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And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
Moses was a guy who God used to lead a group of God’s people out of slavery. God promised to give them this land that would basically have everything they could ever want. Along the way toward that land though, the people, including Moses, did not always remember to thank God for what He had done or follow His commandments. During one of these moments of disobedience God told Moses basically to go ahead and move into the land but that God was not going to go with them.
Moses couldn’t imagine moving forward without knowing God’s presence was with them so he told God, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15) Moses continued, explaining to God that His presence is what made this people different than any other random group of people.
In the middle of this back and forth between Moses and God, God says: “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” This word for rest could mean peace, or even physical rest. In the Old Testament it was also often used to describe a season without conflict and war between God’s people and others.
What catches my attention is that this verse implies the rest, whatever kind it was, would come along the way, in the journey. Generally, when we think of resting we think about STOPPING for rest. We pause for Sabbath or we put our phones away and close our eyes to sleep at night. We take a break as we walk up a mountain or we sit down on the couch at the end of the long day.
Yet, sometimes stopping for rest just isn’t possible or what God has in mind. In this verse we see God tell Moses that He will go with him and give Moses rest through His presence. There were times when Jesus longed for time away, planned for it, and it just didn’t happen (see Mark 6 for an example). Sometimes the rest and refueling comes simply because God is with us on the journey. While the Israelites were in slavery, they had no option to rest. Rest is a condition of freedom.
Sometimes you and I don’t have the freedom to rest either. Other times God calls us to serve sacrificially which may mean giving up some moments of comfort or rest. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us to rest; sometimes the rest comes while on the go.
- Whether through the presence of God or of another person, when have you experience peace or rest simply in knowing that you are not alone?
- How do you think you might be able to know when you are to stop and rest and when God will provide rest on the go through His presence?
Jesus, help me learn to stop and rest. But when that isn’t possible, remind me that You will go with me and give rest along the journey. Open my eyes to the fact that You are with me right now. Amen!