“…and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud.” Exodus 24:16
How much of God do we long for? And do we wait patiently for Him? Sometimes, we expect God to speak right away when we approach Him in prayer. We want fast answers to our problems, fast guidance. However, God doesn’t always match our expectation of speed with His reality. There are times when His answers take an incredibly long time coming (at least a really, long time for us!).
In Exodus 24, Moses is invited up Mt. Sinai with seventy of the elders of Israel. They have a moment where they drink and eat in the presence of the Lord (Ex.24:9-11), but only Moses is invited further up the mountain to meet with God. He sets out higher with his ever-faithful assistant, Joshua.
We’d think that once Moses reached the “glory” area of heavy cloud cover, he would hear God speak to him right away. After all, the Bible does say that “when Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai” (Ex. 24:1-16a). But no. There were six days of heavy cloud covering, and it was only on the seventh day that God spoke.
There are times when we seek God, and we don’t hear Him speak. In these moments, we have a chance to linger in His presence and wait. We have a choice to be impatient because of God’s silence, or we can simply choose the route of delighting in His presence despite His silence.
There is a temptation to think that waiting for God to speak or to move is wasting time because we can do more productive things. It is not. Gazing at the Lord’s face teaches our hearts that the world and our worries can wait. It teaches us worship. It teaches us to re-calibrate the importance of God versus our own agendas and ego. We should allow God to speak when He wants to speak. We can also remember that even when we are not seeing what God is doing, He is moving on our behalf because it is HIS DELIGHT to be involved in the lives of His children.
This kind of lingering in the Presence of God is seen not only in Moses, but also in Joshua—no doubt a practice that he had seen in Moses’ dealings with Yahweh. In Exodus 33:11, we read this: “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.”
Joshua knew that there was something special about the presence of God. He wanted it. He wanted God—even whatever “residue” of Him that could be caught in the Tent of Meeting! Joshua saw how real Yahweh was, and he was hungry for Him.
Moses had a legacy to leave with Joshua, and upmost in that legacy was the importance of Presence. The profound embrace of God’s presence is seen in Moses’ words (Exodus 33:15-16) to the LORD: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that Your people and I have found favor in Your sight, unless You go with us? How else will we be distinguished from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
God’ Presence mattered. Moses knew this. Joshua understood this. Do we embrace it? Even in God’s silences? Even when we don’t hear God?
Many years after Moses and Joshua, Israel would have a Psalmist king whose one, greatest desire was to gaze at the beauty of the Lord. May this also be our heart’s desire when we linger in the presence of the King of all kings:
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.