Pining After God
Updated: Jan 16
In Exodus 32, the Israelites corrupted themselves by crafting and worshipping the golden calf rather than the True God. Moses pled to God twice for their forgiveness (Ex. 32:11, 31), and although God does allow them to live, this act of wickedness is not without consequence. Prior to this event God had been going along in the midst of the people (Ex. 16:10) but following this rush to sinfulness God said, “…I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way” (Ex. 33:3). God would not be so close to them, although He would continue to bring them to their destination (Ex. 33:2). The departure of God from the midst of the people is described as a “sad word” and it caused the people of Israel to mourn (Ex. 33:4). Following this sad word from God the tent of meeting is introduced.
The tent of meeting was a place for those who sought God, but only when Moses entered would the pillar of cloud descend to the door, signifying the presence of God in the tent to speak with Moses face to face, as a friend (Ex. 33:7-9, 11). When Moses would begin traveling to the tent of meeting, a monumental scene would play out among the people: Everyone would stand at the door of his own tent and, “gaze after Moses until he entered the tent” (Ex. 33:8). When Moses entered the tent and the cloud descended, everyone would remain standing where they were and worship God (Ex. 33:8-11).
The people of Israel were pining after the presence of God. They were wishing God would come and speak to them, face to face, as a friend. They longed for God to be in their midst as He had been previously. They mourned over such a great loss as this, that God would no longer travel among them because of their own sin by which they had corrupted themselves.
In the New Testament the church is God’s new nation, His new people. A reminder of one of the great blessings the church enjoys is found in 2 Corinthians 6:16 where Paul writes, “For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” And again in verse 18, “‘And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty”.
Today the church has received what the Israelites had pined for: God’s presence in our midst and the joy of a familial relationship with Him as Father. But that relationship hinges on the diligence of every Christian to accomplish verse 17: “‘Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you.”
God will continue to welcome and walk with the church, as long as Christians continue to sanctify themselves to God through holy living, accepting what is righteous in the sight of God and rejecting what He calls unclean. May all Christians recognize this great blessing from God and learn from the mistaken Israelites: do not corrupt with sin, but instead separate from it and be holy to God.