“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” – Exodus 33:11
As we have already discussed in Solitude on Sinai, Moses had an almost unbelievable relationship with Yahweh. He comes off of the mountain after 40 days and he is glowing. He worships and the cloud of glory comes rushing over an entire camp. Here he is talking with Yahweh face to face as a friend, but despite all of these encounters, he kept leaving too soon! This is referenced a lot when I talk about the secret place. Someone will inevitably say, “Well, you have to come off the mountain at some point. You can’t stay up there forever.” I want to ask you, how did that work out for Moses? Of course we have responsibilities that have to be taken care of, and we need to go out and reach the lost, but there is a more excellent way to do this!
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” – Joshua 3:5
Moses would have an encounter with God and immediately return to tell the people about it. This caused the people to become so dependent on him that if he ever stayed away for too long, they would fall back into idolatry and immorality. This is what happens in churches across America every week. Congregations are gathering completely dependent on a man to tell them what God is saying because they are not willing to remain in the tent alone during the week. If a Pastor were to ever have a moral failure or need to resign, his church would be shattered because they don’t know how to encounter God for themselves. Joshua deals with this immediately when he becomes the leader of Israel. You see, Moses would have an encounter with God and go tell the people what Yahweh was saying. Joshua has an encounter with God and tells the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” Joshua equipped the people to begin to encounter God for themselves. He allowed the people to experience the wonders of the Lord in their own tents, rather than being dependent upon the wonders that were taking place in his own tent.
“When you see the ark of covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” – Joshua 3:3
I want to be clear about something. When I write about the tent, I am not referring to your church. I hear so many sermons that take scriptures like this one and apply it to church attendance. I believe in the gathering together of the believers but if you honestly think that spending an hour and a half a week in a church to make yourself feel better about your compromise is going to suffice for a relationship with God then you are absolutely in error. The church was not supposed to be the place where you get your fix in for a few days before you go back again on Wednesday. The church service should be a celebration for all that the Lord has done. You should come into church on Sunday having had a week alone with God to celebrate and worship with other believers. Nothing is more exciting than meeting with other believers and sharing all the Lord has been speaking to you that week, only to hear your brothers and sisters say “I’ve been hearing that too!” This encourages me in the Lord! You should come to church and allow your Pastor to confirm what you have been hearing God say to you in secret all week, not require him to bring something new for you to hear to make up for your lack of devotion.
Do you see the pressure that this puts on our leaders? How much freedom would they experience if they didn’t constantly feel the pressure of being responsible for our devotional lives? Joshua addresses this as well. He tells the people, when you see the priest bearing the ark of the covenant, set out from your own place and go after it! The priest represents your leader and the ark of the covenant represents the presence of the Lord. When you see your leader coming with the presence of the Lord, let that provoke you to go after it in your own place! Let’s all commit to going after the presence in our own places, consecrating ourselves, and believing that the Lord will do wonders again in our own tents!