By Michael E. Brooks
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “To your descendants I will give it.” And I will send my Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people'” (Exodus 33:1-3 NKJV).
Whenever I prepare to return to South Asia I have to deal again with the issue of packing.
Why must I always have to take so much stuff? Why must every trip involve so many details, so much planning and advance work? Can’t I just buy tickets, jump on the plane, and go?
After Moses and the Children of Israel had spent about three months or so on Mount Sinai, the people sinned by having Aaron make them an idol. In his anger, God commanded, “Leave, get away from my holy mountain – go now!”
As the text continues through succeeding chapters, Moses plead with God and secured forgiveness for the people, including God’s promise to go with them and bring them safely to their destination.
The remainder of Exodus and all of Leviticus are filled with details of the building of the Tabernacle and the giving of the Law. In Numbers 10:11 we finally see God’s command to Moses to depart Sinai.
Their departure did not take place until at least 10 or 11 months after God had first told them to leave. Why the delay? What took so long?
Part of the answer might lie in the fact that when they finally left, God went with them. For that to be possible preparation had to take place. God’s House (the Tabernacle) must be built.
Rules for worshiping him must be delivered. Laws providing for holiness and purity among the people had to be enacted.
Whether it is travel, work, worship or any other human activity, the degree of preparation required is directly related to the purpose of the activity and to the seriousness with which we regard it. It does not require much packing to go to the beach for a week.
But to travel for mission work involving visits to different places, teaching, preaching, etc. demands much more advance effort. The more we are going to do, and the more important such activities are, the more preparation we engage in.
The Israelites could have departed Sinai in a matter of hours or days. After all, they left Egypt in the middle of the night, after hundreds of years of occupation of their territory. But to leave with God in their midst was an entirely different thing.
When we travel, or engage in recreation, or just plan an evening’s enjoyment, do we make plans for God’s presence? If we were to begin to do so would it make a difference in how we prepared? Would it involve extra pains in packing? Paul taught, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).
In other words, take your Savior with you.
By Michael E. Brooks