Our story today comes out of the book of Exodus. God had become very frustrated with the Israelites since He had brought them out of Egypt. It seemed they were never happy. They asked to be delivered and when they were delivered all they could seem to do was grumble and complain about their new surroundings. To the point at times of even wanting to go back, back to slavery and oppression. Moses was doing his best to lead the people but they were difficult. At the beginning of chapter 33 of Exodus God even called them a stiff-necked people. He had had enough. You see back in chapter 32 when Moses had disappeared to the mountain to meet with God for a bit, the people got tired of waiting for Moses and for God, so they decided to take matters into their own hands and make them a god to follow. They had taken all of their gold and jewels and fashioned a golden calf that they decided would lead them to the promised land. God was not happy and neither was Moses.
When Moses came off the mountain, after meeting with God with the ten commandments in his hands, he wasn’t quite ready for the sight he saw. The people were dancing and singing and worshiping this golden calf. Moses got so angry, he broke the tablets that the ten commandments were on and he, well he threw a fit all over them. This all happened in chapter 32 of the book of Exodus. But then the worst thing happened. God was going to leave them to it. God tells Moses at the beginning of chapter 33 that he could still lead the Israelites but that God would not be with them.
“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Exodus 33:3
Oh how awful! I hope I never anger God so much that He leaves me to my own devices. Scripture tells us that the people mourned when they heard this. But Moses uses his favor with God to ask a favor of God. Moses intercedes on behalf of the Israelites with God.
“Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’” Exodus 33:12-13
God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants would inherit the promised land, but He had never made a promise to them that He would be with them in it. God is sovereign, He is all-knowing, all-powerful and worthy of our full attention and praise. His decision not to go with the Israelites was a blow to them. The Israelites knew it, and Moses knew it. But it was God’s decision to make. But God grants the favor for Moses!
“And he said ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14
Moses wants a little insurance to the deal.
“And he said to him, ‘If you presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?’” Exodus 33:15-16
Moses is saying, I don’t want to go anywhere without you Lord! Please don’t make me!
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’” Exodus 33:17
Moses knew God well enough to ask Him a favor. God didn’t have to grant it. He did so because Moses walked with Him and because Moses asked. Have you ever asked God for a favor? I have and the key is to know that God has the knowledge, the power and the sovereignty to grant or not grant your favor. In this case He did grant it. I had a recent event that I needed God to move in, I asked Him for a favor to let me see movement before the week’s end. I can’t say that the matter is resolved, but God did allow me to see movement by that week’s end. And I was very grateful and told Him so. The key is to know that God may or may not grant your favor when you ask Him, but when He does it is so sweet. Be sure you say thank you!
May God grant your favors as He did with Moses!