“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.” Exodus 33:7-10
- “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.” Psalm 99:5
After their rescue from slavery in Egypt, the Isralites wandered through the wilderness for 40 years. During this time, a place of worship was established by the Lord. The “tent of meeting” was sort of like what a church would be today. It was where the believers gathered to hear from the Lord (through Moses & the priests) and the sacrifices were administered; however, the people were only allowed outside of the tent.. never inside. Only the priests who had been cleansed could enter the tent under set conditions.
- “When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of the tent.” Exodus 33:10
A few verses earlier, the Lord had been complaining to Moses about the Israelites and how obstinate they were and how He could be on the verge of destroying them for their disobedience…
- “…for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way.” Exodus 33:3
Why? The Israelites only worshiped God when His presence was physically manifested, such as, when it rained manna from heaven, when the Red Sea was parted, when His presence was visible in a pillar of fire; i.e., when their physical needs were stimulated and/or met. They quickly forgot the Lord when He wasn’t physically manifesting Himself, to the point where they even made their own ‘calf god’ and started worshiping it while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments.
- “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13
Their worship was contingent…. contingent on God’s tangible, physical presence & meeting their physical needs.
Do you only worship God when you can see or feel His presence? Would you worship when He is silent?
God desires our worship at all times, even when we cannot see, hear, taste, feel, or sense Him in any way. This is true faith, when we can worship even when we don’t see results.
- “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
God normally manifests Himself through His Word and through the promptings of His Spirit, though God also chooses to be silent at times during our walk.
- “By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27
Faith is continuing to persevere and trust in, and worship, the invisible God, because He has revealed His visible creation, His visible Son, and His visible Word.
- “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15
Father God, please forgive us for the times when we have not worshiped you because we were stuck in our own obstinate ways, wanting to physically see and feel you. We choose to believe you, trust you, and worship you for who you are, for what you have done, and for what you will do. We know that you are always present. In Jesus’ name, Amen.