The Presence of God

Read: Exodus 24:12-18 (NIV)

“The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.” Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.” When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”

Do you know the presence of God when you are in it? Do you know how to recognize the presence of God?

I love the story we find in the book of Exodus. It is about a people who have been delivered, redeemed, and brought out of slavery to follow God. Their lives were changed and they became a witness to the world for the sovereignty and grace of God.

In the beginning of the book, God raised up a Hebrew baby in the care of Egyptian royalty. Moses was his name because he was “drawn out” of the water. This tells the beautiful story of saving God’s people even before the major Exodus event later on.

At this juncture in the storyline, Moses is 80, check 80, years old! God was using the experience and wisdom Moses had learned in his time in the Egyptian palace, and in the wilderness to save God’s people from Egypt and lead them toward the promised land.

Think about that. An 80 year old man being used. I don’t know what season of life you are in right now, but you need to hear this, “God is not done with you.” Moses was obedient, though reluctantly, to the voice of God, and he was used in mighty ways to bring the people out of Egypt.

At the point of the narrative we pick up this passage, God is calling Moses “up to” him on the mountain. Moses had some of his closest and trusted people around him. Moses knew he needed their support. So, Moses goes up the mountain and the cloud engulfs the mountain. In other words, Moses was completely surrounded by the presence of God!

What do you think was going through Moses’ mind? He had already received the 10 Commandments and other aspects of the law, what more did he need?

God had so much more to share with Moses than just the “law.” He was teaching Moses how the people who had escaped from Egypt would be transformed into the people of God that would dl be the priests (representatives) of God in this world.

God was shaping the mind and heart of Moses to be the person that would help to lead the change in the lives of the people. This is the beginning of an awakening/revival among the Israelites.

That’s what the presence of God does. His presence brings about life change that will affect the other people around.

Throughout history, there have been movements of revival, of awakening, that God was using to call his people “up to Him on the mountain.” God was revealing the human heart and condition. God was and is still speaking life to His people.

That’s what revival does. Change hearts/lives that impact and bring about change in the community. The presence of God shapes the people to clearly see Him and Him alone.

In the 1700s, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, was part of such an awakening that 25% , at least, of all the world’s Protestants can trace their spiritual lineage through John Wesley.

Other revivals have occurred worldwide. The Azusa Street revival in the 1900s. The asbury University Revival in the early 1970s. And even now, at Asbury University, there is a revival/awakening happening that has been going on since Wednesday, February 8, 2023. And, as of, February 16, is still going strong! People from all over are joining in this movement of God.

This Holy Spirit led awakening is bringing people to confess and repent. People are accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives.

God is clearly making Himself known to this generations and it is an incredible thing to witness and hear about.

All of this is bringing about life change that will impact the world for the Kingdom of Heaven to be known and shown to the world.

To the rest of the world, these events looks strange. It is hard to image what is really going on unless you trust it is the presence and working one God through His mighty Holy Spirit. Unless you trust it is the movement of God, you will inevitably grow impatient and begin to search for other “meanings.” Just a few chapters later, the people of Israel grew tired of waiting on Moses to go back down the mountains that they formed and created their own “god,” a golden calf.

It’s easy to try and criticize movements we do not fully understand. It is easy to grow impatient as to what will happen next, or wanting to know how lives are truly changed.

What are the people doing at Asbury right now? They are staying and resting in the presence of God. They are wanting to know Jesus and be fully known by Him. What a time to live in!

Moses was unable to leave the presence of God while God was talking to him on the mountain. He was soaking up the words, the presence, the awesome wonder that is the Holy.

And God used Moses to convey His truth to the people of Israel, who were supposed to be the shining examples of God’s presence in this world.

God will always find ways to speak to his people. God will always find ways to break in and change people’s lives for His glory.

Jesus does this with His disciples.

Matthew 17, Jesus (God-in-flesh), takes three of his disciples on the mountain. 

Read the passage here:

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” (Matthew‬ ‭17‬:‭1‬-‭8‬ ‭NIV)

The disciples did not know how to respond. But they clearly saw Jesus. They heard the voice, from Heaven, speak.Their focus and attention was now shifted to Jesus.

That’s what the Spirit of God does. We are pointed to the person of Jesus. He is who we are being transformed into. He is our Lord and Savior.

The presence of God will always point us to Jesus.

So, what does the world see when they look at you? Do they see Jesus? How is God working, in your life, to revive your heart and focus on Him?

Revivals and awakenings are incredible. You never know, God may just be using you to help bring about the next revival to show more people the incredible presence of God.

Published by Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

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