Moses and the Tent of Meeting
"Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp." Exodus 33:7
Stories of Moses and the presence of God stir up my desire to meet with my heavenly Father face-to-face. We read in Exodus of God’s faithfulness to lead, speak to, and encounter Moses. We read of Moses coming before his God boldly and asking for his hand in delivering and forgiving his people. Today, let’s look at the story of Moses and the tent of meeting found in Exodus 33, and allow it to guide us into more consistent and impactful encounters with the living, all-powerful, and all-loving God.
Exodus 33:7-11 says,
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Moses, a sinful, murdering, and fearful man, was able to see the living God “face to face” and speak with him “as a man speaks to his friend.” Picture that tent in your mind’s eye. Picture the cloud of God’s presence descending from heaven in a way that everyone could see. Place yourself in that tent, hearing Moses talk with God, seeing the glory of God face-to-face with a broken, sinful man. What a picture of God’s heart for us! If Moses could enter into the presence of God, surely all of us can. If Moses could speak with God face-to-face, surely we who have been bought with the blood of Christ can. If God would encounter Moses, speak to him, and guide him, he will surely do the same for each of us. In humility today, let’s learn from this man who so faithfully encountered and followed God. Let’s allow this story in Exodus to teach us how we might more fully and consistently meet with our heavenly Father.
The first thing we learn from this text is that Moses set up a place to meet consistently with God. It is crucially important that we find a place we can consistently seek the face of our heavenly Father. We need an uninterrupted time and place to rest in his presence in order to live our lives with his Spirit, word, and love as our foundation and fuel. Where can you meet with God consistently? What time in your day can be uninterrupted? The best time for me to meet with God is early in the morning before the rest of the world awakens to rush and busyness. When I don’t make time at the beginning of my morning to seek God’s face, I scramble to find pockets of time throughout the day. And without this dedicated meeting with God, I have a much more difficult time living my life in light of the glorious goodness I can only discover in his tangible presence. Without consistently encountering my heavenly Father, I struggle to remain free from the burdens, lies, and sin that so easily entangle me though I have been set free by the blood of Jesus. May we be children of God who learn from Moses and make space and time in our lives to meet with our One, True Source of abundant life.
Next, we must believe that God longs to encounter us just as deeply as he longed to encounter Moses. God loves each of us to the absolute fullest extent possible. You are created for intimacy with your heavenly Father. There is no other path to the abundant life and destiny he has called you to than life lived in his presence. And there is no other way to live in step with his Spirit than spending time consistently encountering his presence. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” God’s greatest satisfaction is spending time with his children. His greatest joy is meeting with you face-to-face as he did with Moses. So great was his desire to encounter you that he offered up his only Son as payment for restored relationship. Believe in his desire to encounter you, believe that he will reward you when you seek him, and believe that you will discover a deeper reality of God’s presence than you have ever encountered.
Lastly, know that as you encounter God consistently and abundantly, you will draw others to worship and seek a greater relationship with your heavenly Father. Exodus 33:10 says, “And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door.” We are designed to encounter the presence of God. We are made to see him face-to-face. So, living as God designed you—by consistently encountering his presence—will lead others to do the same. Others will see in you what they were created for and begin to pursue deeper relationships with God. The best way to lead others to God is out of consistent encounters with him. In encountering him, we naturally begin to become like him and therefore reveal his heart in all that we do.
May you be drawn into deeper encounters with your heavenly Father, whose love for you knows no bounds. Follow the example of Moses and find a consistent place to spend time seeking God’s face. Have faith that God longs to encounter you and to make himself known to you. And as you spend time in his presence, may you naturally lead others to do the same.
Spend time in worship and guided prayer allowing God to reveal himself fully to you.
1. Meditate on how Moses met with God face-to-face and spoke with him.Allow God’s word to stir your desires to meet directly with him as Moses did.
“When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses.” Exodus 33:9
“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Exodus 33:11
2. Now seek the face of God in faith. Come before His throne boldly by the blood of Jesus. Believe that He loves you and longs to encounter you. And open your heart to receive all the love He would pour out on you in this moment.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
3. Rest in the presence of God. Spend time talking with Him, receiving more of Him, and being transformed by His nearness. Receive His love. Cast your burdens on Him. Talk with Him about anything that is weighing you down today.
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”Ephesians 3:17-19
“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 36:5
“[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
While we only see a glimpse of God here on earth, a glimpse of Him is unequivocally better than any other sight. A glimpse of God is more powerful than a rushing wind, more real than your own skin, more vast than the oceans put together, and more satisfying than time spent with your closest friend. Whatever longing that feels unsatisfied can be quenched with a glimpse of your God. Run to His presence when you have need, or when you feel attacked or unfulfilled. Run to your tent of meeting when you need refreshment or guidance, or to talk with God. May you grow in your desire and ability to meet with your heavenly Father face-to-face, to talk with Him and to be satisfied in His love.
Extended Reading: Exodus 34:29-35
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