“Go upto a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you area stiff-necked people.” And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. Exodus 33.3, 4
Israel had just sinned with the golden calf. In Moses’ absence, the people had become impatient for the blessings of God, so they sought and indulged these in the name of a false experience of God.
In spite of this grievous sin, God would honor His promise to give the Israelites the land of Canaan. He would even send an angel before them, and drive out the inhabitants of the land.
But He would withhold the blessing of His presence. Israel could have the blessings – if they could hold on to them – but they could not have Him.
The Israelites understood the gravity of God’s words to them. Having been slaves in Egypt, and now looking at wandering through the desert wilderness, they longed for the land of Canaan as a blessing beyond anything they could imagine. Yet without God’s presence with them in the land, this would be no true or lasting blessing at all. Thus, they mourned.
Unlike the Israelites, we often fail to grasp this crucial point. We confess our sins and proclaim our faith. We see others do the same. Then we join a church and get involved in a Sunday school class. We seek the blessings of God in worship – peace, joy, friends, security, and so forth. All of which are noteworthy and important.
But if we do not enjoy God’s presence, through His Word and prayer, we are missing the true blessing God intends for us – the blessing of Himself. If we will not seek the presence of God day by day, how can we expect Him to go with us in our daily lives?
In many ways, the church today has substituted the blessings God intends for His body for the blessing of being in His presence. We happily want to receive what God would give us, but are we panting and hungering to be with Him?
This is tragic, and represents a false gospel. Hopefully, many who today cherish the blessings of God more than God Himself will reach the same conclusion as did the Israelites, and mourn for their condition.
But without knowing Christ, and without seeking Him earnestly, day by day, they will never know the fullness of blessing – righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit – that He has in store for them.
This is the work of prayer, and God is seeking men who will lead His people into this work.
Let us resolve to seek the substance of all God’s promises, which is Christ (Col. 2.17). And let us pray that a fallen and hurting world will also discover the substance of God’s promises in us.
Ralph Lehman, Men’s Prayer Coordinator
T. M. Moore, Principal
You can enlist the men of your church in prayer by ordering several copies of If Men Will Pray from our online store (click here). Here is a 30-day discipline for helping men to get rooted and ground in prayer as partners in prayer together.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.