The Day’s Scripture
Exodus 33:1-4; 12-18
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’2 I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 3 Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” 4 When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments.
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
Take inventory of what you pray for:
Every so often I sit down to take stock of our family budget. I take a quarter of a year and average out our expenses by category to see how much of our budget we are spending on certain things like ‘entertainment.’ Wow, we’ve been 5% of our budget here and 7% there . . . that’s not good, that needs to go way down. Let’s cut this and let’s reduce that.
Doing this actually shows you what your spending habits are. Our habits are built around our desires and values. We will spend the most where we highly value or long for something. You can take the same type of inventories on time: where do you spend your time? How much time is spent on have to’s and how much on want to’s. Or, try prayer. Ask yourself: what kinds of things am I praying for?
If I were to ask myself this question, chances are (right now) what I’m praying for 80% of the time are tangible physical needs, wants, desires. God help us have more money so we can do this and do this. God keep us safe. God don’t let the next door neighbors tree fall on my roof during these high winds. God help me get all the things I need to get done this week. God help me get to my meeting on time. To pray for things is quite natural. It is the simplest most common form of prayer. Humans have tangible, physiological, and emotional needs. And in prayer, we ask God to meet these needs.
The Obsession over Things
Yet, the obsession over things as ends in themselves as the center of our world is the core of idolatry. When our gaze is fixed on the superficial benefits offered and gained in a relationship, the intimacy in that relationship dries up too soon.
Imagine a newly-wed couple. Husband is fired, they have to sell their new home, give back their car, live on the streets. But at least we’re in love, he assures himself, at least we have each other. But wife says “Goodbye, I’m leaving! I don’t want no scrub.” You would question whether there was any love between them in the first place.
When the people of Israel lose sight of God, and God’s presence, and God’s love, then they tend to get in trouble. They start whining and in-fighting, and grasping at and hoarding things for themselves. In the case of chapter 32, they turn to the Golden Calf as an immediate, tangible placeholder for God.
Intercession is praying on behalf of others
You set aside the individual self on behalf of the corporate whole. Or you set aside the singular need in order to focus on the needs of the other and lift that person or people up to God. Intercession is stepping in on behalf of another—between the person(s) and God in order to advocate and champion for them before God. In praying on behalf of another you are practicing love.
Show me your Glory
We need and long for God’s presence. Really we do. We may chase comfort and settle for the immediate gratification of our golden calves , but ultimately it is the longing for deep communion with God that fuels worship. We were created to worship and connect with creation, and the Creator in deeper ways. Rest from the stress and striving of life. Rest your bodies and rest your souls. Take in deep rest. In God we are set apart. This is how people know us as people of God. This is our marked identity. Moses knows his people need God’s presence and not just the promised land. Moses knows he needs this for himself. So he intercedes for his people to of God. “Show me your Glory!” He demands it audaciously. Show us God! Show us your face!