God's Consoling Presence Part 2

The consolations of God - Sixth in a series

Perhaps the best example of a man earnestly desiring God's presence is the story of Moses, when Israel was in the desert, after her miraculous deliverance from slavery under Pharaoh.

Moses was on Sinai fasting and receiving the 10 Commandments and laws for 40 days and nights, and the people grew anxious and lost faith. They pooled their jewelry and Aaron, Moses' brother who had assisted him in confronting Pharaoh, fashioned a gold calf for them to worship. Well, the cow was a sacred animal in Egypt, where, as a nation, they had resided for hundreds of years.

Moses took the stone tablets that had been engraved with the Law by God's finger, and traversed down the mountain. When he saw Israel dancing before the golden calf he threw down the tablets and they shattered. (Ex 32:19-25)

After a firm and somewhat violent reprimand of God's people, Moses returned to Sinai and fasted another 40 days and nights— again neither eating bread nor drinking water (Deut 9:18-19) — before interceding for the people. He reminded the Lord of the promises he had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so God relented from destroying Israel in his wrath.

The situation was righted to an extent, so that the people might continue on their journey to the Promised Land, however, God stated that he would NOT go with them. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned (Ex 33:3-4).

But Moses had sought the Lord on behalf of Israel, and God relented: My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." (Ex 33:14)

Moses expressed what all Christians should say: If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence. (Ex 33:15-16) Why take even one step if God is not with us? What would be the purpose? What might be the outcome?

Again, God wrote his Law on two tablets, and told Moses to put them in an ark to protect them. (Deut 10:2)

Moses came down from the mountain, his face shining, and taught the people God's law and they set about constructing the tabernacle for the proper worship of the Lord. It all came to pass just as Moses had told Pharaoh: Let my people go that they may worship me. (Ex 7:16; 8:1; 9:1; 9:13; 10:3)

God made known his presence by a cloud or fire above the tent of the congregation:

When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Ex 40:34-38)

So the people of God journeyed to Canaan, yet none of those who rebelled and worshiped the golden calf and argued against entering the land when Caleb and Joshua brought a good report (Num 14:28-33) were permitted to enter. Neither did Moses enter (Num 20:12). But that is another lesson.

Even so, Israel in the wilderness was blessed, for they had the presence of God. It was enough consolation for a lifetime.

God's Consoling Presence Part 1

The consolations of God - Fifth in a series

God is in all places at all times. We learn as children that he is omnipresent and exists eternally, outside of time. So, what does it mean when we say or read that his presence is with a person or nation? Or that the Lord casts people away from his presence?

The Bible has many instances of the word Presence or face of God. Jacob named the place where he wrestled with God, Peniel or presence. (Gen 32:29-30)

Psalm 114:7 instructs us to tremble at the presence of the Lord, and Psalm 100:2 says, …come before his presence with singing. David begs the Lord after his sin with Bathsheba, Cast me not away from your presence and take not thy holy spirit from me. (Ps 51:11) God proclaims to Judah, the nation, I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence… (Jer 23:39b)

These diverse passages teach that God's presence can be terrifying, yet much to be desired, and it is possible for man to be removed from it. The theological truth is that God is omnipresent but our experience or perception of it is fine-tuned by many influences.

There is an expression, "If you feel far from God, who moved?" This implies the person has lost faith and therefore feels far from God. But is this always the case? That person may be in the midst of a great test of faith.

True, we may feel far from the long suffering, good Presence (Ex 34:6-7) because of our own blindness and sins, or try hiding from the Lord, to no avail, of course. (Gen 3:8; Jon 1:3) True repentance is then required for reunion with Him. (2 Cor 7:10)

Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. (Ps 83:16)

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Ps 73:28)

When God's presence is a wonderful consolation, then his omnipresence is, too.

The Consolation of Certainty

The consolations of God - Fourth in a series

God has designed that we should have certainty in our faith. He has given us "many infallible proofs," (Acts 1:3) the testimony of the entire Word, His Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of the saints, to name some ways by which we are upheld in belief.

Nevertheless in the course of our lives we will have many occasions to cry out, "Help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

No matter how hard we study to be approved (2 Tim 2:15), pray, serve, or do any of the things that uphold our belief, we will experience people, incidents and attacks by the Rulers of Darkness (Eph 6:12) that disturb our peace and faith.

Then, confusion, doubt and fear clamor for first place in the race to conquer our minds. Feelings of emptiness, anxiety and various sinful reactions and emotions sabotage us — We are shrinking back — the very thing we don't want to do. (Heb 10:38)

So, repent and return. Begin the journey home to Life. Thoughts and emotions must be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit, or one cannot function as a Christian.

Being a Christian means having FAITH—thinking and knowing, that

  • God is good
  • God is love and He loves us
  • God is in control, and He is working his purposes out
  • He is with us, helping us
  • We belong to Him; He is a careful owner
  • He is worthy of our love and praise
  • He has never made a mistake of any sort!

Therefore we set aside private hurts, refuse any long-term discouragement, and maintain an outlook that proves we DO trust in God; we WILL RESIST the devil (James 4:6), pray, think and act in ways that express we are under His providential, loving care, no matter how we feel or what the appearances are.

In time, assurance returns. And no pastime, vacation, sport or spree of any sort can bring the renewal of joy as will the peace of assurance. There is no true rest nor relaxation but in the peace of Christ that comes from certainty in our faith.

My peace I give you. (John 14:27)

Be still and know that I am God. (Ps 46:10)

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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