And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
That is always the distinction—God with us. What truly separates us from the rest is our nearness to God and His presence among us. Absent of that, we are just like everybody else. He is what makes such a difference in our lives, and it is He who gives meaning to them. Indeed, we can’t get where we’re supposed to go without Him. Because when He calls us out to be separate from the rest, it is so that we can freely follow Him and His ways and so we can show Him to others as He was revealed to us.
God’s presence among Israel was evidence of His grace upon them. And indeed, we as Christians have been sealed by the Spirit of God to distinguish us as recipients of God’s grace. Because we are still just humans, still sinners, still flesh, but His presence with us is what makes us so different. That’s what makes it possible for us to even be different since we are still just humans in the flesh with a sin nature. It is nothing about us that makes us distinct, but the addition of God into our brokenness.
And rest is the promise that comes along with God’s presence. And didn’t Jesus say the same thing? “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.” He is the only cure for that restlessness that permeates us while we reside in a sinful world full of the chaos of sin and unrighteousness. The path to peace goes straight through Him. The way to be free from burdens and all those things that are too much for us to carry is to reside in the presence of the One who takes them from us.
Moses knew God well enough at this point to know he didn’t want to go anywhere without Him. He knew God’s presence was needed for the duration. It is God who first draws us into His presence with an invitation. Isn’t that what happened to Moses? He heard someone call his name, and he turned aside to see. And as he went and got to know more and more about I AM, he was transformed by being in God’s presence. It is something that we must experience individually. We must respond and turn aside to see. And if we’re willing to reside in God’s presence, He is willing to reside in ours, and we, likewise, will be transformed. We’ll go out separate from the rest and nearer and nearer to Him.