Brothers, Sisters, Family,
The Lord said to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, “To your offspring I will give it”… Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you.” Exodus 33:1,3
Do you know the context of these verses? Let’s get a brief summary. In Genesis 15, some 600yrs earlier, God had promised a man named Abraham, now in his 70s with his wife Sarah in her 60s, that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars of heaven. His children will inherit all the land that stood before him, they would be afflicted in exile for 400 years and yet come out as conquers and inherit the Promised Land. Abraham had no children when this promise was made.
Now, here, as Moses stands before God, the people number in the millions. They have spent over 400 years in Egypt, enslaved. God has worked miracles anything ever seen to deliver them from bondage in Egypt. The time has come, 600 years of prophecy is coming to an end, just as God had promised! The people have plundered the Egyptians, they have crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, they are being fed daily by manna from heaven in the desert. Yet, in an incredible moment, after all this, they turned from God, treasured sin and gave themselves up to an idol of their own making, claiming a golden calf had delivered them from Egypt. Moses has just plead that God forgive the people, saying he’d rather die and be condemned forever than not see the mercy of God (Gen 32:32) and the passage above was God’s reply.
Let’s paraphrase. “All my promises are yours. Your 600 year wait is over. Your 400 years of hard labor are ended. Go take the land. You can have everything you hoped for, all that I promised you. Your days or slavery and toil are over. You will have power and strength to overcome and have wealth, prosperity, great lands, and food in abundance. Yet, for all this, I am not going with you.”
What would your response be? What would my response be? Can we be honest?
My hope, my prayer to God, is that this would never be acceptable in the church and we’d never take such a “deal!” I appreciate the people’s response. In verse 4 it says “When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned.” It sounds good yet, it was a flash of emotion. It wasn’t real. They pretended concern. Like many, when things go wrong they’ll turn to God, say a prayer, crack a Bible, do a few good deeds to turn it around. “Happy wife, happy life.” “Say what God wants to hear, make him happy, he’ll make us happy!” Let it not be us today!
Moses response was similar, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Genesis 33:15) but his life proved it true. Moses sought God in every area of life. Moses lived and died in the desert. He never received the promise. He wasn’t perfect but he never wavered. He’d rather miss out on the promised land and every promise with it then go without God. Nothing was worth it.
“What would it a profit a man if he gain the whole world and yet lose his very soul?” (Mark 8:36) Someday you’ll stand before Holy God. Will you then be content to have gone without Him or will you follow Him no matter what the cost? Would you feign concern today, take it all in this life without God or would you be content to lose it all and have Him in the end? This is the essence of the Christian life. I pray you and I consider our answer well.