God's Presence

Genesis 11, Ezra 10, Psalm 10

Today, read Genesis 11, Ezra 10 and Psalm 10.

This devotional is about Psalm 10.

In this song, the psalmist wondered why God did not judge the wicked (v. 1), called on God to judge the wicked because of how they have victimized the weak (vv. 12-15), and affirmed his confidence in God to care for and defend the weak (vv. 16-18). In between his direct addresses to God, the writer described the wicked in verses 2-11. At the very end of his description, the psalmist wrote this about the wicked man: “He says to himself, ‘God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees’” (v. 11). That statement accurately sums up the mentality of anyone who sins. When we are conscious of God’s presence and aware of his watching eyes, we are able to say no to temptations. Like a shoplifter who is on his best behavior when he sees the security camera, each of us makes better moral choices when we are conscious of God.

The late theologian R. C. Sproul, who died last month, used a Latin phrase--Coram Deo “before the face of God” to sum up how a believer should live in this world. When we live before the face of God, it changes what and how we worship and how we live.

Apart from God’s grace, we all would live with the same moral abandon as the man described in this Psalm. We would sin as we wanted, comforting ourselves with the story that God will never know or notice. Jesus came to reveal God to us and to die for us so that we could live “before the face of God.”

Are you conscious of God during your daily life? Do you consider that he hears every word you say and watches your actions? If not, ask him to help you remember his presence with you and live in light of it daily.

Numbers 14, Psalm 50, Isaiah 3–4, Hebrews 11

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 14, Psalm 50, Isa 3–4, Hebrews 11. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Numbers 14.

From the time Israel left Sinai in Numbers 10, the tension has been building among the people of Israel. In Numbers 11 they complained about the manna that fed them and received two separate judgments from the Lord (vv. 1b, 33). In chapter 12, Moses’ own brother and sister gossiped against Moses and attempted to undermine his leadership (12:1) and God judged Miriam with leprosy, curable only through Moses’ prayer for her. In chapter 13, twelve spies explored the promised land and found it amazing. Nevertheless, they doubted God’s promises and were too afraid to claim the land for themselves (vv. 26-33). Here in chapter 14—right on the brink of receiving the promise—the people revolted against Moses and Aaron and were ready to go back and surrender to the Egyptians (vv. 1-4). Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb pleaded with the people to repent and claim God’s promise by faith (vv. 5-9), but their pleas were rejected (v. 10). God stepped in at this moment and announced his intention to punish the Israelites and start over with Moses (vv. 11-12). 

Here is where we see what a godly leader Moses was. He had been attacked and rejected personally by these people and could easily have been the greatest cheerleader for their destruction. Instead, Moses reminded God of his own reputation (vv. 13-16) and asked the Lord to show his strength (v. 17). And what was that strength? Not the swift hand of judgment but God’s character as patient and merciful (vv. 17-18). What Moses said about God in verse 18 is from the revelation of God Moses experienced in Exodus 34:6. That experience in Exodus 34 was not only for deepening Moses’ personal understanding of and walk with God; it prepared him for this day. Having learned of the great mercy of God, Moses was prepared to call on God for mercy when God’s people rebelled against both God and Moses. 

The things we learn about God in our lives make our faith in God stronger and our experience of God deeper but they also teach us how to pray. When we ask God for anything, it pleases him when we tie our requests to his very nature. It shows that our prayers are not just selfish demands for our own gratification; instead, when they flow out from our walk with God and our understanding of his nature, our prayers become pleas for God to show his glory in our world to others by answering our prayers according to his nature and will, not necessarily according to our desires. 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Exodus 40, John 19, Proverbs 16, Philippians 3

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Exodus 40, John 19, Proverbs 16, Philippians 3. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Exodus 40.

After months of collecting materials donated from the people of Israel and watching the skilled, Spirit-filled artisans craft the Tabernacle and all the tools and garments associated with it, the time came to put the puzzle pieces together. In verses 1-15, God gave instructions for how Moses was to assemble it all. Everything was to be done in order (vv. 1-8), then consecrated in a special ceremony to the Lord (vv. 9-15, including Aaron & his sons, vv. 12-15). Verse 16 told us that “Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him,” but then verses 17-33 detailed step-by-step that Moses did what the Lord commanded him. These verses even go into more detail than the instructions; for instance: 

  • Verse 2 says quite simply: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month.”
  • But verses 17-19 say, “So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames, inserted the crossbars and set up the posts. 19 Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering over the tent, as the Lord commanded him.”

Likewise:

  • Verse 3 says, “Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain.”
  • Verses 20-21 say, “He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the Lord commanded him.” 

Each of these sections describing Moses’ obedience ends with, “…as the Lord commanded him.” (v. 19, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 32). When Moses finished this work (v. 33), then “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (v. 34). In fact, “Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (v. 35). The book of Exodus concludes with these verses from our chapter today: “So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.” For those who knew the Lord by faith, this must have been an incredibly comforting and awe-inspiring thing. Here is the visible presence of God not only “with us” but leading us from place to place to the Promised Land. My heart longs for this kind of visible expression of God’s presence and favor. Although we have the seal of the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:13-14) and the witness of the Spirit with our spirit (Rom 8:16), we have to wait for eternity to experience God’s presence in such a tangible way (see Rev. 21:22-22:5). It will be worth waiting for, however, because our experience will be like Moses’ who saw God face to face (compare Ex 33:11 & 34:33-35 with Rev 22:4). 

And, even in our other passages today, we have the confidence of God’s leading—not in a cloud by day and fire by night but in Providence: 

  • Proverbs 16:3-4: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster.
  • Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” 
  • Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

Until the day when we are with Christ for eternity, we should pursue knowing and following him daily as Paul described in our reading from Philippians 3:7-14. When we follow him in faith, we will someday reach “the prize for which God has called me [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.