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February 24, Day #55 – God’s Presence Sustains Us

From each of our readings today, I glean that intimacy with God is what He desires of us. He is especially pleased when we commit ourselves to walk closely with Him. We come to Exodus 33-34 today. Yesterday, in chapter 32, we saw the anger of Moses, who, when he came down from the mountain, “threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them in pieces” (cf., Exodus 32:15-19). We also read that the Levites killed three thousand of their fellow Israelites and that the LORD struck the people with a plague for their sin (verses 28-35). In chapter 33, God tells Moses that He will give the land to his descendants. Twice the LORD says that these people “are a stiff-necked people, and that He “might destroy them” (verses 3 and 5). In this section, we also see how the LORD would “meet face to face with Moses in the tent of meeting” (verses 7-11). God’s meetings with Moses like this were in full view of the Israelites, who, after their frivolity in chapter 32, could no longer doubt the presence of God in their camp. We see here that God was pleased with Moses – reminding him that His Presence would go with him (cf., Exodus 33:12) and that He would have mercy and compassion on whom He would have them (verse 19). In the Christian life, the Presence of God is all-important. He has promised to go with us – never to leave us nor forsake us – and this is absolutely vital for our spiritual well-being. Knowing that God is with me – for me – dwelling within me – is of great comfort to me.

In Exodus 34, God instructs Moses to chisel out two new stone tablets to replace the broken ones. God proclaimed His compassion and grace – “slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, but He does not allow the wicked to go unpunished” (verse 6). These chapters are rich with truth about the attributes of God, and they give further light on the regulations that God established for the Israelites. Moses spent forty days and nights with God, and he ate and drank nothing during that time. How could that be? Moses was simply sustained by the very Presence of God, which reveals His sufficiency for us. The radiance of Moses’s face must have been quite stirring and incredible to witness – it caused the people to fear him (verse 30). Being in the presence of God has an incredible effect on us.

We continue with Psalm 25:8-15 where we read that “the LORD is good and upright” (verse 8). His ways are loving and faithful; and He “guides and teaches the humble in what is right” (verse 9). We need God’s guidance, teaching, and forgiveness, and these are available to us if we will only “fear” Him. This passage implies the closeness of an infant clinging to its mother. Bound up in an attachment of such holy fear is trust - the infant - like Moses in Exodus, is not afraid of its mother, because a baby finds love, care, shelter, nourishment, and protection in the tightest proximity of its mother’s arms. We also notice that God forgives our iniquity “for the sake of His name” (verse 11). The name of God is powerful and meaningful – it is not to be demeaned, disgraced, taken in vain, trifled with, or used indiscriminately – especially in conjunction with a curse. In our culture today, people reveal what they truly think and know about God in the way they handle – or mishandle – the name of God. As we saw earlier in Exodus 34:6, God will not allow such wickedness to go unpunished. Christians have a serious responsibility to uphold and protect the name of our God. Notice verse 14: “The LORD confides in those who fear Him.” It is a joy and a privilege to know the confidence of God.

In Mark 7:1 – Mark 7:23, we see how the Pharisees “gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were unclean” (verse 1). Mark tells us that they were basically obsessed with their “traditions” (verses 3-4). Obviously, they are trying to catch Jesus in some kind of legal trap, and His answer turns the table on them. He says, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (verse 8). Clearly, God’s commands are above men’s traditions. Jesus cites Moses and the law by pointing out that these Pharisees violate the law by dishonoring their parents; they proclaim something used to support one’s parents is “Corban,” and therefore devoted to God – nullifying its proper use to support the parents. Worse yet, Jesus says, “You do many things like that” (verse 13). Essentially, they have failed to keep the greater law of God by twisting it, using it to their own advantage, and dishonoring their parents - a capital offense. “What comes out of a man,” says Jesus, “is what makes him unclean – evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly” (verse 23).

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