Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
What will make you distinct among all the people of the world?
What is the difference between the praying Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Pagan, and the praying Christian? Each prays.
What is the difference between the Muslim loving Muslim, Buddhist loving Buddhist, Hindu loving Hindu, Jew loving Jew, Pagan loving Pagan, and the Christian loving Christian? Each loves.
What is the difference between the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, and Pagan who love their scripture and read it reverently, and the Christian who loves his scripture and reads it reverently? Each loves and reads their writings reverently.
Each major world religion has their prayers, their writings, and their set of moral standards and codes. Many people believe there is little difference between all the religions. All promote morality. All believe in a higher power. All seem to want similar things.
Because of this kind of mentality, there are two questions I believe need to be answered:
1) So what’s the difference between a Christian, and everyone else?
2) What will make me distinct among the nations and religions and people of this world?
In answer to question one, the difference is how we define these words. I won’t get into defining these. It’s enough to say that even if we can put an idea into words, like ‘god,’ how god is defined by each person, how god looks and acts, is completely different.
I want to focus on question two.
Moses knew what the key difference would be between him and his people versus the nations, religions and people of this world: God going with them.
Look at that last part in Exodus 33:15-16.
And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
The NIV translates verse sixteen this way: “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?”
The NASB translates it: “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
If you notice, what’s being said by Moses in verse sixteen is this: What will be the difference between me and your people from everyone else?
What will be the difference between me from the people around me? Is it how much I pray? How often I pray? How much or how often I read the Bible? How much I talk about God? How much I do good things? Will these make me distinct? No. That’s not what Moses said. In fact, even other people are doing these things. Reading, praying, and doing good. Even an evil man knows how to give good gifts to his children. But, Moses didn’t say to God that these would make them distinct and distinguished. Moses said that it will be God going with them that will make the difference.
What will make you distinct is not you at all. You won’t be distinct by anything you are or you do. God moving upon you, God working through you, God’s power showing up in you, and God’s power proceeding from you is what will make you distinct. It’s God’s hand and favor upon you that will make you distinct. It’s God being with you, God walking with you, God showing up wherever you go that will make the difference.
Let me quickly say that this does not mean we neglect reading or praying, nor that we should neglect to do good. For Jesus Himself taught us to pray. Jesus Himself read and knew scripture. Jesus spoke the Word against Satan. Jesus did good and healed. Paul told us to not weary in doing good. To pray. To read the scripture. So we ought not to neglect the two staples of Christianity: the food of the soul, God’s word, and the breath of the soul, prayer. We ought not to neglect the outworking of Christianity either: good works. However, wanting to be distinct will make us do it for different reasons and with a different awareness.
We won’t pray to pray. We won’t read to read. We won’t do good works to do good works. We will pray to know God, experience God, and ask God to go with us. We will read to know and experience God, and to know how to please our Lord. We will do good works out of obedience because of our love for God, because of what we have learned through His word, because of what we have been burdened about in the prayer closet, and because of a desire that God will glorify Himself by showing up.
The only difference between you and the smartest, most devout Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, and even groups claiming to preach the gospel is not you, but God being, going, and dwelling with you. Thus, we ought to work hard to be knowledgeable. We ought to work hard to know and understand. We ought to gain wisdom, knowledge, understanding. But, in all our getting, obtaining, and understanding, we will know this one thing: All my getting is to be used as fuel in the fire that burns within me to know and experience God.
May we work hard to use all of our minds to love Him and use all of our hearts to love Him. In all our loving, may God be pleased to pour out His favor upon us, and to go with us so that we will be distinct and distinguished among the nations.