ELT Baptist Church


Exodus 33. No recording - See the ... button below for an outline.
Sermon Notes

Apologies - there was an issue with the recording and we weren't able to upload it. Below is a more full outline of the sermon.

What matters most to every church and to Christian is God. But often He doesn't matter as much as He should. Many Christians live as practical atheists - God making no real difference to our lives.
Here then is a plea for God to matter to His people.

The contect of this passage: Because of the sin of Israel with the golden calf, God tells Moses that He will not go with them, as He would surely destroy them on the way. So Moses is distressed. Would we be distressed if told that we would have the blessings of salvation, but not God Himself? Many Christians seem to want this state of affairs.
So Moses prays - in the tent of meeting, God meets and speaks to Moses intimately. But this is outside the camp - God is not present with His people, but only with Moses. Moses was asking that God would indeed go with His people and be with them in the camp (in the Tabernacle).

3 things we can learn from Moses' prayer:

The church and each of us as Christians...

-...need to learn the ways of God:
vs12: Moses is asking who will go with him (who will help him, like e.g. Joshua) but he also wanted to know God more intimately ("teach me your ways so I may know you" vs13). And this is for the sake of the people ("Remember that this nation is your people." vs14).
Note: 'God's ways' is how He works accoding to His character. c.f. Psalm 103 ('He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.' Ps 103:7-8). But asking to know God's ways is also to want to walk in them (c.f. Psalm 119:1-8 for example).
Moses is then asking to be shaped through knowing God as He has revealed Himself (he asks this for himself and for the rest of the people). So we need to be Bible people - being shaped by knowing God as He has revealed Himself - so that God matters to us more than anything else. This is not just head knowledge (though it includes this - we need to know what God is like). We need to be doers of the word and not just hearers. As William Ames puts it: "theology is the doctrine of living to God". Or as George Muller says: "The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord".

-...need to have God's presence:
In answer to Moses' prayer God says "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." - vs14. But Moses still has a problem: "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here." If God were not with them, they would be no different from anyone else - vs15-16. The Lord then says that He will do what Moses has asked - to go with and be with His people. (Aside: God in His sovereignty used the prayer of Moses to achieve His purpose of going with and blessing His people).
God's purpose to be with His people is fulfilled ultimately in Christ. In Him, the church becomes God's temple - God is with His people by His Spirit (c.f. 1 Cor 3:16, 1 Pet 2:4-5, Matt 18:20).
Yet we should not presume or take this for granted. We continue to pray that He would be with us, and that we would experience His presence in a more intimate and evident way.

-...need to see God's glory:
Moses then says: "Now show me your glory." Yet seeing God's face would mean Moses' death. So God reveals His glory in part - and His glory, goodness and His name are mroe fully revealed to Moses (see also Exodus 34).
But God's glory is even more fully known in Jesus. See John 1: 'We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.' - vs14; and 'No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.' - vs18.
We also see God's glory in Christ - see 2 Cor 3:18 ' And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.'

As we, in Christ, learn the ways of God, have and know God's presence and see God's glory then God will matter more to us.

Bible Passage