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We now stand upon the threshold of a New Year. Untried and untarnished it stretches out before us. It is with that in mind that I call your attention to the above scripture. The background of the full context of these verses present to us a very interesting story. It involves a conversation between God and Moses concerning the children of Israel. Three months following their deliverance from Egypt, Moses had gone up on Mount Sinai where God would give to him the two tables of the law called the Ten Commandments and other instructions for the children of Israel.
Moses had been gone for a lengthy amount of time and the children grew restless. Apparently they needed some visible evidence of God’s presence so they melted down all of their gold and molded it into a golden calf and began to worship it. This was an offense to God who was not going to be represented by a golden calf or any other idol. Having broken their covenant with God, He told Moses that He would destroy this stiffnecked people. The Lord promised to send an angel with them to open up the land for settlement, but the Lord refuses to accompany Israel any further. Moses intercedes for the children in 32:32. Here we see the importance of intercession.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt….and I will send an angel before you.” Moses was not satisfied with that arrangement. For one thing he did not want an angel to lead them and he would settle for nothing less than the Lord’s Presence. He also refused to claim them as his people for Moses said in 33:13, “Consider too that this nation is your people.” O, how powerful is the intercession of a holy man! In verse 14 we see the results of such intercession. The Lord said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Moses said to Him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here.” These words of Moses concerning the need of His presence, should be the clarion call for all of us as we enter into this new year.
The whole world is watching the horizon and wondering just what this new year is going to bring. This forward look is not one of good cheer but rather one of foreboding with all the threats of danger. Jesus spoke of the day with “men’s hearts failing them for fear and looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” His word tells us in Acts 14:22. “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” He makes it clear that the Christian is not exempt from persecution and oftentimes it becomes the child of God’s portion. But Paul reminds us that “neither things present nor things to come” would be able to separate us from the love of God as long as we have God’s presence.
We, like Moses, need His presence filling our hearts and lives leading us into the unknown and uncertain future. With the dawn of this New Year we are facing a road that is both untried and untraveled. As it was with Moses so it will be for us as we cross the threshold of another year. There will be new battles, new temptations, and new testing. With our Lord’s Presence, with the challenge of battle there will be victory, with the challenge of temptation there will be overcoming, with the challenge of testing there will be a development and increase of our faith. As we face the dim and darkness of this new year may we as Christians be mindful that, “the future is as bright as the promises of God.” As we make resolutions for the coming year, let us resolve to have His presence at all costs and everything else will fall into place.
As Fanny Crosby wrote:
“I must have my Saviour with me,
For I dare not walk alone,
I must feel His presence near me,
And His arm around me thrown.
Then my soul shall feel no ill,
Let Him lead me where He will,
I will go without a murmur,
And His footsteps follow still.