What Distinguishes Us From Everyone Else On Earth

The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’  I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.  Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”  When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.  Exodus 33:1-4

God told Israel to go up to the land he’d promised them. He’d drive their enemies out as he had promised.  It would be a delightful land –  flowing with milk and honey. You’d think they would have celebrated.  Land, no enemies, peace, milk, honey, what more could they want? Yet something about what God said made it a “disastrous word” which caused them to mourn.

What was this “disastrous word”?

“I will not go up among you.”

God knew if his presence went with Israel, in his Holiness he would have to punish their sins and they would be destroyed. So he says you can have the land, peace, and bounty, but you won’t have me. And they recognized that having all God’s blessings without having God himself would be disastrous.

A little later Moses says to the Lord:

“If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.  For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (15-16)

It is the presence of the Lord that makes Christians distinct.

Not the fact that we go to church, or believe in God, or help the poor, or educate our children in some particular way, or have particular political views.  We are not distinct because we don’t use drugs or curse or watch certain kinds of movies.  We are distinct from all the peoples of the earth because we have the very presence of God with us, and because we have the distinct good news of God’s grace through Jesus.

Let’s praise God for the blessing of his presence with us. Of all the blessings we could have, there is none like this. If we have Jesus we have all the riches of God.  Let’s ask Jesus to manifest his presence through the Holy Spirit in our churches and lives.

May it be the presence of Jesus that makes us distinct.  If he doesn’t show up in our meetings, it won’t matter if we have the best worship, the nicest building, the most articulate messages.  Every time we get together on Sunday or Care Group or in other contexts, may we say “Surely God is in this place.”

  • photini

    GREAT post! This fits very well with the book I am now reading: "Everywhere Present" by Stephen Freeman Our lives are lived differently when we see God as present with us all the time as opposed to being "the man upstairs" and not here with us.

    http://www.amazon.com/Everywhere-Present-Christia

    • Mark Altrogge

      Well put photini! That's one of the main blessings of the New Covenant – God the Father and Jesus dwelling in us by the Holy Spirit.

  • Larry

    Mark,

    There is also a tell-tale sign from the new testament. We will be known by our love for one another. I think that is a natural outflow from continually being in His presence. We humans will love like He does if we are continually in His presence. And there is no way we can love like He commands short of His enabling.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Amen, Larry! Thanks for adding this.

  • Scott Troxell

    Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people. And He said, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:13, 14 NKJV)

    Jesus Christ is the Way and the only Way to the Father. When we know Christ who is the Way, then we know the Father and find grace in His sight. Jesus Christ gave us rest from the Law by accomplishing by His death and resurrection that which we could never do on our own. He truly is our rest.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Amen Scott! Thanks for adding your comment!

  • sevennotesofgrace

    If He doesn't show up in US then woe to us! We want His fruit to be so evident in our lives that when we get together, and non-Christians are among us, they can't but be amazed and know they are in the presence of Jesus. Amen! Pray that we would be his hands, feet, eyes etc…..and always keep Him in the central place as our Head (Colossians). Isn't it a great paradox that while we are hidden IN Christ at the same time He becomes evident IN us. Christ should not be hidden IN us, but the other way round. Thanks for a great post. Fits in with some Bible overview studies I'm doing at the moment….and I just taught some highschool kids this exact passage today in biblical studies.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hey seven notes, yes and amen! Thanks for adding these great comments.

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