(Wednesday July 20, 2016 Issue)
Must God’s presence be with us always, everywhere we go, and twenty-four hours a day for that matter? If you were to ask Moses this question, he would have recommended never to venture, outside your home even, without the certainty that God is with you. God must be with us at all times and in all places. Moses would have admonished you to seek God’s presence daily. Why would Moses talk like that, you might wonder? Well, of all the Old Testament prophets, Moses was aware that if God had not been with them when he and the Children of Israel left Egypt with The Promised Land as their destination, they would never have crossed even their first hurdle - the Red Sea.
It would have been utter disaster for the Children of Israel to have been wandering in the wilderness without a compass for good forty years; open to the risk of encountering hostile tribes, crossing enemy territory ruled by pagan kings, and with hungry, wild animals lurking in the dark. From the very first day of their journey - barely hours after they had left Egypt - Pharaoh had given chase. All of a sudden, he wanted to back down on his decision because of the stark and grim economic realities that would have ensued.
But for the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night where God himself dwelt, the lives of the Children of Israel would have been in constant jeopardy. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of cloud by night left its place in front of the people.” (Exodus 13:21-22) Those who dared come against the Children of Israel faced the consequences.
It was not evident for most of the Israelites that God had them covered. Throughout, and in the face of every obstacle they panicked. “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11-12) Moses interceded and God asked the Israelites to go ahead, that he was going to fight for them. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14) Wasn’t it initially God’s idea to liberate them from the hands of Pharaoh? Why then should He abandon them in the thick of their trials?
The fact of the matter is that God’s presence is everywhere. His eyes are even on the sparrow - the smallest of all birds. Our Lord Jesus revealed that not one sparrow falls to the ground and dies unbeknown to God. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one will fall to the ground apart from the will of your father.” (Matthew 10:29)
Omnipresence is one of God’s characteristics. David asked this question himself: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Ps 139: 7-8) His spirit now indwells us for more effective and operational benefit. The Holy Spirit lives in us. “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them.” (Ezekiel 11:19)
The Children of Israel had journeyed through the desert and were at the threshold of the Promised Land; but God did not let them enter it right away. He asked Moses to send in twelve spies on a reconnaissance mission just to have a foretaste of things to come. On their return trip, ten of them brought back a report that if they ever tried to take over the land the giants that lived there would crush them to death. God was the least pleased with them for such a report. How could they have doubted his ability to protect them from all harm and danger? “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” (Exodus 14:11) “Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.” (Exodus 14:43) God categorically refused to continue the journey with them. Moses however pleaded, because they were not ready to go it on their own. God relented and confirmed: “...my angel will go with you.” (Exodus 32:34)
Have you been running your life on a neutral gear? You do not think you have a need for God and that you can do it all on your own? Is it that you feel you are mature enough to go it alone? Well think again. Pilots depend on their instruments to fly a plane safely from take-off through turbulence to landing. How about you and me? Sometimes we feel that we know it all, have seen it all, can do it all. No way! God is an All-Knowing (Omniscient), All-Powerful (Omnipotent) and Ever-Present (Omnipresent) God; our credentials pale before Him. We need him throughout our existence! He says: “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 14:6)
It will be prudent never to go anywhere without the presence of the Holy Spirit of God for our comfort. He is a more formidable force.