Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars.”
Psalm 147: 3, 4
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“Now Moses used to take his own tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting (of God with His own people). And everyone who sought the Lord went out to that temporary tent of meeting which was outside the camp. When Moses went out to the tent of meeting, all the people rose and stood, every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the Lord would talk with Moses. And all the people saw the pillar of cloud stand at the tent door, and all the people rose up and worshiped, every man at his tent door.”
Exodus 33: 7-10
“The Pillar of Cloud and Fire” Part 5
“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth. He will fulfill the desires of those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him; He also will hear their cry and will save them. The Lord preserves all those who love Him.”
Psalm 145: 18-10
What does it mean to me to “draw near,” to God?
Can I remember an experience in my life when I felt that God’s presence was surrounding me?
In my daily life, how do I make time to draw near to God?
“Live near to God by prayer. Just fall down at His feet and open your very soul before Him, and throw yourself right into His arms.”
The children of Israel, while Moses was on the top of Mount Sinai within the cloud of God’s presence, decided that forty days was too long a time to wait for the return of their leader. They went to Aaron and asked him to build them a golden calf, something tangible they could touch and see. This calf, they claimed, could be their new god.
After spending forty days in the cloud covered presence of his Father in heaven, Moses, accompanied by Joshua, began to descend the rocky mountain terrain of Sinai. As they progressed on their journey, a sound of unsacred merriment hit their ears.
I can scarcely conceive the horror Moses felt when he witnessed the children of Israel, dancing around a gold calf made by hands of failed, earthly inhabitants who had just been delivered in a most dramatic way by their heavenly Father. Within days of being snatched from destruction from the army of Pharaoh through a dry pathway in the Red Sea, God’s children, because of a forty day time delay that encroached upon the faith of the Israelites camped at the foot of Sinai’s peak, these people made the absurd choice to not only toss Moses over as their leader, but they made up their minds to replace the God of heaven and earth with a god of gold.
After this act of total rebellion, if I had been among the dancers and revelers, I would have wondered if I had crossed the line and pushed God so far out of my life He might never want to return.
It was at this critical crossroad in time that we read the words found in Exodus 33, where Moses, desiring to keep near his Father in heaven, yet at the same time understanding the severe consequences for abject rebellion, “went out” and pitched his tent at some distance from the camp of Israel.
Praise God for His profound mercy and gracious love, for even in the face of rejection by the very people whose lives he had preserved, a familiar sign appeared as Exodus 33: 9 tells us, “After Moses had gone in (the tent), the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the door of the tent and the Lord would speak to Moses from the cloud.” What a benevolent Father! What kindness was bestowed on His unworthy and undeserving children.
Instead of God saying, “I’ll give as I get,” and rejecting His children, God’s presence came down in the Pillar of Cloud, a sign that the Bible tells us all the children of Israel could see from the doorways of their own tents.
I can’t properly express to you how relieved I would have felt upon seeing that guiding pillar of cloud, the protective shield, the banner of my sovereign Father, and the cloud of His instructional presence, come down, near to Moses – covering the doorway of his tent.
What a moment in time and Exodus 33: 10 lets us know that the significance of the presence of God was not lost on the gathering of rebellious children for we are told that the, “people rose up and worshiped, every man at his tent door” (Exodus 33: 10).
If ever you have felt, as I have at certain times in my own life, that the “dirt” in my own being and my rebel heart may have proved to be a barrier that would keep my Father in heaven away from me, we have to look no further than the Pillar of Cloud that in merciful love descended upon Moses’ desert tent. In spite of the terrible rebellion, for which there were consequences, God didn’t give up on His children who returned to Him with worshipful hearts, longing to restore what had been broken.
Of all the beautiful lessons we can learn from the Pillar of cloud and fire which contained God’s presence throughout the desert wanderings of God’s children, none touches my heart more than the knowledge that my forgiving Father, will draw near to me, an imperfect mortal, and will restore the nearness of His presence even when I have turned away through my own rebellion and anarchy. This knowledge, for me, makes me long, more than ever, to follow the “Pillar” where it guides. To stay within the “Pillar” as it protects. To walk, step-by-step under the banner of the Pillar. To take time every day to be within the Pillar of God’s instruction, and most of all, never to let anything of this earth draw me away from the nearness of God’s presence.
There is a wonderful old hymn which conveys the longing I have in this new year to stay within the “Pillar,” near to the heart of God.
“There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God,
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.
There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God,
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.
There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God,
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.”
In the words of the inspired A. W. Tozer, “More spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study.”
With God’s children in the desert, may we too stand in our doorways and find ourselves in worshipful reverence before the “Pillar” of cloud and fire in the presence of our gracious heavenly Father.
Nearer, Still Nearer
“Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior, so precious Thou art;
Fold me, O fold me close to Thy breast,
Shelter me safe in that haven of rest.
Nearer, still nearer, Lord to be Thine;
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride;
Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.”
Mrs. C. H. Morris
It is not far to go for You are near.
It is not far to go for You are here.
And not by travelling, Lord,
we come to You,
but by the way of love,
and we love You.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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