Every Thought Captive

Longing for the Presence of God

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 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.

Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in Your sight, please show me now Your ways, that I may know You in order to find favor in Your sight. Consider too that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to Him, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and your people? Is it not in Your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and Your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”

And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me Your glory.” And He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you My name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” He said, “you cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me where you shall stand on the rock, and while My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

Exodus 33:7-23

Do you long for the presence of God?

Moses knew God’s presence among them is what made Israel distinct (Exodus 33:16). He knew that God, not the land He promised or the things in it, was Israel’s promised portion (Exodus 29:45-46). Without God’s presence, both Israel and the land God promised would lose their meaning. They were God’s, and He was theirs.

Do you ache and yearn to see His face, to know Him—not the blessings He brings or the gifts He bestows—but He Himself and the glorious splendor of His majesty? Is He the One who hears your cries in the dead of night, when the grief, the pain, the loneliness, the stress, the weariness, and the weight of this broken world seem too much to bear? Do you long to see Him as your most intimate Friend, the One who knows you more deeply than anyone ever will and loves you more completely, more fully, than anyone ever could? Do you see Him as your portion forever (Psalm 73:26)? Whether we feel or acknowledge this at any given moment, the blessed truth is that He is! Take a moment to reflect.

On Mount Sinai and in the Tent of Meeting, Moses knew the presence of the Lord. Knowing God, he longed to know Him more. He sought His glory—His face. God’s presence defined Israel and shaped Moses’s life and longing.

Moses did not see the face of God, but we are the children of the New Covenant and have the unspeakable opportunity of beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Moses stood on a rock, and God hid him in the cleft of the rock, but we stand on the Rock—Christ and His finished work—and our lives are hidden in the cleft of Christ (Colossians 3:3). Yet, even now, “we see in a mirror dimly,” but the Day is coming when we will see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12) — “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:3-5)

Let us long to see His face on that Day.

About the Author

Photograph of Reynolds Walker

Reynolds Walker

Resident for Young Adults

Reynolds serves as the Resident for Young Adults at Park Cities Presbyterian Church. He attended the Kanakuk Institute after graduating from Baylor University. Reynolds’s passions include discipleship, the outdoors, and intellectual formation.