"Seeking God's Presence"

Listen to this message.

Date:  12 July, 2015

Text:  Exodus 33:11-23

Title:  Going with God's Presence



·         Israel has greatly failed God.

·         Moses had been on the mountain receiving the ten commandments. They turned immediately to idolatry and had Aaron make a golden calf from their jewelry. They then immorally worshipped the calf.

·         Moses broke the tablets on which God had written the ten commandments symbolicallys showing how they had broken God's law.

·         They were made to drink bitter water from the ground up idol.

·         Three thousand who were out of control were killed because of their transgression.

·         God would have destroyed them and Aaron, but for the intercession of Moses.


Instead of God leading HIMSELF leading the children of Israel into Egypt, he now says that his angel will do so.


1 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:

2  And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:

3  Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.

4  And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.


exp.  Israel shows true repentnace and puts off their jewelry as an outward sign of their submission to God.  They do so in obedience to the express command of God.


5  For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.

6  And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.


note: Now the camp is defiled because of their sin. Moses takes a tent (not the tabernacle itself) and sets it up outside of the camp. It is called, "The Tabernacle of the Congregation."


7 ¶  And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.


exp.  Because of their sin there was a hesistancy to expect God to meet with them as He had in the past. God has already said to them that He is not physically going to lead them into the land. But Moses is not satisfied to go forward without God. He is the champion of Israel when it comes to intercession (pleading with God in prayer.) And so, the champion of prayer walks outside of the congregation to the prayer chapel, "The Tabernacle of the Congregation" to wrestle with God for His best blessing. GOD IN HIS MERCY MEETS WITH MOSES.



What can we learn this morning about seeking after God?


I. Those who seek after God meet with God.

            A. They go to the place of prayer.

8  And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.

ill. Hearing Dr. Ed Nelson share the testimony of Matthew Thomas. They were from India. Matthew and his wife had a prayer rug upon which they would pray for 5-6 every morning.

ill.  Daniel - Da 6:10  Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

app.  Where do you go to meet with God? Do you have a place of prayer? If you want to seek God, go to the place of prayer!

            B. They find God in the place of prayer.

9  And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.

10  And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.

exp.  Moses arrived at the place of prayer and God came to meet him there.

ill. Jesus - sermon on the mount

Mt 6:6  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

app.  Those who seek God expect to find Him in the place of prayer. Jer 29:13  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. IF YOU HAVE YET TO MEET GOD, YOU HAVE NOT TRULY SOUGHT GOD.

            C. They have communion with God in the place of prayer.

11  And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

exp.  The phrase face to face is figurative meaning that there was open communion between them. Just a few verses later God says to moses in v.20  And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

ill. The prayer life of Jesus, raising of Lazarus - John 11: 41-42  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

app.  How is your communion with God in prayer? Do you meet with God face to face as you go to the place of prayer? 2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (This verse speaks of communion with God.)


II.  Those who seek God are known of God and find grace in His sight.

            A. There is an awareness of a special relationship with God.

12 ¶  And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.

exp. Moses knew that God knew Him and that he had a special relationship with God.

ill.  Some religions teach that you can know ABOUT God, but they don't teach that you can KNOW God and be known of God.

ill. There is a big difference between knowing about the queen and knowing the queen.

quest.  Do you know that King of Kings this morning and know that He knows you?

John 10:3  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

5  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

app: Is Jesus a stranger to you or is the world? Which do you follow and know? Are you aware of a speical relationship with God this morning?

            B.  There is an expectation of a special relationship with God.

13  Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.

exp.  As a special person to God, I have expectations of a special relationship with God!

ill. Water from the Jordan river was flown in for the christening of Princess Charlotte as it was for Prince George. But, we don't expect the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge to do that for all the children in their community. But, when they have another child, we'd expect the same priviliges to be offered them.

exp.  There are priviliges to those who are children of royal families.

question: What is your expectation as a child of God?

Judges 6:13  And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

exp.  Gideon expected special blessings because he was part of God's chosen people. He was seeking God for those things and would get to experience that blessing in an amazing way!

app.  Are you content to be without the evident blessing of a child of God? Those who seek God expect to receive special blessings from God because they are the people of God.



III. Those who seek God desire to stay where they are rather than to go on without God.

            A. They expect God to go because God had promised to go.

14  And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

exp.  Moses had the promise of God that His presence would go with him. With God Moses would find rest.

question: Do you know what it is to rest in the presence of God?

Matthew 11: 28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

ill.  A yoke puts two animals into a join harness. You would normally seek to yoke two animals of the same size. If an oxx was yoked with a weaker animal, that ox would have to pull a greater part of the weight. But, if that ox were yoked with a larger animal, then the load would be easier.

app.  None of us can bear the burdens of sin, @#!*% , life without God. Unbeliever, you can be yoked with him and have His promised presence. Believer, are you staying in the Yoke with Christ? You can't pull it on your own.

            B. They would rather stay if God will not go.

15  And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.


·         Israel would disobey God after the spies report and then attempt to go without God. but, they would miserably fail because God wasn't with them.

·         Moses' servant Joshua is going to find out in Ai what it is like for Israel to go to battle without God. An easy victory ends in defeat. It would have been better to stay than to go without God.

app.  Those who seek God realize that going without God is not an option because it would end in failure. They seek God because THEY MUST HAVE GOD'S PRESENCE WITH THEM.


IV. Those who seek God want evidence of God's presence going with them.

            A. They want the world to know that God is with them.

16  For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us?

exp.  Moses didn't just want to know that God was with them. He wanted everyone to know that God was with him.

ill.  One of the great burdens of George Mueller was to prove God before the eyes of men. He wanted to show the glory of God.

app.  Have you a desire for the blessing of God upon His people to be seen?

            B.  They want to be distinquished by God's blessing.

so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

exp.  What made Israel different from the Heathen nations was the fact that they served the living God and had His evident blessing.

ill. Rahab - Joshua 2: 9  And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

10  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11  And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

ill.  Queen Mary trembled at the presence of John Knox because of His God. In response to Knox's prayers, Mary Queen of Scots is reputed to have said: "I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe."

app.  Oh to seek a day, when God would again so distinguish His people by His blessing in answer to their prayers. Do you desire the evidence of God's presence with you?



V. Those who seek God want a greater glimpse of God's glory.

            A. They ask God to manifest His glory.

17  And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

18  And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

exp.  Moses has gone through a great trial of faith. Israel has failed the Lord and He has threatened her immediate destruction. Moses is seeking a greater glimpse of the glory of God to encourage Himself in what God has called him to do.

note: Moses did not have the Bible in which God has revealed Himself to mankind. He would be the author of the Penteteuch. And so, he asks God to physically reveal himself.

app. How often do you seek a greater revelation of God in His Word? God has revealed Himself through His truth and through His son JESUS CHRIST.

Joh 14:9  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

We have a greater glimpse of God's glory than Moses ever had.

I Peter 1:10 ¶  Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

app.  Are you still seeking a greater glimpse of God's glory in His Word and your relationship with JESUS CHRIST? Those who seek God desire a greater glimpse of God's glory.

            B.  To them God in His mercy reveals His glory.

19  And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

20  And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

21  And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

22  And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

23  And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

note: God in his mercy reveals some of His glory to his servant.

exp.  What Moses saw was not physically the back of God, but a lesser glorious light than His completely revealed glory. 1Ti 6:16  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

app.  We will not see the complete glory of God until eternity. But, God in His mercy will reveal Himself to those who desire  to know Him. Do you want to know God more intimitely this morning? Moses did. The greater the task before the greater should be our desire to see the revealed glory of God!



VI. Those who finally find God don't want to leave God's presence.

exp. Remember the summary in verse 11.

11  And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

exp. Moses has been in the presence of God before. But, his young servant is just finding out what it is to live in the presence of God. This young man would not easily depart from the manifest presence of God. (We know he didn't stay there forever. But, he stayed there longer than Moses.)

app.  Salvation is a glorious thing. Men who have been separated from God enter into His presence. It is a joy to behold their enthusiasm. May it be a reminder to us older believers to continue to be amazed at the presence of God and encourage us to stay long in His presence!


conclusion:  God's judgment is on our community and country as God's wrath was on Israel because of their disobedience. Moses wasn't content to let Israel be damned by God. He got on his face. He was seeking after God for them. Are you seeking after God for Scotland?


Are you going to the place of prayer?

Do you know a special relationship with God?

Do you believe that you must go without God or not at all?

Are you pleading with God for evidence of His presence?

Do you desire a greater glimpse of God's glory?

When he reveals Himself to you - do you linger in His presence?


Oh for men like Moses, who will seek God!