May 21, 2020
Exodus 33:7-11 (NIV)
7 Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. 8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Don’t you absolutely love this text? Here’s what I love about it.
1. Moses created sacred designated space for prayer and gave it a name: “The Tent of Meeting.” Have you ever created space for prayer? Would you consider it?
2. Anyone could go there if it was their purpose to “inquire of the Lord.” What a great phrase. Our prayers tend toward asking God for many things, but how often are we specifically, “inquiring of the Lord”?
3. This tent was set apart. It was “outside of the camp.” I picture a steady stream of people coming and going to do business with the Lord. It remids me of the Prayer Mountains the South Korean Church is known for.
4. Moses modeled this practice not in order to be a model but because it was the very source of his life. When people saw it happen it arrested their attention and they rose to their feet. The witness of true holiness is palpable. Everyone knew that Moses’ holiness did not come from himself or his practices or even his prayer life. It came from the Lord, who abided in the cloud.
5. Back to #2. People imitated Moses’ practice because they saw its power. How this would change our lives if we followed suit!
6. Verse 11 must be one of the top ten most profound texts in all of the Bible: The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. In those days, this kind of privilege was beyond rare. Unheard of would be more like it. For us, this is the common gift of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Now hear this: I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15) The problem is it not that it is common, but that we take words like these so casually. To the extent we are not utterly stunned and deeply encouraged by texts like these—to that extent we are asleep. Sorry. Good news is awakening is ever near to the holy discontented who will come to grips with this.
7. When someone, anyone, lives into and out of an authentic friendship with Jesus and really gives themselves to him it becomes a clarion call to worship to thousands and ultimately millions. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. Notice how even now, thousands of years later, this story awakens something deep within us inspiring us to rise up and worship this God.
8. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. The people in our lives are always watching, taking note of the things we can take for granted. From time to time, the Lord will entrust us with a “young aide,” a Joshua type, who will not only pay attention but will seem to double down their focus on what they glean from our lives. This is a picture of holy mentoring and there is an absolute dearth of it in our time. It’s no one’s fault. The reason most of us aren’t mentoring younger believers is because no one mentored us. What we need is a generation who will step forward as first-generation mentors; who will step out of their comfort zone and stumble awkwardly at times into a new kind of relationship. It reminds me of one of the first resources we ever released.
There’s only one thing I don’t like about the text from today. Let’s make it the unnumbered point #9. It’s the first line:
Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away,
I don’t like that Moses used to do this. Why did he stop? He must have gotten busy. Maybe the Tabernacle sort of replaced it. I’m sure it happened slowly and over time. Here’s why that bothers me. It’s because I used to have a “Tent of Meeting” too. It was a deep wilderness season in my life. At the same time, it was without a doubt the most profound and alive-in-the-Lord season I ever had in my life. And it permanently changed my life. I know I can’t go back, but I do want to find my way forward into another such “Tent of Meeting” season in my life now—and for the rest of my life.
Anybody want to join me in such a quest? It’s just the kind of thing one does in the wilderness—and beyond. Let’s encourage each other.
Father, reveal to me the deeper wisdom of your will and ways in the wilderness. I want a Tent of Meeting, Lord—a place where I can meet you face to face as a person talks to their friend. Lord Jesus, it is such a marvel that you would call me friend. Forgive me for neglecting our friendship. I didn’t mean to. Awaken me again, in yet a new way, to the depths of friendship with you. What could be better than that? I pray in your name, Jesus, a prayer I know you love to answer, Amen.
Which of the eight points above speaks to, encourages or challenges you the most today? Or is it the unnumbered 9th? Tell us about that.
P. S. About that email I sent you yesterday—come on! A Holy Spirit Summer Reading Book Club? This will be epic.
And here’s a short Daily Text trail guide for the way ahead: I’m thinking of slipping in a couple of short video posts on Friday and Saturday of this week, telling you the story of my own wilderness season many years ago, and of my Tent of Meeting. We will finish the Wilderness Series on May 31st, the Day of Pentecost. It will be a serendipity we could never have planned. And on Monday, June 1, we will dive into our first New Testament series of 2020, with Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.
For the Awakening,