You can tell a lot about how someone is feeling just by looking at that person’s face. An expression can reveal a person’s mood—happiness, sadness, anger or annoyance. Though various modern methods of communication are available such as cellphones, e-mail, texting, and video web chat, nothing compares with face-to-face communication.
You are able to read a person’s emotions through facial expression and know how that person feels in the moment. Face-to-face conversation provides an opportunity for intimate connection. There are times when only face-to-face interaction can meet the need for a clear understanding between two people.
There are moments when we need an intimate encounter with God. Every person reaches a place in life that makes him or her cry out to God in desperation. If you have reached that place before, you may have prayed “God, if You are with me, show me You are here in this moment.” Such yearning for connection with God occurs often in the Bible. There are many instances where biblical figures struggled in their relationship with God. So what does it take to encounter the presence of the Holy God? We will begin our inquiry with Moses and the theophany on Mount Sinai. Let’s take a look at Exodus 33:12-23 and 34:28, 29. Scripture says:
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 grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You, and that I may 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.”
Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how will it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we will be distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people who are on the face of the earth?”
The Lord said to Moses, “I will do this thing of which you have spoken, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.”
Then Moses said, “I pray, show me Your glory.”
Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “Indeed, there is a place by Me. You must stand on the rock. While My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you will see My back, but My face may not be seen (Ex. 33:12-23).
Moses was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.
God had just brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. As they made their way through the desert, they came to Mount Sinai. Moses had the daunting task of leading the Israelites into the promised land, but this was a difficult job. Moses was under pressure. If he was going to continue to lead thousands of people through the desert, he wanted to make sure that God was going to be with him. On Mount Sinai, Moses asked God to reveal His glory to him. God agreed to his request but emphasized that no human could see the fullness of His glory and live. Moses witnessed the glory of God and it had an extraordinary effect on him. Those who seek God earnestly desire the same experience. So how do we seek God’s face? How can we become witnesses to His glory? What can we expect to take place when we encounter the living God?
The foundation for drawing closer to God is a holy desire to know God. Passion is born from a love and honor of God and His Word, thanksgiving for what God has done for us, and an awe of God’s greatness and goodness. Passion comes from a choice to seek after God in the good and bad times, when we’re strong and when we’re weak. It was passion that propelled Christ to carry the cross to Calvary. Passion should lead to obedience.
Christ tied love and obedience together when he said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commands.” A passion for God is not just a feeling; it leads to actions of obedience to God’s Word. Moses’ passion for God was expressed when he said, “Teach me Your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with You.” His desire was to know God and learn His will. Obedience to God’s Word develops holiness in the life of the believer. Holiness pleases God and leads to the same response given to Moses: “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”