Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp.
“Seek the LORD where He may be found,” Isaiah calls to us, and God’s tent of meeting has always required a search of some sort. It draws us away from the hub of human innovation and worldly industry to places like a manger in the hill region stewarded by poor shepherds, and a cross on a ridge full of shadows, and an empty tomb during the twilight hours when most people are fast asleep. For me, this Exodus 33 vision of Moses disappearing with his shepherd staff over a hill to seek the Lord, and the repetition of phrases like ‘outside the camp’ and ‘far off,’ paint the principle that the path to divine communion is not a well-worn one. It’s more like a country backroad than a city highway. More like an overgrown trail through the pasturelands, full of rocks and weeds and briers, leading away from the booming, bustling industry of earth into the simple, silent wonder of heaven.
This is the paradox of divine incarnation, isn’t it?! That God can be standing at the very center of the world, yet we find Him in the periphery of it. That He can write Himself into the heart of the story, yet we meet Him in the margins. That His adopted family of kings and queens are a band of shepherds and beggars and lepers and outcasts and tax collectors and fishermen and plain, ordinary people like you and me. Exodus 33 is just another picture of the life of faith, another biblical symbol for divine communion. He’s always been Immanuel—God with us—from Eden on down to the present day. He’s near, yet far away. He’s low, yet high. He’s on earth, yet in heaven. And we who draw near to Him by faith day after day find that to be true of us as well.
Friend, let’s travel with Moses up that old byway today; away from our phones and devices and worldly distractions, as far away from the din of earth as we can get, and seek the Lord where He’s always willing to be found.