Moses – God’s Presence, Our Present

DECEMBER 2, 2023

“…call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:23b, niv) The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

Presence—what a present! The gift of presence intentionally hears, engages, and attends to another as appropriate and necessary. It’s really a present, a gift—undeserved, unmerited, unearned.

Among the deepest quests of the human psyche is a longing for divine presence. When God seems absent, we are compelled to invent an object to worship, trust, follow, and serve. This attempt to offset the absence of God with our own, creative substitutes for His presence is found in the events in the life of Moses.

The man of God on a mission for God had led the murmuring multitudes out of Egypt, based on the promise of God’s personal presence (Exodus 3:12). God’s people were doing rather well until Moses went up a mountain to meet with God. During Moses’s extended absence, the people became corrupt and built a tangible object of worship (Exodus 32).

God decisively judged idolaters with a plague, withdrew His presence in mercy, and was willing to send His angel to take His rebellious people into the Promised Land (32:35–33:5). The people publicly mourned, and Moses pitched a portable tent and spoke to God face to face, “as one speaks to a friend” (33:11). Moses made a formidable case for someone to accompany him in leading God’s people. Being a compassionate and gracious God,

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. … What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (33:14–16).

What makes the presence of God certain for the believer, without any threat of divine withdrawal or the possibility of confusion? 

CHRISTMAS! Christmas is God’s gift of His own presence to humanity. 

Humanity will never again have to wonder about the concept or certainty of God’s presence. In Jesus, God’s presence is not mere wish fulfillment; in Jesus, God fulfills our wishes for God’s presence.

Immanuel reads, “With us, God!” Wow! With us, God? Yes, With us, God. God’s presence with people is centered, concentrated, and concretized in Jesus. God’s Christmas gift of His very presence not only lies in His authority—the commanding presence of God—but also in His accompaniment—the convincing presence of God. When you receive the Lord Jesus as God’s gift of salvation, you also receive the gift of His presence—undeserved, unmerited, unearned. You become His, with whom He is! With you, God.


Dr. Ramesh Richard
Professor of Global Theological Engagement and Pastoral Ministries