Thursday 20 November 2014

Bible Book:

“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (v. 11a)

Exodus 33:1-11 Thursday 20 November 2014


At the end of chapter 32 Moses destroyed the golden calf,rebuked Aaron and ended the rioting in the camp by means of awarning-massacre of 3,000 people and then pleaded with God toforgive God's own people. God agreed to continue to accompany thepeople to the land which they had been promised, but promised topunish the people in due time and sent a plague on the people.

In today's passage God reiterated the promise to give the peoplea land of their own. As slaves they had no access to the produce ofthe land, but were dependent on what the Egyptians would give orsell to them; as landowners they would have food security and beable to provide not only for themselves but for the vulnerable inthe community. The image of a land flowing with milk and honey,suggests that there will be both rich pasture for livestock andfertile land for cultivating fruits and grains. Despite theirarrogance, the people were not abandoned by God.

There was, however, a new distance in the relationship. Godwould no longer guide them with God's own presence in pillars ofcloud and fire, but send an angel to guide them instead. It wasbecause of their arrogance that the presence of God would endangerthem. Israel had now lost her uniqueness as the people whose Goddwells in her very midst - the "tent of meeting" (v. 7) had to bepitched outside the camp, as God now keeps a distance. The "tent ofmeeting" is an early form of the tabernacle commanded by God forworship - Moses has not yet had the opportunity to construct theelaborate structure dictated by God on the mountain-top.

By contrast, Moses himself is allowed an extraordinary degree ofintimacy with God, meeting with him "face to face, as one speaks toa friend". To be a 'friend' of God is remarkable in the OldTestament, but Jesus promised to call his disciples his friends (John15:14-15), and made it possible for all who follow him to havethe same kind of intimacy with God as Moses had.

To Ponder

  • Do you ever find that reliance on your own resources preventsyou from being close to God? What might you need to do to overcomethis?
  • Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I command you …I have called you friends, because I have made known to youeverything that I have heard from my Father" (John15:14-15). What does it mean, in practice, to be a 'friend' ofGod?

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