TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Exodus 3:1-12; 33:1-4, 12-16
In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous address to dedicate the Gettysburg battlefield as a national cemetery. With concise, powerful words, he admitted the audience that day could do nothing to honor, consecrate, or hallow the land on which they stood. “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here,” he said, “have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”
President Lincoln’s message was, “This ground isn’t special because of what we do here, but because of what they did here.”
God tells Moses at the burning bush that the ground on which he stands is holy. It’s holy not because of some geographical feature of the land. It’s holy because God is there. Moses doubts he’s capable of leading God’s people out of Egypt. God doesn’t build Moses up by reminding how qualified he is; instead He tells him, “I will be with you.” Moses will be effective not because of who he is, but because of what God does through him.
God leads the Israelites out of Egypt, delivers them through the Red Sea, gives them food and water, and provides for His presence through the tabernacle and ark of the covenant. While Moses receives the commandments of the covenant on Sinai, the people fashion a calf of gold to worship. They no longer viewed Him as the holy and mighty God.
In response, God tells the Israelites He’ll give them the Promised Land with its sumptuous provisions. But He will not go with them.
Thankfully, they mourn this news and Moses intercedes on their behalf. God relents and promises to go with them. Moses then tells God, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here… Is it not in Your going with us, so that we are distinct…from every other people on the face of the earth?”
Moses doesn’t want to go anywhere — even the Promised Land — God won’t go with them. Moses knows he and the Israelites aren’t a holy people because of what they have done, but because of what God has done in them.
Imagine how a similar prayer could change our decisions, “If You won’t go with me, I won’t go there.” God doesn’t want us to be happy at the expense of our holiness. We can find temporary satisfaction in any number of vices, but we’ll never find lasting happiness in them. Living holy lives means we only go where God goes with us.
Today, I will…make a list of everything I want or need (possessions, experiences, relationships, etc.), then describe each item with, “This is making me _______” either happy or holy.