Face to Face
Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp...The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. (Exodus 33:7, 11)
Moses is considered the greatest prophet and leader in the history of Israel. Not only did God use Moses to confront Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and free Israel from slavery there, He also gave His Law to His people through His faithful servant.
What was the secret of Moses' leadership? How did Moses call down plagues on Egypt? How did he part the waters of the Red Sea? How did he split open rocks and bring water out of them in the desert?
Moses never took a leadership course at Harvard Business School. He never read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. He was not bitten by a radioactive spiker, giving him superpowers. The secret to Moses' great works for God was simple:
Moses regularly met with God in the tent of meeting, and "The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend."
The key to Moses' power to do mighty works for God was his intimacy with God.
God is not a program of leadership that results in our building a life of success. God is not a vending machine where we put in prayer and out pops a miracle. God is not a mysterious, impersonal force that holds all things together and allows us to levitate a light saber or hit the tiny opening at a gazillion miles an hour to blow up the Death Star.
God has revealed Himself as a husband to His people. He has revealed Himself as a father to His children. God is a person to love, not a force to master. And like a loving husband or father, God desires to meet with us and talk with us face to face.
Sometimes it feels like God is a million miles away, tending to something important in the universe and leaving us alone in our messy lives. King David wrote about how insignificant we feel in the vastness of the universe in Psalm 8:3-4:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
The Creator and Sustainer of the universe met Moses at a tent outside the camp and spoke with him face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
Yes, but Moses was special, right? Moses was IN. Moses was righteous. Moses was a spiritual giant and I'm just me, right?
Moses was flawed, just like you and me. Moses got angry at God for making him the leader of a prideful and stubborn (stiff-necked) people. Moses got angry at the people for constantly wanting to go back to Egypt. No, the thing that made Moses a great leader and a spiritual giant was not his perfection or his great abilities. It was the tent of meeting.
The people viewed God like they viewed the idols of Egypt. One god is as good as another. Moses is taking too long up on the mountain? Well, Aaron, make us a golden calf (representing one of the gods of Egypt) to worship. The gods are capricious and detached. They show up and do something miraculous, and then leave us to get hungry and thirsty.
Moses knew better. He met with God face to face. He spoke with God as one speaks with a friend. And in the intimacy of that relationship, Moses was transformed. Moses gained wisdom. Moses got the power he needed to do the assignment God gave him. Moses understood the love and mercy and compassion of God because he shared the heart of God in the tent of meeting.
Jesus is our tent of meeting. Jesus is the Person who meets with us at the kitchen table or in the prayer room where we go to read God's Word, speak our heart to Him in prayer and hear His voice. God shows up and speaks to us in Church on Sundays. But if we will set up a tent of meeting (figuratively, or literally if you want to pitch one in the back yard and make it your prayer room), Jesus will speak with us face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
And the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we will be like Him. The more we will share His heart. The more we will be infused with His love. The more we will receive God-given assignments of loving and serving and sacrifice and witness that reveal the glory of the Living God to others. And the more we will receive the power we need to accomplish those assignments.
How well used is your tent of meeting? How well read is your Bible? How familiar are you with the heart of Jesus from speaking often to Him face to face? How much is your life marked by intimacy with Him?
Here's the good news. It's never too late to begin to meet Jesus in the tent of meeting. Jesus waits faithfully and patiently for us. He'll be there when you seek Him. Even if your tent of meeting has been used infrequently for years, if you begin to make time and seek to meet Jesus daily, intimacy will grow. And you will discover (or rediscover) how much He loves you.