Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. (Exodus 33:7)
After hearing that God’s Presence was being remove from the people, the children of Israel began to mourn. To underscore the mood, they removed all ornamentation so as not to incite God’s anger in any way. In reality, that God removed His Presence was a merciful act because, as He said, “I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you” (Exodus 33:5). In other words, His holiness doesn’t allow for coexistence with corruption and uncleanliness. It is also likely that this action was intended to provoke remorse and repentance among the people; when they realized that they were lost without Him, perhaps they would turn their hearts toward Him.
Interestingly, Moses followed the Almighty’s example and removed himself from the camp as well, pitching his tent “far from the camp.” This tent became known as the Tent of Meeting, not to be confused with the Tabernacle — that had not been built yet. This is where Moses received people and settled their disputes during this time when God’s Presence was removed from among the people. Apparently, not only was God annoyed with them to the point of putting distance between Him and them but their leader was as well. In time, it became apparent that God’s Presence was elsewhere and if one wanted to get answers from Him on a matter, you were compelled to go on a trek and find Him.
There are a couple of important things to consider here: first of all, it isn’t wrong to put distance between yourself and others when others are engaging in abysmal behavior. It is appropriate to protect the boundaries you have established in your life and, if that means backing off of a particular relationship, so be it. In fact, that response might be the very thing that causes someone to reevaluate their life’s choices.
Secondly, there are times when we must be diligent to seek God to get the answers we need. It would be quite convenient to have Him hand us a note at the end of a lightning bolt with all the answers we need but that’s not likely to happen. There are times when He wants to see who is serious about seeking His face. As the days grow darker, we will need to increase our time of prayer and seek Him as never before, and as we do, draw nearer to Him because, as I mentioned in the previous devotion, we can’t do this without Him.
Blessings and Shalom,