Conversations With God Close Contact
Sermon Summary
This message is the second in a series on conversations with God. It considers the close contact Moses had with God at the time of the giving of the Ten Commandments. A brief look at the background to the conversation Moses had with God is undertaken and then chapter 33 of Exodus is examined verse by verse. Three main points are developed: Sin prevents close contact with God! God desires close contact with you as a friend! Do you desire to have close contact with God?
The message ends by looking at the difference it makes in a person’s life when they have close contact with God in prayer.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. In your relationship with God, would you say your conversations are more like close friends or more like a discussion with an authority figure who is somewhat distant and unapproachable?

2. While God should always be honored and respected, He does desire a close contact friendship with you. What are some of things that prevent this kind of relationship from forming? (Hints: Misplaced priorities/worries of the world/sin)
James 4:13  Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."
James 4:14  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:15  Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
Mat 6:31  So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
Mat 6:32  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Mat 6:33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Psa 32:5  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

3. One of life’s most important questions is whether or not you desire a close contact relationship with God! What are some ways we can increase that desire to seek God?
Psa 9:9  The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psa 9:10  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Psa 27:4  One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
Psa 27:5  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

4. Discuss the difference spending time with God in prayer has made in your life.
Acts 4:13  When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Eph 2:17  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.


Conversations With God Close Contact

Full Sermon Notes

"I will rise and stand redeemed
Heaven open over me  
To your name eternally
Endless glory I will bring"

What a lyric? Because of what Christ Jesus did for us on the Cross we can rise from the pits of despair and we stand cleansed and forgiven! Because of this heaven can open over us us! Because of this we desire to bring glory to the Name of Jesus for as long as we live and into eternity! And that "heaven open over us thing," we're going to talk about how an amazing aspect of heaven is actually available to us right now, in our lives today! Let's have a conversation with God and ask Him to teach us these glorious truths!

Father God, You are so awesome! The fact we can even have a conversation with You is astounding, and awe-inspiring! While You are high and lifted up, exalted above all others, great and mighty, powerful beyond comprehension and so pure and Holy, You still desire to have close contact with us! It is also beyond me to understand why we as humans do not seem to have the same desire for closeness with our Creator God! Maybe it's that we've become so caught up with the pleasures of this world we can't understand the deeply gratifying pleasures that come from a personal relationship with You! Please help us to yearn for time with You! Time for our heart and soul to have close, face to face, and very personal interaction with You! Please let Your Holy Spirit lead us and teach us today through Your precious and most Holy Word! Hide me behind Your Cross and I'll be quick to give You all the Glory! In Jesus Name I pray and believe!!

Ok, how many of you have ever heard of a man called Moses. Let me ask you a quick question…don't say it out loud, but hold up the number of fingers that answer the following question…"How many animals, at a time, did Moses take on the ark, 2 or 3?" Ok, the answer is zero. That was Noah!

When you think of Moses, what stands out in your mind? What is he known for? Some of you might say, "The 10 plagues!" Some would say, "The 10 Commandments!" Some would say, "Crossing the Red Sea!" Some might say, "The burning bush!" But maybe, the most important thing Moses ought to be known for was His close contact with God!

We're going to look at Exodus 33. In this passage we get a glimpse into the close relationship Moses had with God! Moses knew what it was to have a conversation with God, and the conversation we'll see today was not his first conversation with God! God had talked with him numerous times before, and Moses was quite candid with God, and visa versa. God had used Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. And then God gave Moses The Ten Commandments. However, while Moses was on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments something else was happening down in the valley. Moses had been gone 40 days and 40 nights and while he was gone the people turned away from God to idols. The following is a sad commentary on the children of Israel, who God had worked literal miracles to free them from their bondage to the Egyptians.

And the story is so bizarre it's hard to believe the people could be so foolish.

Exodus 32:19-24.
When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

Come on Aaron! Are you kidding? Did he really think Moses would buy that line? Such a childish response. Kind of like when I was a kid and we were filling jumbo balloons with water and setting them on the two lane road in front the house to watch cars and dump trucks run over them. Then an Army Corp of Engineers pickup drove by and one of our guys decided to throw a water balloon at him. It hit an open window. He pulled off the road and we all ran. He drove away. A few minutes later we were back at it, when he drove up quickly and jumped out. He said: "hold it right there boys. You guys threw a water balloon at my truck and got the inside wet." One of my little 8 year old friends said, "That wasn't us mister, that was some other kids." To which the man replied: "Nope, I know it was you kids, because, see that dog right there? That dog was with the kids that threw the balloon." My friend quickly replied, "No sir, see a friend of mine and I share that dog and it's his week to have that dog!" The guy had to turn and look away because he started to laugh! That statement was so absurd, he knew it wasn't true, so he told us not to throw balloons at cars anymore and drove away!

Aaron's statement was equally unbelievable, but the difference was he was an adult and he was dealing with a much more serious situation. We're talking about a people turning away from the God who had done so much for them and their excuse was Moses was gone for 40 days and nights. There were tragic consequences. There was a judgement! I don't pretend to understand all the things that happened and why, but I know this. The people had made a covenant with God back in Exodus 24:7 and they broke it in a most serious way. Here's what they had promised…

Exodus 24:7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”

But they didn't! And while Moses was so angry he broke the tablets of stone, he was at the same time heart broken and offered to speak with God on behalf of the people.

Exodus 32:30-35
The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin —but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
The LORD replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.
Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you.
However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”
And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

This background is so important to our text today. God let Moses know he, Moses, could not pay for another man's sin. People are responsible for their own sin. And why does God hate sin so much? Because sin kills. Sin separates us from a Holy God, who does loves us. And sin always has consequences.

Sin destroys lives, marriages, families, relationships, communities and even nations. Sin eventually brings the judgement of God. Now, I know the Old Testament has some very difficult to understand things, and when I get to heaven, I'll probably ask God if He wouldn't mind helping me understand some of the whys and wherefores of History.

Here's something to think about: God was working in a fallen world, with a fallen people, a people who after entering into covenant with God, chose to disregard His directions, His instructions, His Divine principles and laws. What was He to do to stem the terrible depths of depravity and wickedness that had infected His chosen people? Destroy the whole of Israel? Or bring judgement in a limited way in order to allow a remnant to survive and eventually bring the hope of redemption to the world? Well let's see what happens.

Exodus 33:1-6
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”
When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

Sin prevents close contact with God!

God is a Holy God! He is completely righteous and just! While He loves the sinner, He cannot tolerate the sin because it goes against everything He is! And here's the issue...
If God allows us to come into His presence with the stench and stain of sin on us His holiness automatically reacts to destroy that sin and in the process the sinner is destroyed, and that's not what God wants! That is why God's instructions to humankind is that our sins must be covered, atoned for, washed away, paid for, before we can enter into His presence! The whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed this out. A great example of this concept is found in Isaiah 6:1-7.

Isaiah 6:1-7
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy , holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for. ”

And what about us? How are our sins atoned for?

Hebrews 7:24-27
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him,  
because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

God must love us a whole bunch! We are covered in sin by our own choices, but God wanted to have a relationship with us. He wanted to be able to talk with us. He wanted to be close to us without His holiness destroying us, so He made a way for us to be cleansed, forgiven, restored, but it took the blood of His One and Only Son! Why would He do this?

God desires close contact with you as a friend!

Exodus 33:7-11
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. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

And I love the fact Moses brought his young aid, Joshua, with him. I don't know if Moses could have known, but Joshua would be the one who God would use to lead the people to the promise land! So important that we mentor and train the leaders of tomorrow!! That cloud represented the presence of God! The Spirit of God! The fellowship of God! Others would go out to the tent, but when Moses went out there, God came down and the people stood and watched in awe! God spoke with Moses face to face. This doesn't mean literally face to face, as we will see in a moment, but God had the kind of friendship with Moses that is between close friends. God wanted that friendship with the people of Israel, but they were stiff-necked and had rebelled so many times. But God desired to be close to them. Listen to Isaiah 65:1-3a...

Isaiah 65:1-3a
“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations — a people who continually provoke me to my very face...

And then we hear Jesus share the same sentiment in Matthew 23:37

Matthew 23:37-38
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.

God doesn't want you to live a desolate life! He doesn't want you to live alone and separated from His love, His forgiveness, His help, His strength, His encouragement, His wisdom, His leadership! God actually grieves when the people He created chose to walk away from the conversation He so desires!

And I hope and pray none of us will grieve The Holy Spirit of God in our lives. And what would do that? Listen...

Ephesians 4:29-5:2
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

So sin separates you from having close contact with God, but Jesus died to cleanse you of your sin so you can have a relationship with God! And God deeply desires to have the close contact of friendship with you! So here's the question of the day, arguably the most important question in life?

Do you desire to have close contact with God?

Moses wanted God's presence in his life more than anything else! It was his burning desire! Listen...

Exodus 33:12-13
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.

A person who truly desires the presence of God in their life wants to know God and be taught by God, and to continue to find favor with God!

Exodus 33:13b-15
Remember that this nation is your people.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.

A person who truly desires close contact with God doesn't want to live a single day or go to a single place without knowing God will go with them!

Exodus 33:16
How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

A person who cries out for the presence of God knows God's presence is the only thing that distinguishes them from the rest of the world! It's God's presence that makes the difference, gives the encouragement, shows the way, brings the strength, and heals the broken hearted!

Exodus 33:17
And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

You know my name? How cool is that? God told Moses, "I'm pleased with you and I know you by name!" Do you long for that kind of relationship with God?

Exodus 33:18-23
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD,
in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

And what did this close contact with God do for Moses?

Exodus 34:29-32
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.

Start having close contact conversations with God and people will notice! They'll see it in your countenance, your attitude, your actions, your love, your priorities, your goals, your desires, your willingness to serve, and your eagerness to share Jesus with others who don't yet know Him! Let's pray!