The church is to be known by the peculiar and particular presence of God.
Exodus 33:15–17 ESV
And he said to him, “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?”
And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”
• Moses is looking for something that sets the nation of Israel apart from anything else. He uses the word, “distinct.”
• Moses wants to be distinct. Though not through war strategy or military operations or politics, he wants to be distinct through the very presence of God.
When Moses asks for a guarantee of God’s favor, God shows Moses His visible presence.
› Moses wants God’s presence to be the peculiar and particular factor in His people. This is what makes them distinct and different.
› The church is to be known by the peculiar and particular presence of God.
• It is peculiar in that it is not repeatable. It cannot be replicated. It is particular in that God with us, His presence with us, commands a particular response.
• Let’s track this question of Moses. The question of the distinction of God’s presence turned into asking to see God’s glory. Moses saw that God was in agreement to His request to go with him so they took it one step further.
Exodus 33:18–23 ESV
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
• Moses is not satisfied with the experience of God, he has to see God. He has to understand the visible manifestation of God on the earth. And while Moses was unique in that experience, we know that God has made Himself known through Christ.
What Moses longed to see if perfectly shown in Christ. Christ is God’s guarantee of His presence. When we ask to see God’s glory, He shows us Christ.
• God shows Himself to Moses to communicate the depths and level He desires to be known. The depths and levels He goes to know others. God is a God in community and desires that His people be with Him.
Hebrews 1:1–3 ESV
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
• This can’t be overlooked, or overstated. Because we are looking at Moses request, that God would be the One to form them, to continue to shape them by His presence, we have to look at what that looks like now, and it is the person of Christ who shapes us.
• We are significantly shaped by others around us, what we see and hear and participate in what others do and are formed by them.
Philippians 3:7–11 ESV
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
The church is the reflection of God’s glory. When the world asks to see Christ, God points to the church.
John 17:20–23 ESV
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
• Look at what Jesus is saying. The church is to be in unity, to be one, and in so doing, they will see God. When the church is acting in unity then the world will see God. The church is the glory of God on the face of the earth. We are His visible presence.
Built and borrowed
• Some of the church’s witness is borrowed, meaning that it is not because of what we have done, it is because of how people have interpreted our role.
• But some of our witness, or lack thereof, is built. Meaning we have to own it. We have not always represented Christ well.
• God has given the church the responsibility to reflect the glory of God. He has not given the world the responsibility to understand it well. So I can’t control how the world interprets what we do.
• But I can focus on the high responsibility of unity in the church for the sake of the Gospel. I can focus on God’s commands for us as a church to represent Him well.
• No matter the world’s response we are going to have to answer to Jesus for how we lived in this world and how we reflected (or did not reflect) His visible presence.
Acts 2:1–4 ESV
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
• We see this same action happen in the tabernacle in Exodus. God’s presence on the mountain and His glory in the camp and His glory in the tabernacle, even His glory in the burning bush. All flames. All His glory, His visible presence.
• God, by His Spirit, has empowered the church to be His public witnesses in the world.
• Be casual anywhere else, don’t be casual in your relationships.
Available Saturday Oct 29