God Leads His People into His Presence
Open Your Bible
Exodus 3:1-15, Exodus 6:1-8, Exodus 13:17-22, Exodus 15:1-3, Exodus 15:17, Jeremiah 7:22-23
God’s presence was with Moses and with Israel as they were brought out of slavery in Egypt.
When Moses left Egypt, he had no map, no idea of which way to go, or what awaited him when he arrived. He had the presence of God to guide him, and he hedged his future (and that of the hundreds of thousands of Israelites who went with him) on the voice he heard in the wilderness, who appeared with a sweeping claim of authority and sovereignty:
“This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
This story is a familiar one in Sunday school classes, Hollywood movies, and sermon illustrations. What I love about Scripture and these beloved stories is how many different lenses we can wear to examine them. While we could read this passage through Moses’s eyes, as I usually do, I believe it’s even more compelling to read it through the lens of God’s presence that was with Moses and His people.
Beginning in Exodus 3, God reveals He has come to Moses because of the cries of His people: “Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings” (v.7).
God was there in Egypt, with His people. His omnipresence, His everywhere-ness, meant that He never left. And so when He called them out of Egypt to go behind Him into the wilderness, they followed. In Exodus 6, God identified Himself to Moses as the God who had been with his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His presence wasn’t new, but it was revealed in a new, personal way to Moses.
God directed the Israelites’ route, not “along the road toward the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby” but “around toward the Red Sea” (Exodus 13:17–18). God wasn’t calling them out of oppression and then letting them stumble around, waiting for the stars to direct their steps; rather, He had a specific path for them to follow, one in which He would lead and they would have to learn to trust and follow Him.
His presence, provision, and promises are everywhere in this story. He was there, constantly providing for His people, whether defeating their enemies, sending manna and quail to nourish them, literally lighting their way, and more. He faithfully kept His promises to Moses.
This year, with its pandemic, politics, and personal tragedies, feels a little like the wilderness. I don’t know about you, but I would love a good map to show me how to navigate this season. Every road feels like a dead end these days, or maybe more of a roundabout that circles us around and around but never quite spits us out going in the right direction. None of the old paths work, and I’m not sure I want to go where these new paths are taking me.
When God called Moses, He didn’t promise him an easy road. In fact, Moses himself never made it to the promised land. But God did promise Himself, His presence, and His perfect provision. He was always there. Today, I need to know that those promises, and God’s unfailing presence, are mine as well.