“And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” (Ex 33:15, KJV).
To the spirit filled believer, the presence of God means everything. The thought of being somewhere or in any situation where this Presence does not abide is not one that is entertained. Yet in our everyday lives, we often make the mistake of proceeding without making sure that we remain in the presence, and in the will, of God. Decisions seem to be made on the basis of our own evaluation. We often pretend as if we cannot bother our Heavenly Father with the routine things of our lives choosing instead to take matters into our own hands. More times than not, we fail miserably in our own efforts.
In our reference text, Moses made it clear to God that unless He was prepared to go with them, He should not carry them anywhere! Having being chosen by God to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, he would refuse to go anywhere without the abiding presence of the Almighty. What is interesting here is that in the preceding verse, God had already assured Moses that His presence would go with him. The man of God however sought the confirmation of the Creator that this would be the case. If not, “carry us not up hence”.
Today’s believer is also assured of God’s abiding presence. In Hebrews 13:5b we are reminded of the promise “I (God) will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We however need to bear in mind that the holy presence of God cannot go, and will not abide, any and everywhere. In the face of Israel’s transgressions resulting from their resolve to walk in their own way, the Holy One said “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face.” (Hosea 5:15). Seeing it is possible to proceed without God’s presence, and outside of His will, it is imperative that as believers we seek to ensure that wherever we go, and whatever we are involved in, God is there.
It is true that we are living in an age of liberalism. Christians who are determined to live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” seem to be in the minority as we struggle with political correctness, various forms of godliness, material temptation (a lust for things), personal temptation (a lust for status), and sensual temptation (the lust for physical pleasure). Competing in the workplace, homes, and school, often result in the compromising of spiritual truths. As the evil one goes about setting “thorns and snares in the way of the forward” (Proverbs 22:5), the need to have the presence of God with us becomes even more profound. Without it, we are fully exposed to the enemy who is more than happy and willing to destroy the errant child of God.
As we go about our daily lives, the spirit-filled Christian resolves to be led by the Spirit of God. A picture on my wall reminds me constantly that “God’s will never lead me where His grace cannot protect me.” As we walk what seems like a fine line, the spirit led Christian can, and will know, the mind of God providing we remain in submission to the Spirit. There is no point taking a job that pays quite a lot if that job is in an area where the presence of God would not dwell. There is no point in marrying someone if the presence of God will not abide in such a union. The only place we can find fullness of joy is whenever we are in the presence of God. David reaffirmed this when he said “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forever more.” (Psalm 17:15)
Are you a spirit-filled Christian? Are you seeking to abide in the presence, and in the will, of God? Are you fully dependent on the Lord to show you the paths of life? Are you fully submissive to the leading of the Holy Spirit? If you answered no the any of the above questions, may I challenge you to the realities that without the presence of God, you are extremely vulnerable to the wiles of the enemy. As you live your life, I challenge you to do it differently bearing in mind that if God’s presence does not go with you, there is no point in going. Purpose in your heart to say as Moses did, “If thy presence go not with me, carry (me) not up hence”. God can only protect those that place themselves in His care. Is that where you are?