“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” (Exodus 33:11)
Sometimes we have a hard time believing that God will do what he says he will do. Can he get me out of the mess I’ve worked myself into, putting things together so this will really work out for any kind of good — mine or God’s? “All things work together for good?” Really now, all? Or giving us the victory over a weakness — I’m reluctant to call it what He probably does, “sin,” something that has plagued me for years. “Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ!” Really now, always? Perhaps there’s some persistent temptation like a loose tongue or volatile temper or irresistible lust for something or someone. Can God really give victory? Or perhaps you struggle with other promises like “my God will supply all your needs” or “I will be with you always” or “my peace I give to you.” Maybe the promised fruit of the Spirit just doesn’t ripen: love for that particularly unlovable person in your life, or joy when things are truly miserable. You wish you could see the touch of Holy Spirit power on your witness or ministry — the way he promised. Sometimes it’s hard to believe the promises.
If it’s sometimes hard to believe absolute promises, what about trusting him to do something he has not promised? Like healing my arthritis? Showing me plainly which option I should take in a decision I must make? Protecting my son as he risks his life? Those are all unpleasant or scary parts of life right now. Oh, he has promised to heal in answer to prayer, to guide, to protect. But heal this illness, now? Guide me infallibly in this particular choice? Protect all believers from all harm? There are no guarantees. Sometimes it’s hard to trust him with the outcome when he doesn’t let us in on what he has in mind.
If it’s sometimes hard to rely on God when he hasn’t revealed His will, what if he has revealed His will and you trust him not to do it? Now, that would be some kind of faith! And that’s exactly the kind of faith Moses had. Not just on one heroic occasion, either; it seemed to be part of Moses’ friendship with God.
God was furious. “Out of my way, Moses,” he said, “I’m going to wipe out the Israelites and start over with your descendants.” In a few short weeks they had forgotten God’s mighty deliverance from Egypt and gone to worshiping a gold-plated bull. What did Moses say? What would you say? Moses begged God to change His mind! he prayed against the clearly stated purpose of God (Exodus 32:11-14). What faith! How we would love to have that kind of faith! How did Moses get it? Was he born with it? Did it come of his early environment? Hardly. His early environment was in a foster home, the palace of a pagan Pharaoh! And his first attempt to serve God and his people was disastrous. In fact, he failed so badly he apparently developed a stutter and he certainly went on the lam for 40 years. That was how much courage and faith he had. Sounds like we feel, sometimes. How, then, did Moses develop such mighty faith, such a tight relationship with God? If we found out, it might give us a clue on how we can grow in faith. The story is found in Exodus 32 & 33. Pause now and scan those two exciting chapters, looking for clues to Moses’ incredible faith.
First of all, Moses spent time with God. To trust a person, we have to know them, and to know them, we need to spend time with them. It’s risky to trust a stranger too much. Moses spent time with God, lots of time. So much time, in fact, that when he left one encounter with God, people could see God’s own glory lingering about him (Exodus 34:28 ff). Notice several things about Moses’ prayer life.
His times alone with God were part of his daily life. He set up a special place to meet with God, called the “tent of meeting” (33:7). There God talked with him, “face to face.” Exodus 33:11: “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” That’s the kind of close friendship Moses had with God. Intimate. God knew him by name, not account number. God accepted him, favored him, and companioned with him, we’re told. A survey showed that American evangelical pastors, on average, spend 7 minutes a day in prayer. Is this enough time with God to get to be friends, to grow in faith? If you want your faith to grow like Moses’ did, are you prepared to spend regular, daily, extended time alone with God?