So, the last time we were together, we looked at how there are people who will experience God’s blessings and His goodness, but will not enter the kingdom! That is a big pill to swallow in many ways because it means that there may be people you and I know who have experienced the blessings of God, but have not been regenerated. Those people will not get to spend eternity with Jesus, they will be cut off, and will face judgment in hell! That truth should more than sober us, it should cause us to examine our own hearts and ask hard questions about why we do what we do, and where our hearts really are in respect to God. When I closed, I asked you to evaluate your walk with this question: “How is My affection for Jesus?” I believe that question is a very good one to help you evaluate where you are in your walk with Jesus.
Today’s text follows a similar pattern and almost expands on that truth from last time. In many ways, it leads from the last text into this one. Because if I say, not everyone who experiences God’s blessings will enter the kingdom, that begs the question, “who will?” I mean, if you cant tell by looking at someone’s actions, and their lifestyle, and it isn’t always obvious, How do we know, and how does God know.
To both of those questions, the short answer is; “thats is none of your business!” But I hope what follows will be the long answer to that question.
Lets read the text to get a feeling of what we are working with.
Ok, so what is happening here is this. God has just weeded out a number of people from Israel, He reduced the number of people significantly, and now, He is moving them to the next place. He tells them that he is sending them into the promised land, but He says that He will not go up with them because they are a stiff necked people, and that if He were to go among them, that He would destroy them. You know these are the people who were the ones who were “with God” in the last story. There were the ones who didn’t get blotted out, and here is God saying, “if I go with you, I will destroy you, because you are stiff necked!” They haven’t even done anything rebellious yet that we know of, it is as if God is saying, thats who you are, you may not have done anything yet, but I know you will, so its best if I just send the angels ahead and have them clear the way.
Think about this for a second. God is saying that if He were to be among the people as they go up to the Promised land, that He would destroy them, and yet, he destroys people along the way. If that doesn’t seem ironic to you, than you aren’t thinking about this as you read it.
So, the next thing that happens is that moses intercedes for the people in the tent of meeting. We get this description of what happens when Moses speaks with God, that they speak face to face as man speaks to his friend. Then Moses asks God to show Him His ways and makes sure that God will go with them, and there is this beautiful exchange of Moses saying what makes God’s people distinct from the other peoples on the face of the Earth is one thing, He is with them. They have found favor in His sight. Then Moses asks God to see His glory. He says he knows that God knows him, and has shown favor to him, but he wants to know more of God…
In this text there are a few things that I want to draw your attention to, that may help us to answer the questions that I posed earlier.
God’s favor on His people has everything to do with His character, and nothing to do with theirs. If it had anything to do with their character, He would not have had to say, I cannot go with you. Ephesians 2:8, Romans 9.
What Makes God’s people distinct is His presence. 33:16 Matthew 28:18-20
Because of God’s presence, He has high expectations for them. They are still called to live Holy lives. We live For His glory, not to earn His favor, but because we have earned His favor.