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Face to Face (Exodus 33)

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.

-Exodus 33:11

Moses experienced something with God that should make us tremble in awe and bring tears to our eyes just to think about it. He spoke to God face to face. He communicated with God as a man speaks to his friend.

As staggering as Moses’ calling and ministry were, I do not believe that God the Holy Spirit included this in the scriptures so that it would just end with Moses and never be attainable. In fact, I believe this is the relationship into which God longs to bring each and every one of us. While no man has ever seen His form, still we can communicate with God in such a way on this side of eternity that we are assured that our voice is speaking right into His attentive ear, and we are actively seen and heard by Him. We cannot plan or manufacture those moments. But we can cultivate a relationship with Him that is increasingly intimate in this way, like a man speaking with his friend.

Friendship is founded upon a bond of mutual affection and trust. Our affection is, or at least should be, derived from the content of the other person’s character. Our trust is built upon the experience of trustworthy behavior and an understanding of the other person’s heart. We do not look at our friends and see perfect people, but we do see well-meaning people who desire what is good. We forgive their failures and misguided moments, because we see a heart that seeks good.

Recently, I heard friendship described as a bond that begins when someone says, “So do I.” We find a commonality; we discover mutual aspirations, enjoyments, perspectives, and values.

I believe all of these things are the same with God. If the Lord will meet us “face to face” and show up in our time of prayer to such a degree that we know we have His attention, it will be because He sees a shared aspiration, a common value, a perspective that is coherent with His Word.

To use Moses as an example, he had a heart to set an entire generation free. His whole life was wrapped up in obeying a call to lead an entire nation of people back into relationship with the living God. Moses was even given the grace to intercede like Christ on behalf of Israel. When the righteous indignation of God would have burned them up after they worshiped a golden calf, Moses pleaded with God, and the Lord relented.

It is no wonder the Father spoke to Moses face to face. It is as if He says, “You have an interest in leading a generation out of captivity to worship Me? So do I.” On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus also spoke face to face with Moses. It is as if He said, “You have a heart to intercede for unworthy sinners for salvation? So do I.” In reality, Moses never produced that kind of love. I believe it was a heart of intercession given to him by the pre-incarnate Christ, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Nevertheless, God looks and says, “You’re sharing my heart, my desires,” and He gives His attention in a special way.

Today, I believe God is stirring a longing among His people for real relationship with Jesus, real intimacy with the Father, real communion with and fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.

But how do we enter this “face to face” conversation, as Moses experienced? Begin to be concerned about the salvation of many. Beg for the spiritual well-being of others. God is calling us to plead for souls again, for those we know are lost. For the saved to grow more like Christ. We do not have to put on airs; we can simply talk to God about them and pour out our hearts. Tell God your concern and longing for them to know Him. Remind God that there is nothing too great for Him! In the end, He does not need the reminder; you do. And He honors it when we uphold His character and promises. Do not be surprised if, while pouring out yourself for others in prayer, you become suddenly aware that your voice is going right up to God’s ear in an awe-striking, holy way.

-Pastor Alex

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