“Meeting God Face to Face”
Pastor Eric Martin
March 27, 2011
Scripture: Exodus 33:7-11; Hebrews 13:12-14; James 4:4
…when God talks about knowing Him, He is talking about an intense experience with Him that goes to the depths of our being. He is not simply talking about collecting information or throwing out spiritual words that sound good, and make you seem like you know Him. This introduces us to Exodus 33:7-11 which is about meeting God face to face.
Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp and he called it the tent of meeting. This was a special tent with a special purpose. The purpose is given in verse 7, if you wanted to inquire of the Lord, if you wanted to consult with God, if you needed to talk to God and have God talk to you; he says anyone who consuls the Lord would go to the tent of meeting. The tent of meeting was outside the camp. DON’T MISS THAT. In other words the tent of meeting was not inside the camp.
The camp refers to the nation of Israel. They would camp whenever the Pillar of Smoke stopped on their track through the wilderness. A camp site was set up. However, the tent of meeting was not in the middle of the camp site. The tent of meeting would be outside of the camp site. The tent of meeting was a special location that was distanced or separated from where the mass of people were. Why? Because this was a special place where when people really wanted to meet God they would go there. This meant they would have to leave the ordinary where you normally hung out [your own tent] and you had to make you way to a special place for a special purpose, because you needed to meet with a special person. Why was the tent outside the camp? God was no longer dealing with the people inside the camp. Remember, He said you are an obstinate people; I will not go with you. However, even though I am not going to collectively be with you, I will make myself personally available to the person who really wants Me. The person who really wants Me will go outside camp away from the masses. The tent of meeting is available to anybody who would seek to inquire of the Lord. If you really want me, come get Me! I am not hanging out inside the camp, because the camp is full of folk who call My name but don’t want Me.
Christian, if you want to hear from God you have to an outsider, you just can’t be part of the crowd, you can’t be satisfied with the fact that you showed up in church with everybody else. That makes you an insider, because you are with everybody else. There is nothing wrong with being with everybody else. But where God is doing His special work, where God is giving His special information, where God is talking to folk face to face like a friend is outside the camp. That is when the face to face meeting comes.
You can be inspired in church, encouraged in church, taught in church but church is not a face to face meeting. Church is inside the camp with the crowd. Outside the camp you are away from the crowd, away from all the religious activity and religious programming. Some folk are too tied to the world to go outside the camp. We don’t want to go outside the camp because we don’t want to go bearing His reproach. We don’t want the rejection that comes from being too committed.
James 4:4 says, Friendship with the world will automatically make you an enemy of God. Friendship with the world is being committed to this system. You are to live in this world, you’re supposed to go to work and work with non-Christians, this is living in the world. What God wants is for you to be in the world, like a boat is in the water. He does not want the water taking over the boat.
God is inviting you and He is inviting me to a special place. Time away from the distractions of life; time to meet with Him; time to get an answer from Him, about what we ought to do about us, about my situation. You see if I am hurting, I don’t need general conversation. I need divine guidance for me in this situation. God has given us more than enough information to wet our appetites to want to know Him, see Him, and experience Him. But that happens outside the camp. It does not happen in the midst of chaos and confusion. It does not happen when you are tied to this world order.
So what should you do? I challenge you to identify your tent. This is a place you go without distraction to be with God for extended, uninterrupted time. This is not quick five minute devotion before you run out the house. This is not two minutes of bedtime prayer. Intentionally go outside the camp, remove yourself from the everyday matters of life and say God we need to meet. This is just a once a week meeting with God, whatever day or time you choose to meet with God.
Some say, but I am not hungry for God like that. I know I should want to be it, I know I do need to do it, but I have been away so long that I don’t have the desire for it. You have lost your appetite for God, you are a Christian you have accepted Jesus, but through life circumstances through your own disobedience you have lost you hunger for God. How do I get the desire to even want to go outside the camp? Here is what you do. Press your way into the presence of God. Be in the place with others of the same mindset. If you can’t get there by yourself find somebody you respect and say work with me to help get me back on track.
Don’t settle for just religion or church service. Many have been in church for years and nothing has changed. My challenge to all of us is to make it a priority to meet Him in this special place, to hear His special voice in the midst of our special circumstances.