The Lord promises to be with the children of Israel. This is a promise He’s made before, but He seems to be renewing his promise now, after the recent events that almost resulted in the children of Israel getting themselves wiped off the face of the earth. Moses is instructed to move the carefully constructed tabernacle away from the camp, and God speaks to him face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend. Moses asks the Lord to stay with his people, and the Lord promises that he will do it. He also gives Moses what strikes me as the best promise of all —
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
I’ll admit, I lingered on that for a little while as I was reading. I will give thee rest. Moses has earned it, in my opinion. He’s lived a long and fruitful life. He’s done much and endured much. He’s gone through great trials and he’s withstood temptation. He’s maintained his integrity and, if he’s whined much after that initial meeting where he kept trying to wriggle out of the assignment God was giving him, we don’t hear about it.
Unfortunately, I don’t think God was promising Moses rest of the “put your feet up and kick back for a while” variety. We’re almost at the end of Exodus, and I know how the story ends. And though the idea of God saying to me, I will give thee rest, sounds appealing on one level, I’m not ready to put my feet up and kick back just yet.
In verse 17, God tells Moses that He knows his name. That’s another little factlet that gives me pause. After everything they’ve been through together, I would have thought that Moses knew this already. But maybe he didn’t. Maybe this was news to him. Maybe a lot of what Moses did, he did based on whispers from the Spirit. And if that’s the case, that makes everything Moses did even more incredible to me. The evidence of faith always amazes me.
In Chapter 34, God talks again about the commandment to not have any others gods before Him. He talks again about the concept of tithing. And He talks again about the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. These three principles seem to be very important to God, probably because they’re three of the most difficult for most of us to live up to. We may tithe, but we don’t tithe off the top of our income. We play catch up. We make sure we’ve paid ten percent by the end of the year, but we don’t consistently give the first and best.
Putting God first in our lives isn’t easy, and most of us struggle with this concept, too. Other commitments become more important. Other things consume our thoughts most of the day. Other endeavors use up our passion and our energy, and we give God what’s left over when we’re through. Not exactly what He’s asking us to do.
And keeping the Sabbath Day holy? Refraining from all work except what’s necessary for us to eat? Refraining from making others work? That almost seems like a lost concept in today’s world. And yet it’s one that God has already revisited several times since He first introduced the idea not so long ago. It’s important to Him. Maybe we should make it more important to us.