recently participated in a Wednesday night prayer meeting at our church where the visitation of the Holy Spirit was so pronounced that it was difficult to dismiss the people to go home. None of us wanted to leave the obvious presence of God that filled the room that special evening. A reflection of God’s Shekinah glory permeated the place, and we knew it. I have a tiny sense of what Isaiah described in Isaiah 6 when the glory of God surrounded him. It is unspeakable.
During the past few months I have had this insatiable hunger for God. Not just for the acts of God, or the ways of God, but for God Himself. Moses is the poster child for this type of hunger, as is reflected so graphically in Exodus 33. So much so, that Moses’ deep hunger and craving for God’s face could no longer be denied.
God had just told Moses that because of the stiff-necked, stubborn people arrayed on the desert floor, that He, God, would not lead them into the Promised Land; but would instead send an angel to lead them. God reaffirmed to Moses that all the benefits and blessings of the Promised Land would still be theirs, with the exception that He wasn’t going with them.
For many of us, this wouldn’t have been such a bad deal. We might not have had the presence of God, but to continue to experience His blessings, notwithstanding, is not the worst thing that could happen.
But for Moses, it was disastrous to even consider such a thing. To move forward without God’s presence was out of the question, and thus he pleaded his case before God in verse 15: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” In other words Moses was saying, “God, I’m not going anywhere without You.”
Somehow God’s statement had triggered something in Moses that had undoubtedly been building in his heart for some time. He was grateful for all the many acts and blessings of the Lord. In verse 13 he was grateful for being exposed to the mighty ways of God. But deep in Moses’ spirit was a stirring—a hunger—for something more. He was no longer content with just God’s acts and ways; Moses pressed for something more. This meek and humble man had developed a craving to peek into the “cloud” and see God’s glory—His face.
There is a quality of God that most Christians will probably never experience: God gives the deeper revelation of Himself to those who are hungry for Him.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul said it this way: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:17, ESV).* That level of revelation is given to the hungry.
If you’re interested only in God’s blessings, then that’s what you’ll settle for. If you want only to know the ways of God, you’ll be content with that. But you’ll never have all He wants to give. You will stay at a level with God that seems comfortable, but not complete. Moses told God, “I want all of You.” And even though God permitted Moses to see only His back, that view alone took Moses’ breath away. Had Moses seen the face of God, he would have been fully consumed by His glory. I don’t know about you, but I want that. I want that level of intimacy with God—and more!
You and I have to decide how much of a revelation of God we want; and the depth of our hunger for Him determines that. For Moses it was deep. The more God gave of Himself to Moses, the more Moses wanted. The same goes for us. Our hunger is fulfilled for a while, then there is a quest—a hunger for more. We come after God refusing to be denied.
Are you hungry enough? Do you want Him?
*Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Fredrick A. Russell is senior pastor of the Miracle Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.