“Don’t hang out with them… they’re the bad kids!” I don’t think my mother ever used those exact words, but I sure picked up the impression. I strongly suspect other moms spoke that way about me, warning their kids that I was the bad influence. Of course, the implication is that their “badness” would rub off on me (or, mine onto them!). As a parent myself, I can completely understand the parental warning—I don’t want my kids to be negatively influenced by others either! The solution, of course, is “Stay away!”
Now, in parenting situations, that might very well be great advice. The desire to protect our children from bad influences is overwhelming, and right and proper, I would think. A big part of that protection is to ensure that they find themselves in healthy, God-honoring relationships and circumstances. But, I’m really glad that God does not treat me/us like that!
God is holy. That is, He is distinct, separate, removed from the sinfulness and evil of this world. God does not, and cannot, abide evil and wickedness. But—and there’s that wonderful word—but, the Lord, nevertheless, desires to be with us! An amazing thing about our God, though He is holy, perfect, and good in every way, it is His desire not to abandon us, to separate Himself from our sinfulness. Instead, He desires to walk with us. The Bible uses lots of different language to try to capture this reality—God walks with us, we are united with Christ, He comes to us, and so forth. But, the image I like best is… God desires to dwell with us.
From the beginning in Eden, God acts so as to dwell with His people. It is not enough simply to remove our sin or to free us from the slavery of our evil. It is not the Lord’s sole purpose to bless us with good and gracious things. All these are part of what God does so that He might be our God and we His people. That relationship—belonging to God—is not a distant thing. It is intimacy expressed in His intention to dwell, to live among, to be a part of every moment, to be with His children.
There’s no better picture of this than in Revelation 21. Here, the Apostle John recounts his vision of what Heaven will be like—the culmination of all the creative and redemptive work of God: “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21: 3-4).
We justly think of all the blessings and benefits—no more pain! No more mourning, tears, crying… death. No more! But, this is not simply because we will be in heaven; but because in heaven we shall dwell with God Himself! The thought of being daily, every moment, in the immediate presence of God is overwhelming! God desires to dwell with us, and all that dwelling means is possible because of the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us.
As you prepare for worship this Sunday, read Exodus 33:12-16.
1. What does the Lord mean when He commands Moses to “Bring up this people” (vs. 12)? Who is He talking about, and what does He want Moses to do?
2. Why does Moses want someone to go with him? What might his concerns be?
3. What does it mean that God “knows you by name”? Obviously, knowing everything, God knows our names. Why stress this to Moses?
4. To find favor in God’s sight means what?
5. What would it look like for God to “show you His ways” (vs. 13)? What is the result of God doing so? Why does Moses desire this?
6. What might God mean when He says He will send His Presence with Moses? Isn’t God omnipresent (everywhere) anyways? Of course, He is everywhere so He will be with Moses. What is special about what He is saying?
7. In verses 15-16, why does Moses want to be seen as “distinct” from the rest of the world? Why does he want to stand out? Is this simply an ego thing? If not, what is in play?