In Exodus, we see God in the process of leading His people to the land that he promised to their ancestors. God’s presence is with His people in a tangible and visible way leading them to the promised land. Along the way, the people lose their way and begin worshipping idols. Because of this, God decides it is best to withdraw His presence from the people and instead, send an angel to lead them. He describes the nation of Israel as a “stiff-necked people,” who are likely to rouse His anger to such a degree that He will likely wipe them from the earth.
Moses decides to intercede heavily for the people and in Exodus 33:15 Moses says, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” While that sounds “cute,” it’s important to know what Moses was really saying. Moses and the people of Israel were living in tents in the desert. They were essentially on an extended backpacking trip eating bread and quail for every meal every day. Personally, I love a good backpacking trip, but I have a 3-night limit. On day 4, I don’t care how beautiful the mountains are, how amazing the view is, or how high the elevation has climbed, I’m ready to be home. I want a hot shower, a good meal, and a comfy bed. I want the comforts of home. So, I can’t imagine what it would take to get me to stay in the wilderness for an extended period of time. But, that is what Moses was saying here.
Moses declares that they would rather stay in the desert than go forward without God’s presence. Moses knows that it’s better to live a lifetime in the desert with God’s presence than a day in paradise without Him. I know for me, it’s easy to value comfort over presence. It’s easy for me to check out and sacrifice my time in His presence in exchange for a little extra comfort. It’s easy for me to skip my time with Him in order to make my morning a little more manageable. It’s a constant struggle and battle to regularly remember that a moment in His presence is better than a lifetime anywhere else.
Join me in making a commitment to value His presence over comfort. There is so much more for us at His feet than there is in anything the world can provide.