If the LORD Doesn’t Go with Us, Who Wants to Go?
It is now after the disaster of the golden calf. The judgment of the Lord has fallen and many have died. There is weeping in the camp and dreadful anticipation of what is yet to come. Then the Lord speaks to Moses and tells him. Basically, the Lord says, “Go ahead and go up into the land that I am giving you, but I will not go with you. You are such a stiff-necked people, I might destroy you along the way. You’re on your own.” But then we hear something good: When the people heard this, they mourned.
So they were not completely without affection for the Lord. They understood that they had offended the Lord, and they understood that they had forfeited His presence. Where would victory come from? From where would reassurance spring? So Moses went to work again, interceding for the people. Perhaps this is a good place to remind ourselves of the importance of intercessory prayer. Moses anticipates Jesus’ office as our divine intercessor at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; Hebrews 7:25). And we have the responsibility and privilege to pray for one another as well (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
And unlike yesterday when Moses appealed to God’s glory, here he appeals to the salvation of His people. Moses wants the Lord to go with them that he and the people “might know you.” And it is this that is our salvation – knowing God – for it is in knowing Him, not about Him, but knowing Him, that saves us. So Moses appeals to God’s desire to save His people.
Then Moses appeals to God’s desire to have a people, His own people, a people set apart unto Himself. “Is it not in your going with us … that we are distinct … from every other people on the face of the earth?” It is God’s desire to have a people set apart unto Himself. This is what the doctrine of election is all about. God chooses a people to be His own, to be His prized possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, that we may glorify His name before the nations (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9). It is an act of sheer grace on God’s part. He doesn’t have to have a people. That He should call a people unto Himself out of sinful humanity and save them through the death and resurrection of His dear Son is nothing other than sheer magnanimity. But that’s how amazing grace is. And to think that one day, we shall behold Him, and not just His “back” as Moses did, hiding in the cleft of a rock, but face to face. For, “We shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).