Compassion is a complex topic. Last week we looked at how Jesus performed miracles with compassion.
Our text for today is Exodus 33:1-23. Here we see what happens after the children of Israel choose an idol over God. To them this idol was a golden cow, but to us it might be our work, our cars, our TV, or video games. That thing that takes a primary amount of thought. We can’t stop thinking about it and can’t stop doing it. That thing is an idol in our lives.
This can be deceiving because initially we might say, “Oh I’m not putting anything before God.” But challenge yourself to look at your thoughts. What are you meditating day and night on? Is it your problem? Is it your circumstance?
It’s become your idol. When you think about that thing day and night it becomes what you worship by default.
In verse 5 God calls Israel a “stiff-necked people” so set in their ways He couldn’t come among them. Are we so distracted with life and the cares here and now that God can’t make himself known to us? Are we so busy that we can’t be bothered to seek God’s face?
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Matthew 6:33 King James Version (KJV)
It can be tempting to live in this world and get distracted by the cares of life, the lust of other things, or the deceitfulness of riches, but God has called us out of the world to live in but not be like the rest of society.
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.1 John 2:16 (NLT)
In verse 7 of Exodus 33 we see Moses’ response to being surrounded by these types of people. It says, “Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting.”
We have to get our dwelling place away from the stiff-necked generation. We need to remove ourselves from the constant influence of people whose only goal is to achieve more and possess better.
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.1 John 4:5 (NIV)
We are in this world but not of this world. It says that everyone seeking the Lord would have to go here – outside the camp – to hear from the Lord. Oftentimes we want God to speak to us, but we want it in our time frame. We want to just fit God in between commercials on Hulu when we are bored. But God’s not interested in being the last thing on our list of desires.
Seek First the Kingdom
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God…”
In Exodus 29:42 we see this tabernacle of meeting described as a place where continuous burnt offerings are sacrificed in the doorway. The place is a “cathedral of praise”.
Moses brought God into the equation by removing the negative influences from his life. He didn’t remain in the tent forever. Moses still traveled out into the world. He was not a hermit or a man who started his own convent where he would shut the rest of the world out.
That’s the other extreme. The Bible says in Mark 16:15-16…
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.Mark 16:15-16 New International Version (NIV)
We are meant to GO into the world with the word of God, but not at the expense of becoming watered down ourselves. The moment we start acting just like everyone else is the moment our effectiveness has dropped.
Our Home Environment Matters
What we see from these verses is the response we as Christians have to have when we live and work in the world. We have to make our homes a place where God will speak to us by getting our minds off of the problem and onto God’s goodness and mercy by praising Him continuously.
This is what Moses turned his tent into. His home was a place separate from the world where he could communicate directly with God on a daily basis. God’s glory would rest over the house as he talked with Moses as a friend (Exodus 33:11).
After Moses did this we see in verses 12-14 that Moses had rest and had grace (favor) in God’s sight. Why? Because in verse 12 we see God says, “I know you by name…”. Today, because of Jesus if you are a Christian He knows you by name. And just like God’s presence went with Moses because He dwelt with God so will God’s presence go with us.
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”Exodus 33:18-23 New International Version (NIV)
From this place of continuous worship and offerings that Moses had offered in the tent he could say, “Now show me your glory.” and God could answer him looking forward to the Messiah (Jesus Christ) He said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.”
The rock that is near God which is Christ Jesus allows us today to come boldly into God’s presence and say, “Now show me your glory God!” and God can make all He is and all He’s done plain and open for us to see. He can have compassion on whom he has compassion. We now have the right by Jesus Christ to be joint heirs with God. We have the ability to continuously worship the one who will show us His glory so that we can shine that same glory to a world which is cold, dark and in need of Jesus.
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