Today’s reading includes Exodus 34:1-35:9, Matthew 27:15-31, Psalm 33:12-22, Proverbs 9:1-6.
In today’s reading we see that Moses is dealing with a lot. He is acting as a liaison between God and the people. He is carving a new set of commandments, as directed by God. He is learning how to go forward as the leader of a stubborn group of people. He was climbing mountains to be near God and he was fasting for forty days and nights. How does a mere man have strength for us great tasks? The answer is that his strength came from friendship with the Lord. He developed this friendship and found renewed strength when he spent time with God. There were the mountain top experiences which were very pivotal and important. But it was the day in day out worship that prepared him for the mountain top experience. And so it is with us. We can go on a retreat, have a huge life-changing moment with God and those times are cherished ones. But our strength comes from the day to day private moments of worship. Remember that the tent of meeting was a place of worship. It was a place where Moses could go to be in the presence of God. God met him there. We see evidence that God was with Moses always, but when he was in the tent of meeting it was a divine set-apart time. We need that divine time each day as well. My friend, Kelli, calls it a holy hush. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This holy hush prepares us for our purpose: to be participants in the extraordinary.
“And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents watching Moses until he entered the tent.:
As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped each at the entrance to his tent.” (Exodus 33:8-10)
Moses may have been oblivious to others watching his sincere worship, but they did. And so do others watch us, as believers. His sincere worship affected others, causing them to rise up and stand at the entrance of their own tents. It caused others to stop what they were doing and take notice. But Moses couldn’t see them. He just saw God. The pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, blocking Moses’ view of others.
True worship does the same for us. When we worship, in spirit and in truth, then our view of others is blocked out, even if only temporarily. Suddenly, we have an audience of One; or rather we are the observer of a one-on-one display of magnificent glory. And we are changed. But we are not the only ones changed. We also see in those verses that when the cloud, which was the presence of the Lord, descended, when true worship began, the focus was no longer on Moses. The focus and glory was God’s alone.
“They all stood and worshiped each at the entrance to his tent” (Exodus 33:10).
They did not go to the tent of meeting to worship, but seeing Moses’ true worship did affect change in the whole camp. So it is with us. We may never see the extent of effect that our true worship has on others this side of heaven. But it affects the thread of the tapestry being woven all around us. It may begin the weaving of a holy tapestry in the hearts of others. But that is not why we worship. That is just a wonderful consequence of worship.
We worship because we realize Who God is. When we begin to get even a glimpse of that, the knowledge alone demands a response. The response will be different in different people. Some will pray, some will cry, some will laugh, and some will raise their hands. Some will sit quietly and meditate in their heart. God has made so many different personalities; it makes sense to me that the response would be different in each one, personalized between us and God. But the common factor is that a change of heart occurs in the midst of true worship.
“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
It is during our times of worship that intimacy in our friendship with God grows and develops. Our closest friends are the ones that we have spent much time with, and in whom we confide. In the same way, time spent in worship, both private and corporate, is the means of developing a best-friend status with the King of Kings.
As leader, Moses would then return to the camp, to the outside world. We can’t stay in the tent of meeting all day, every day. We do have work to do. God has given us an assignment, a purpose, which will require entering the outside world. But we are called to be in the world but not a part of the world. True worship gives us the strength to engage in the world, but not to be stained by it. Daily worship equips us for our daily assignments, which God graciously entrusts to each of us. Consistent worship equips us to look and act like a friend of God.
There are, however, seasons of our life that God calls us to take time away and come apart from the world. There will be seasons that you need to spend more concentrated time with God, because He is preparing you for something new and special and extraordinary.
“…but his young aide, Joshua, son of Nun, did not leave the tent” (Exodus 33:11).
Joshua did not yet know that God would call him to the mighty task of leading the people into the Promised Land. He did not yet know that he, an ordinary man, would be called to an extraordinary assignment. All he knew at that point was that he had to be near God. This season of separation from the rest of the camp was preparation for the great task ahead. I, too, have had times like that. I have, at times, been called to resist all urges of busyness, no matter how “good” the busyness is. And I have found that almost always, those times of being called aside for long periods of time in His presence result in me being equipped for a new God-assigned task.
I may not even understand that He is preparing me for something. I simply must be obedient when He calls me to clear the calendar. There are times that I was commanded to say no to everything in my life. It did not even make sense to me, but if I was disobedient, I felt the rebuke of the Lord. Not only that, I felt that His hand of favor was not on the task I was trying to complete, and it caused major stress for me, and poor results for others.
Whether it is a season of intense worship or simply daily time with the Lord, worship is crucial for our lives and our mission. When we learn to truly worship, we can’t forget His ways and His calling. We praise Him and worship Him because of who He is, not because of what He has done. The fact that He is God is enough knowledge for us to continually praise Him. Today, may we worship Him purely, sincerely, and consistently.