“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.”—Exodus 33:11 (NIV)
It’s important to have good friends in this world. The truth is, the world is a hard, unforgiving, dark place filled with temptation to sin and pressure to accept sin as good and normal. It’s full of brokenness, pain, and hate. We need true friends to confide in and confess to, to navigate all the darkness, to be 100% real with, to hold one another accountable, to build one another up, and spur one another on.
Yesterday, we learned that Moses took his own tent and made it into a tabernacle where he would meet with God on behalf of the people. In today’s passage, we’re given a little insight into what went on inside the tent with one of the most beautiful sentences in all of the Bible: “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”
I love this! But what does it mean? Well, let’s break it down:
“Face to face”: In this passage, the expression is figurative, meaning free and open fellowship. Moses couldn’t see the actual face of God the Father in His glory (Exodus 33:20). Why? Matthew Poole put it this way: “If God should display all the beams of his glory to him, it would certainly astonish, overwhelm, and destroy him.” But His presence was with Moses and His voice spoke openly with Him.
“As one speaks to a friend”: There was a beautiful level of comfort for Moses in talking with God. The conversations between them were free, vulnerable, and open. John Gill explains it as “without any reserve or show of authority, or causing dread and fear.” There was a deep intimacy and closeness in their relationship.
Friends, this is the kind of relationship you can have with the Lord! It’s available to you by the grace of God through faith in Jesus! There is no veil or separation between us! Because of Jesus, the Spirit of the living God lives in you, and you have unlimited access and closeness with Him. You can speak with Him any time as one speaks to a friend because He is your friend (John 15:13–14).
Continuing on, we’re told Joshua, Moses’ protégé, stayed inside the tent. He likely lived there to assist and direct those who came to seek God in Moses’ absence. The deep and intimate relationship Moses shared with the Lord served as an example to the entire nation, but it was also a special example to Joshua, who got to witness it firsthand. When Moses drew close to God, it also drew Joshua close to God.
This is what true discipleship looks like. You bring someone along by making them part of your life. They get to witness how you live and interact with others in light of your relationship with Jesus, but they also get to witnesses your personal relationship with Jesus. They get to personally see the fruit of it, both publicly and privately.
I pray we all have both Moses mentors and Joshua mentees as part of our close friendship with the Lord!
Pause: What can we learn from Moses’ relationships with the Lord and Joshua in this passage?
Practice: As you draw deeper into relationship with the Lord through prayer and devotion, be intentional to bring someone along with you. Maybe it’s your own child, grandchild, or a nephew or niece. Maybe it’s a coworker, a classmate, or a new person at church. Make sure you have someone to join you on this journey!
Pray: Father, thank You for drawing near to us when we were still far off and for making a way for us to enter into intimate and close relationship with You. Lord, I pray You would use me to draw others into close relationship with You, that my life could serve as an example to someone. Amen.