— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, my mind has just kept going back over the last few days to something in Exodus chapter 33. And, every attempt on my part to try to pin it down and get it organized has met with resistance. So, praise God, that’s the way He wants it. That’s all right. So, Lord it’s on You. Just take control this morning.
But Moses was in a difficult place here. He had just spent 40 days up on Mount Sinai getting the tablets. And God had…I mean, 40 days, 40 nights, no food, no water. This is totally miraculous…in the presence of God. God writes with His finger His Laws, His Ten Commandments.
And he comes down, and what he finds is the people have suddenly gotten distracted from waiting. They’ve given up on waiting and he’s just gone, we’re on our own, so let’s make us gods and go back to Egypt. You know, so they make the golden calf and they dance and they have this pagan party. And now, Moses has to come down from the presence of God and that’s what he runs into.
And they have to deal with that. And, there’s a great judgment. There are a lot of people that die. I mean, this is no small thing. We just sort of read over this, like okay, there’s just a few verses, and…but I mean, this was a deep, difficult situation.
God had called this man to come and lead the people out of Egyptian bondage. He didn’t want to do it. You know, we’ve pointed out that many times, how many times he kept arguing with the Lord…send somebody else. I’m not your guy here. And the Lord wouldn’t listen and sent him anyway.
And then, against all the odds, we see the Lord sending plagues, we see them backed up to the Red Sea, we see every impossible situation that you could imagine arise. And there he is and then God does this incredible thing of opening the Red Sea, and they walked through with walls of water on both sides.
And they get to the other side, and oh my God, this is amazing. They have a dance. And of course, Pharaoh’s army is destroyed in the same water. And so, everything now…they’re brimming with confidence. I mean, they should be. And here’s Moses who has just come down from this incredible experience. And now, he has to deal with this.
On top of that, the Lord sends them a message and tells them to go on to Canaan, I’ll give it to you, but I ain’t going with you. That’s not exactly how it says it here, but anyway, that’s what He said. I ain’t going with you. I’ll send an angel. Go up, but I’m not gonna be there, because if I hung around with you guys, I might kill you…the kind of people you are! You’re a bunch of unbelievers, bunch of…so anyway…they’re…oh my God, they put off their ornaments and they’re…they’re just hanging their heads and wondering what’s going on here…what’s gonna happen?
And it makes the point…that Moses, during this time, there was…I guess, they were working on the Tabernacle. It was still to come…I’m trying to remember the timeline. But he had a, what they called a Tent of Meeting. And this was a tent that was outside the camp, and you remember that when they were going through the wilderness, there was a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. What did that represent? What was it, I mean? It was His presence. It was God’s presence.
And so, there they were, and so, he would go in there, and when he went in that pillar would come down right in front of the tent. Wouldn’t that be something to see? All of a sudden, you’ve got a cloud that descends and comes right down. And then it says, He talked with Moses as a man does his friend, face to face. This was…a pretty amazing position God had put Moses in.
And so, Moses is now meeting with the Lord. And then, now we come to the part in verse 12, when the Lord…when Moses begins to talk to the Lord! Think of the situation he’s in. You’ve put me in charge of a bunch of people who don’t have a clue what’s going on. If you back off a little bit, they’re gonna…all the heathen stuff in them is gonna come out, and You told me to lead them. We’ve just led them…I know what’s just happened, but I mean, this is…I’m feeling pretty…you ever been in situations where you just know what’s right to do and you feel extremely unable to do it, you feel inadequate? This means…yes.
( laughter ).
( laughing ).
Because I know we all get in places like that. But anyway, you can imagine what Moses was feeling. He’s got millions of people on his hands, and the Lord is saying, I’m not going with you.
So anyway, “Moses said to the Lord, You have been telling me, Lead these people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, I know you by name and you have found favor with me. If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.
“The Lord replied, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Then Moses said to him, If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (NIV).
That’s the scripture that just kept coming back to me. What else? There’s only one thing that could possibly make us any different from anybody on the planet. Do you realize that? See…you remember how the Lord told Paul…said, not many of you are wise, not many of you are noble, influential and all of that? God’s called kind of the ordinary people because He wants to show who He is.
Folks, we need the Lord. I don’t care what’s happened in the past. I don’t care who we think we are. We are no different than anybody else on the planet unless the Lord is in our midst. That’s the only difference. I mean, what else will distinguish us?
And you think about Moses. I mean, the place he was in. Ancient…you remember how God scattered the nations, scattered the peoples of the earth at Babel? And, He scattered them all around the world. And every place you had a group of people…it would be a tribe, it would be a…they would form a city, they would form sometimes a kingdom. Every one of these wound up having their own sense of identity. Every one of them had their gods.
And I think what a lot of people don’t realize…those gods were real. Did you ever realize that? You’re not just talking about some imaginary thing that we’ve got to imagine something that’s with us. There were real powers involved. There were real fallen angels, I believe, who literally set themselves up as gods over different peoples.
So, when you’re dealing with the gods of Egypt, you’re dealing, not just with the Egyptians, you’re not just dealing with their armies, with their swords, with their chariots, you’re dealing with their gods. Man, you better have something on your side besides just you.
You think maybe in this world that we live in, we might need something besides us? “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (KJV). That’s the world we live in. God has called us to live in this time, in this place, and there’s not one of us who is the least bit adequate to do anything that is of any real value.
You know, one of the worst things that you want to feel, from a natural standpoint, is to feel really, really small and helpless, and incapable of doing what you know you ought to do. But nobody here ever feels that way, right? But do you know that it’s God’s goodness that brings us to places like that, where we say, oh God, oh God!
How easy is it, how easy is it for us to just kind of rock along? We lean on our own understanding. We lean on our traditions and our habits as though, if I just keep doing…well, what I’ve been doing works. It might not be perfect, but it gets me through, so I will just lean on what I know and I will just keep doing it and God will show up.
How many of you think that’s the way it is? We’re gonna need…we need the Lord. We need Him every single moment of our lives. And I see, not only what the Lord was trying to do with the people in general, but God had brought Moses to a place, where…it’s like he’s standing there saying, God, I didn’t want to do this in the first place. Now, you’ve put me in this place, and then You tell me You’re not going with me! I mean, give me a break! How am I gonna do this? And there’s something…there’s a yearning that’s coming forth from his being, a sense, a feeling of his need!
Oh, how many of you know how wonderful and how blessed it is when we feel our need? You’ve got people who think they can handle life, and go through, and they’re gonna lean on their own understanding, they’re gonna lean on their own abilities! And Moses is saying, oh God, You told me to do all this. You’ve got me out here in the middle of the desert. What in the world am I gonna do? Now, You’re telling me You’re mad at the people and You aren’t going with them. Oh, God!
I just sense in my spirit, that the Lord is wanting to get us to, maybe shake off some of our complacency…and come to a place where we cry out and say, oh God, I don’t care what’s happened in the past. Thank You, for every time You’ve been among us. Thank You! But that isn’t what I need. I need You now! We need You this morning. We need You today.
You think of the situation that the Church in Laodicea got. The Lord didn’t say, you’ve gotten into error. You’re doing this, you’re doing that, you’re doing the other thing. What had happened, they had gotten so complacent, that Jesus was not really in the midst! He wasn’t active!
They were carrying out…they were saying the right words, doing the right things, going through their daily lives. We’re God’s people—we’re God’s people, and Jesus was outside. We need Him. Think about, especially going into a meeting. But it isn’t just for meetings. I feel my need. Anybody here feel your need?
( congregational response ).
Thank God that there’s a capacity to feel a need! But I believe with all my heart God wanted to do something for Moses that would enable him to handle the situation. But in order to get there, the only way was to come to this place of desolation!
And I want to tell you this morning, if you’re there, don’t you wallow in that and think, oh, poor me, I’m nothing, I’m no good, I’m this, I’m that! Of course, you’re no good! That’s why we need a Savior. You know, from heaven’s point of view, we aren’t! But I’m so thankful that’s irrelevant!
We sang so much about the cross this morning, and how Jesus paid it all, and with His dying breath said, it is finished! God wants us to learn how to rest in that, how to…for that to become the defining factor of our lives, that Jesus paid it all and He’s real, and He’s alive and He’s with us and He’s among us. Oh, how easy it is to descend into something else.
Folks, we need to be…we need to be crying out when we’re aware of it. But we need to be thankful when God brings us up short…and you can’t feel Him, you don’t know where He’s at, you don’t know what’s going on, you’re facing something that you can’t handle, because the truth is, we can’t, not God’s way.
I’m so blessed, and I believe the Lord was blessed, because Moses acknowledged what the Lord had said, but now he’s beginning to ask. So, what’s the content of his asking? Is he just saying, God bless me, go with us? He’s saying, first, teach me Your ways!
Do you know that’s at the heart of a relationship with God? How many people are there in the world who want God’s blessings, as they define blessings? I want a comfortable life. I want a better job, a better house, more money, perfect health. God, give me Your blessings! But here’s somebody who gets it, who understands this isn’t just about what God can do for me to make me feel better. This is, God, I want to know Your ways.
Do you see the difference? How many of us willing to cry out, oh God, I just…I’ve got my ways, I’ve learned how to face life in certain ways, and there are ways I think about things, and ways I look at people and situations, there’s a way I react. But God, I know that my ways aren’t Your ways.
The Lord said to the prophet, My ways are not your ways…as high as the heavens are above the earth. But you’ve got somebody that comes to this place where they’re someone after God’s own heart. They’re gonna be saying, God, I just don’t want you to be with me and make me feel good, I want to know You, and I want to know Your ways.
Do we not see that in others in the scriptures? David was a man after God’s own heart and you constantly have this sense…God, I want to get close to You. God, I want to know what You’re like. I want to become more like You. Oh God, help me.
You know, that comes from a heart that first of all is willing to take that low place, and say, oh God, I’m not as great as I would like to think of myself. I’m not this wonderful person I would like to think that I am. God, I’m a sinner. Left to myself, there’s not one good thing that I could do.
I don’t know if we realize…you know, again, Moses is thinking about a people, groups of people and all that, and says, what else is gonna distinguish us if You’re not with us. But he’s basically saying, we are basically like everybody else. But do you know that comes right down to individuals?
How many of you ever look at the news and you see some horrific situation, where wickedness just really comes out, and there’s some horrible crime, some horrible war, whatever it is…some event, and you see human nature at its worst come out…how many of you can look at that and say, there, but for the grace of God, go I?
You know, the Lord in His mercy has allowed most of us, I think, to be in situations where we were trained and taught, and we learned how to manage human nature, so that it doesn’t really come out in all its ugliness. Thank God! You wouldn’t have civilization! You wouldn’t have anything.
I mean, what do you think would happen if suddenly the power went out…society collapsed? What do you think would happen? It would be chaos! There would be armed gangs who would rape and pillage and kill and do whatever they wanted to do. It would be horrifying. Boy, I thank God for keeping the lid on!
But folks, God will do with His own whatever it takes to bring us to that place where we can say, oh God, I cannot possibly look at me, I cannot possibly begin to think of myself as adequate. But, oh God, the only thing that can possibly make me any different than anybody else on the face of this planet is You, and I want You.
See, this wasn’t just acknowledging a fact. This is, oh God, please come! I’ve got to have You! Do you ever feel that kind of a…almost a desperation? You’ve been in a situation where you just feel so desolate and so weak, you just cry, oh God, help me! By the way, didn’t Jesus do that? Ah! “…Strong crying and tears…” (KJV). He prayed and God heard Him.
You know, I believe with all my heart that’s what God is looking for from a lot of us. We, so easily, get complacent and even proud. And God wants to bring us to this place where He can come and just…He longs to take us in His arms and show us how incredible He is and what His purpose is for our existence! And we’re just so…things are cool, got my life, I know how to handle stuff. Oh God, we need You! God, we need You!