in the conquest instructs us now in two ways. One way is that we can apply the lessons learned to our spiritual lives. We often think of Canaan as a metaphor for the promised land of our spiritual development. Two is that we can apply the lessons to world evangelism. We have been commanded to go into all the world and plant the church for Christ. His presence must be with us as we minister to the world.
Our first text, Exodus 33:14-15, is from a conversation between the Lord and Moses.
In verse 14, we read: “And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. “Much later, when recalling what God did for Israel, Isaiah declared, “In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy, He redeemed them; And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:9). Then, concerning Israel’s entry into Canaan’s land, Isaiah tells us: “The Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So didst Thou lead Thy people, To make for Thyself a glorious name” (Isaiah 63:14).
The presence of God in our lives is essential. His presence affects everything that we are and will become. Based on these texts, we will consider four questions: (1) Who will go with us? (2) What will His presence do? (3) How will we recognize His Presence? And (4) What will be the result of His presence? Each day, we will discuss one of these questions and perhaps related issues.
More Thoughts from Exodus 33:14-15 and Isaiah 63:9, 14
Our subject for several days in the presence of God. Our texts have to do with the exodus of Israel from Egypt, their journey in the wilderness, and their conquest of Canaan. Today, we will consider the question “Who will go with us?”
The children of Israel camped near Mount Sinai for eleven months. While there, God promised (Exodus 23:20-23) to send an angel to go with Moses and lead them in their conquest of the promised land. Concerning the angel, God said, “My name is in him” (verse 21). Thus, the angel was identified in some way with the Lord.
Many have discussed the identity of the angel. Some have felt that Moses or Joshua was intended, but the clause “My name is in him” makes this unlikely. The angel, according to others, could be the presence of the Lord or the Lord Himself. Still, others think that the prophesied (Malachi 3:1) “angel [messenger] of the covenant,” or Christ, is meant. (Compare 1 Corinthians 10:4)
While Moses was on the mountain, the people of God sinned. As a result, God said He would send an angel (Exodus 33:1-6) with them, but that He would not Himself go with them. His holiness would destroy them. Because of this, Moses said to the Lord (Exodus 33:12), “But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me.” His comment was an intercessory prayer to know who would go with him.
The Lord answered the prayer by relenting and saying (Exodus 33:14), “My presence shall go with you.” With this in mind, the prophet Isaiah (63:9) said, “And the angel of His presence saved them.” This statement combines the Lord’s original promise of sending an angel with His name in Him and the promise that “My presence” will go with you.
We might think of the angel of His presence as the Holy Spirit. In Isaiah 63:10 Isaiah speaks of grieving the Holy Spirit. Moreover, when you compare Exodus 33:14 and Isaiah 63:14, you see a close connection between the present and the Spirit of the Lord.
To summarize, Moses wanted to know whom God would send with him. God promised to send an angel. Then he told Moses that “My presence” would go with Him. Much later, Isaiah identified the angel as the “angel of His presence.” The presence can refer to the Lord, Christ, or the Holy Spirit. However, the special emphasis is on the Holy Spirit.
In my next “thoughts” I will consider what the Bible says about the presence of the Spirit in our lives. Your comments concerning what the Bible says are welcome. Also, I would enjoy your thoughts about the “presence” in your life.
More Thoughts from Exodus 33:14-15 and Isaiah 63: 9, 14
When Moses talked with God about who would go with him in the wilderness, God’s answer was “My presence” (Exodus 33:14). Then, Moses said, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Exodus 33:15).
Today, we will discuss how this story applies to us. As we live for God and do His work, we might ask, who will be with us? The answer for us, as with Moses, is “My presence will be with you.” We can expand the answer with New Testament evidence concerning the presence of the Triune God.
First, the apostle Paul asked in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” According to Paul in Ephesians 2:22, we “are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Because we are a temple of God, we can be assured that God is always present with us. We are a dwelling place for the presence of God.
Second, Matthew 1:23 applies Isaiah 7:14 to Jesus. Matthew says that Jesus will be called “Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us. “Jesus, who is God, is with us always. He is with us in our daily lives. When Jesus was giving the Great Commission, He said to the disciples: “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When we are reaching out to the nations, Christ will be with us.
Third, near the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus declared: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16). As far as His physical presence on earth was concerned, Jesus was going away. Jesus assured the disciples that another helper, the Holy Spirit, would be with them.
Right now, as I am writing, I sense the presence of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is indeed amazing that the eternal creator of the universe would choose to make us a dwelling place.
More Thoughts from Exodus 33:14-15
As we discussed in my last “thoughts,” God promised Moses that “My Presence” would go with him and his people in their journey toward the promised. Also, we rejoiced over the fact that the Triune God is with us now. Today, we will concentrate on the question, “What does the presence of God do?
The presence of God certainly was with Moses until he died, but Moses did not enter the promised land. As events unfolded, it would be Joshua, not Moses, who would lead Israel in their conquest of the land (Numbers 20:11). This task would not be easy. The people of God would have to drive out the inhabitants (Numbers 23:2). This would be a dangerous and difficult military campaign, but the angel of His presence would be with them.
Now, the Holy Spirit empowers us in two ways. First, we must develop in the image of Christ and live Godly lives. There are many obstacles to be overcome in maturing in Christ. The temptations we face are many. The crowded schedules we keep may hinder us from having time with God. Moreover, Satan works overtime to destroy us. Despite problems, His presence goes with us to give us victory.
Second, we have many obstacles in accomplishing our mission as well. Some governments may seek to prevent us. Some missionaries have difficulties getting visas. Medical conditions may be difficult. Very often, ministers lack the needed finances to make things happen. Although there is much opposition, His presence goes with us! His presence empowers us!
Both spiritually and concerning our mission, we are in a war with evil forces. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul states: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The warfare is intense, and the spiritual force is ominous, but His presence goes with us! Where His presence goes, there is victory!
More Thoughts from Exodus 33:14-15
Today, we will discuss the question, “How do we recognize God’s presence. The Lord told Moses that His presence would go with them, but Moses was not yet satisfied. He wanted evidence. Therefore, he prayed (Exodus 32:18), “I pray You, show me Your glory.” As a part of seeing His glory, Moses hoped to see the face of God.
Moses had spoken with the Lord “face-to-face,” but had not directly seen His face (Exodus 3:11). Moses could see a measure of His glory, but not His face. The Lord promised to pass before Moses but covered his face with His hand. Moses could only see His back, not His face. Nevertheless, it was evidence enough for Moses that His presence would go with them.
Our hearts yearn, too, to recognize His Presence. We would like to see the Persons of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Perhaps we are like Philip who said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8). Jesus replied (John 14:9), “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Fortunately for us, we have Christ who came to dwell among us. He was visibly present among His people, and we have the record of His presence. Because He came, we know much about Him. Still, we want to recognize the Presence today. Now, let us consider, some practical ways.
We can inwardly sense His presence. Especially during times of prayer and worship, His presence is real to us. However, we can sense His presence in other conditions as well. Our inner spiritual ears can hear His voice, and our spiritual eyes can see Him.
There is always a close connection between the Word of God and the Spirit. Where the Word is, the Spirit is. Thus, the presence of the Word is evidence of His presence. We must always be a people of the Word.
Very often, we simply see the result of His presence. Jesus said (John 3:8): “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Although we cannot see the Spirit, we see the result of His work.
More Thoughts from Exodus 33:14-15
We are studying the presence of God. Today, we will discuss the result of His presence. The Presence of God is with us as we live and work for Him. His presence helps us mature as believers and enables us to fulfill His mission.
The generation of unbelieving Israelites did not enter the promised land and receive rest (Numbers 14:23; 26:65; Hebrews 3:11, 18-19). A new generation did. Under the leadership of Joshua, the Presence went with them. As a result, they had to rest.
In Deuteronomy 12:9-11 the Lord speaks about the rest He will give His people. They will possess the land and will rest from all their enemies. They will live in security. Fulfillment of this condition came under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 21:43-45). The rest had to do primarily with the land and freedom from enemies, but there were attendant spiritual blessings.
As believers in Christ, we can have the rest that God provides. We can have rest in our spiritual walk and in doing the will of God. Hebrews 3-4 deals with the rest which God promised. For us to have rest, we must believe (Hebrews 4:3). The rest is contingent upon faith. This rest has to do with our spiritual lives.
We share an inheritance with Christ. To the Messiah, the Lord said, “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession” (Psalm 2:8). Christ is the inheritor of the nations. We share in that inheritance because we are children of God.
In Romans 8:16-17 Paul wrote: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” We will have the nations for our inheritance! The Presence will be with us as we tell the gospel to the ends of the earth. We will win people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
More Thoughts from Exodus 33:14-15
We have been talking about the presence of God. Concerning Moses, the Lord had said He would send an angel but not Himself go with him. The Lord relented and promised “My Presence” will go with you. Nevertheless, as if to underscore his appeal, Moses requested: “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Exodus 33:15).
Concerning us as believers, we would ask and answer four questions. (1) Who will go with us? God’s answer is “My Presence.” (2) What will the Presence do? His presence will help us overcome all obstacles in life and ministry. (3) How will we recognize His presence? We will recognize His presence by the inward evidence, the Word of God, and the results. (4) What will be the result of His Presence? We will enter into rest and, as joint-heirs with Christ, receive the nations as our inheritance.
Along with Moses, we can say that we cannot be without the Presence. We cannot manage our spiritual lives or be effective in our mission without God being with us. Our prayer is, “Lord, don’t leave us on our own. Don’t lead us into battle unless you will go with us. Unless you go, we cannot go. However, we know that You have promised to be with us. We know that wherever You lead us, Your Presence will be there!” As the songwriter, Stephen Lee Fry says:
Oh, the glory of Your presence
We Your temple
Give You reverence
Come and rise from Your rest
And be blessed by our praise
As we glory in Your embrace
As Your presence
Now fills this place
George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.