In Exodus 33 Moses asks the Lord whom he will send with him as they travel to the promised land. The Israelites had just built an idol in the form of a golden calf because of their impatience. They did not think that Moses would return from the mountain.
They thought, “He has abandoned us. We need to create something that will represent the God (gods) that brought us out of Egypt! Moses’ presence has left us. He speaks to us on behalf of God because God is way too scary for us and now we are afraid that Moses will not return.”
“Make us gods who will go before us.” This was the Israelite’s request of Aaron who was left to lead in Moses’ absence. We, like the Israelites desire to be connected to something greater than us. We will attach ourselves to things that we have created. We worship created things instead of the Creator. We will venture out into the desert in hopes of finding the “promise land” with our created things instead of waiting for the presence of the Lord to guide us.
On the mountain, God had given Moses instructions on how to build the tabernacle. It would be a place for Moses or someone designated to meet with God and commune. When Moses came down from the mountain and saw the Israelite’s disobedience he made his own temporary tent away from the people to talk with God “face to face.”
The Israelites thought they were doing the right thing by making a golden calf. Instead they should have waited for the Lord’s presence to lead them.
God was upset at the Israelites’ disobedience and threatened to go no further with them. God thought that if he were to travel with them he would surely kill them. Moses knew that would be a disaster. “Who will you send with me?,” could be an appeal to what people would go with Moses.
“If I go alone without the people what kind of laughing stock would we become then?”
“Their God rescued them only for them to die in the dessert. They had a better fate as slaves.” This would be the talk from the Egyptians and other nations.
“Don’t send me without people! Don’t send me without your presence.” Moses expressed a desire that we all must grow inside of us.
It is a realization that I cannot do this life alone. I need people. I need God. I need “we.”
Jesus is our Moses and our bodies are now the tabernacle. The tent of meeting is not away from the people but we are now God’s Holy space. With Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of God he loosed the Spirit of God to come live in us. Through faith and baptism, we receive Him. When we receive the Holy Spirit we receive the triune God. I am now “we.” I am not only connected to God’s presence but to all who have received the manifest presence of God.
God is with us and were he goes we should go. Our desire is like Moses’. I will not choose to go ahead of you but I will choose to keep in step with you. Your presence within me must go before me. Your presence before will lead me to go behind. When I am behind you I will be with the church. Together we walk.
“We” go together in the presence of the Lord. Sometimes through the desert but always on our way to the promised land, bringing down a piece of heaven all along the way.