Choosing God’s Promises or God’s Presence
By Dot Bowen
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way." Exodus 33:1-3 (NIV)
God gave every person the power to choose, but the responsibility of our decisions comes along with this power. Some choices carry more responsibility than others, and our choices determine the direction of our lives. Once we exercise our power to choose, we lose control. The choice we made is now in control.
The freedom to choose is one of my greatest fears. The option of not choosing is a choice. Each choice lays the foundation for our next choice, and with each choice comes greater risk. In Exodus 33, Moses was faced with the greatest decision of his life, yet it was not about leading God’s people out of Egypt. As they headed toward the Promised Land, God’s people chose to worship a golden calf. In response, God chose to leave them with their god. God challenged Moses to choose between the Promised Land and His presence. Moses had to choose between God’s promises or God’s presence.
Every day we are challenged with this same decision. Do we want God, or do we want His promises? Do we seek God for what He can do for us, or do we seek Him solely to find Him? The only way to truly be honest about our choice is to examine our reaction when it seems God withholds His promises.
Moses had several choices from which to choose. If he continued to travel with the Israelites toward the Promised Land, God would provide:
1. An angel to go with him 2. Victory over his enemy 3. Prosperity 4. An appetite satisfied with milk and honey
Or, Moses could choose the presence of God.
What would you choose? Our choice represents what we value most. When we choose the “things of God” over God, we might as well gather everything God has to offer and build a golden calf. We are all given the power to choose. And remember, after we choose, the power is in our choice.
Moses looked toward the Promised Land with all its treasures and said, “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Moses chose the presence of God over the promises of God. Later Joshua told his people, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Years later, the writer of Hebrews reminds us again to “Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have. Because God said, I will never leave you, never will I forsake you.” God’s presence is greater than His promises and His provision. What you value will be the determining factor of your choice.
Further Reading Exodus 33-34; Joshua 24:15; Hebrews 13:5