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The Israelites, The Wilderness & The Presence of God

Have you ever found yourself getting frustrated with the Israelites in the wilderness? I specifically perplexed when I see them worshipping the golden calf! No sooner had God given His chosen people laws and ordinances, than they fell into disobedience, starting at the very top of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me.” The people chose an artificial image of their own making over God. The cycle had begun; and as we see through the present day, nothing really changes. Through the ages, we have built deities of affluence, power, adulation, busyness, and addiction. As much as the Israelites wanted freedom, they wanted familiarity more. Such is the nature of the gravitational force of sin.

One of the heroes of Exodus is Moses. He makes intercession for the people. He is a very clear forerunner of Christ, as the intermediary who brought the will of God down from Sinai (after 40 days alone with God). Does that sound familiar? After the people’s disobedience, Moses again filled this ambassadorial role by passionately interceding for Israel. Moses reminded God of His oaths and then, after destroying the golden calf, went back to the Lord and, in another messianic act, interceded again by offering himself to be “blotted out of the book you have written.”

Once intercession was made, and God’s anger at the idolatry subsided, He gives His people the most valuable gift He could possibly give: His presence. A tent of meeting, or Tabernacle, was constructed where the Lord would be seen and heard. This fulfills the promise of God: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” This is echoed again in Matthew’s account, where Jesus invites all into his presence: “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.” Immanuel, God with us. We need help getting to the throne of God.

Just as the tent of meeting ushered in the actual presence of God among his people, we begin to see a permanent, eternal template being established that points 1,500 years later: the problem of sin, an Intercessor who, with a radiant face on a mountain, descends to usher in not a set of laws but a Kingdom of grace, by taking the people’s sins himself. As Moses the Intercessor led the people through their wanderings until they reached home, so our Intercessor today does the same through Holy Spirit who lives within us.

Such is the great grace of the Almighty: a God who doesn’t just hand down edicts,

but extends His own hand. Because it’s not just about restrictions; it’s about redemption. Have a great week!!!

You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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