top of page
  • Paul Reich

God With Us: Five Blessings (Part 2)

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Blessing 2: Because God is with us, we can have success in God-given tasks.

 

Image by John E. Gilman

 

One of my preschool granddaughters is particularly inclined to the arts. With the mental focus of a steel trap, she can get locked onto a project, spending hours drawing, cutting and gluing construction paper, painting, and a host of other creative and tactile activities. She recently celebrated her fifth birthday and among the gifts she received was a craft loop weaving loom. This tried-and-true activity has been around since well before I was born, and I remember making potholders on a similar loom when I was a child. Thankfully, the loops made today are more consistent in size and they come in a wider range of bright, even florescent, colors.

As with other projects, my granddaughter was mesmerized with this activity. She has a great sense for attractive color combinations and patterns, and she readily took to stretching the loops across the loom and weaving the perpendicular loops in an alternating over-under weave. As with all learning curves, she encountered occasional challenges with manipulating the hook through the loops and then crocheting the ends of the loops to tie off the edges once the weave was completed. When she encountered any difficulty, without hesitation she called on Mom or Dad to help. Together they successfully completed some very eye-catching weaves – the first two were given to Mom for use as potholders or hot pads, and subsequent weaves were for doll blankets for her doll house.


Having Mom and Dad a call away ensured success in the task, giving her a safe place to vent frustration, receive clarifying instructions, and gain assistance when needing help. Similarly, as I look through the pages of Scripture, I see this same scenario played out time and again in the lives of godly leaders as they faithfully carried out the vision and tasks given to them by God. They regularly vented their frustrations to God, received clarifying instructions from Him, and procured divine assistance for successfully completing their missions. My granddaughter’s experience with her parents and these biblical scenarios illustrate a second outstanding blessing of God being with us.


My previous post explored how God’s presence gives us assurance in trial. In this post we will consider how God’s presence enables us to succeed in the tasks He assigns to us.


Blessing #2: Success in God-Given Tasks


Because God is with us, we can succeed in fulfilling His purposes. In many biblical accounts where God promised individuals that He would be with them, He did so to assure them of success in what He had called them to do despite their personal feelings of inadequacy. Other biblical accounts credit the already achieved success of individuals to God being with them.


One of the best-known narratives assuring success because of God’s promised presence is the story of Moses’ encounter with the Lord at the burning bush. After turning aside to see the burning bush and removing his sandals at the Lord’s command, the Lord continues to speak.


Exodus 3:7–12 (NASB)

7 The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.

8 So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

9 “Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them."


Note the clear emphasis in this passage on the Lord’s actions, describing His response to the affliction of His people and His plan to deliver them.


  • I have surely seen the affliction of My people . . . and [I] have given heed to their cry.

  • I am aware of their sufferings.

  • I have come down to deliver them . . . to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land.

  • The cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me

  • I have seen the oppression.


These statements noticeably accentuate that the Lord has heard the cry of His people and that He is going to answer their prayers, acting on their behalf to deliver them from their oppressors. How is He going to do this?


Image: Painting by Arnold Friberg for Cecile B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments


10 “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”


After emphasizing I,” “My,” and “Me,” describing what God has heard and He is going to do, there is a surprising shift in pronouns to “you.” The Lord is not going to deliver His people on His own, but by sending Moses – “I will send you . . . so that you may bring My people.” This is God’s pattern throughout Scripture. He has a plan, then He prepares, calls, and sends a man or a woman to carry out His plan. God often uses people to answer the prayers that ascend to His throne. Moses immediately responds by expressing his inadequacy to do the job.


11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”


Moses doesn’t seem to realize that God sovereignly used the first 80 years of his life preparing him for this very task. He spent 40 years in Pharaoh’s palace being educated in all the knowledge of the Egyptians. And he had just spent 40 years tending sheep in the wilderness, learning what it takes to survive in a harsh environment. Yet, when Moses left Egypt 40 years earlier, he left on unfavorable terms and knows he will not be warmly received. He feels inadequate to face Pharaoh and the power of Egypt, then the greatest political and military force on earth. Who is he to go to the most powerful ruler of his day and demand him to release God’s enslaved people. Feeling personally deficient to face Pharaoh and deliver God’s people, he honestly expresses his inadequacy to the Lord. God’s answer for Moses’ inadequacy is “I will be with you!” followed by assurance that Moses will succeed and bring the people to Sinai to worship.


12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.


As with Moses, God’s answer to our feelings of inadequacy is “I will be with you!” It’s not about our adequacy, but about God’s adequacy. It’s not about our wisdom, but about God’s wisdom. It’s not about our power, but about God’s power. God uses earthen vessels to fulfill His purposes so that He can display His glory and might. It’s not about the sufficiency of the clay pot, but rather it’s about the sufficiency of the treasure within the clay pot “so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7). The Lord’s grace is sufficient, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


As Corrie ten Boom aptly illustrated with an object lesson: It’s not the glove, but the hand in the glove that does the work. Apart from the hand, the glove can do nothing by itself, but when the hand fills the glove, exercising its power through the glove, the job will get done. Similarly, Jesus taught that the branch cannot bear fruit by itself. It must be attached to the vine, and the life of the vine must be flowing through it. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5 NASB). Both these analogies illustrate our dependence on the empowerment of God’s Spirit to produce God-given results.


It reminds me of the woodpecker that was pecking away at a massive pine tree. Suddenly a bolt of lightning flashed from the sky and struck the tree right where he was pecking. The force of the strike shattered the tree, toppling the upper half of the tree and hurling the woodpecker backwards through the air. Finally, when the woodpecker regained his bearings and looked at the demolished tree, he said to himself, “Wow! I didn’t know my own strength!” We laugh at the story, but it helps us to realize an important lesson. Our puny pecks will not accomplish God’s mighty purposes without the intervention of His explosive lightning bolts from heaven. It’s not by our might nor by our power, but by God’s Spirit that the mountainous obstacles will be removed, and the Lord’s purposes will be accomplished (Zechariah 4:8-7).



God chooses to use people to fulfill His purposes on earth, but He doesn’t call us, send us, and then leave us to do it on our own. He prepares us, fills us, leads us, empowers us, and goes with us; and as we do the possible, He does the impossible. Just as He promised, God proved Himself to Moses by delivering His people from Egypt with His mighty hand and bringing them to Sinai to worship. Moses was God’s earthly representative, but God performed the miracles – the ten plagues, parting the Red Sea, providing food and water in the wilderness, and more.


Sadly, at Sinai, God’s newly delivered people readily turned to the sinful ways of Egypt. While Moses delayed returning from the mountain, they commissioned Aaron to make a golden calf and debased themselves in idolatrous worship. Because of the golden calf incident, God was upset with the people, so He told Moses that He would send an angel before them to fight for them and give them success, but He would not go with them. “Say to the sons of Israel, ‘You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you.” God further instructed the people to mourn for their sin, “that I may know what I shall do with you” (Exodus 32:2-5). The people do as the Lord commands, removing all jewelry as a sign of mourning and repentance – similar to the idea of putting on sackcloth and ashes as a symbol of mourning, humility, and repentance (Exodus 33:6).


Recognizing that the Lord’s presence made all the difference, Moses was not satisfied just to have an angel and a guarantee of success. He wanted the Lord more than just the blessings and provisions that came from His hand. So, based on previous interactions, he appealed to the Lord to go with them.


Exodus 33:12–17

12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’


Since the Lord had previously told Moses that He would send an angel, Moses’ statement, “But You Yourself have not let me know whom you will send with me,” appears to be odd. However, Moses intentionally ignored the Lord’s promise of the angel and presses into God’s last statement, “that I may know what I shall do with you.” By so doing, Moses interceded for the Lord to go with them and not just send an angel. Moses does this subtly by making the request personal, “. . . whom you will send with me.” When Moses declared his inadequacy at the burning bush, God promised He would go with him to deliver the people and lead them to the promised land. Moses wants assurance that this is still the case.


Moses then reminded the Lord of the special relationship and favor He had granted him. “You have said, ‘I have know you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’” Moses is referring to the previous verse where this is so clearly demonstrated. “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). Based on this special status granted by the Lord, Moses pressed his request further.


13 “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.”


Moses leveraged God’s special favor to get to know God even more, “let me know Your ways that I may know You.” The ways of God speak of His behaviors and practices as well as His values and standards. These are known through His actions but also through His commands (Deuteronomy 5:33, 8:6; 1 Kings 3:14). By making and worshipping the golden calf, God’s people had turned aside from God’s ways (Exodus 32:8; Deuteronomy 9:12, 16). In contrast, Moses wanted to better learn God’s ways. (A thorough study of Scripture shows that God’s ways are righteous, just, and blameless in contrast to the evil, wicked, and sinful ways of man, but that is a lesson for another time.) By learning His ways, Moses will grow to know the Lord better and also know better how to please Him, thus finding increased favor with Him. Later, Moses will press his appeal to know God still further when He asks God to show him His glory.


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash. Text added.


The principles of this text are true even in human relationships. The more we know the the ways of loved ones - their behavior, habits, practices, customs, and manners as well as the values, beliefs, and standards that shape their actions, the more we come to know them, and the more we know how to please them. Further, with deepening relationship, comes the privilege of increased self-disclosure - "show me Your glory." May we share Moses’s heart to learn God’s ways that we may know Him better and live in a way that is pleasing to Him.


After this very personal appeal, Moses slips in an intercessory appeal for God’s people, “Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” In effect, Moses is reminding God of His covenant with Abraham to raise up descendants and to give them the promised land (See Exodus 33:1). I can hear the implications of Moses’ prayer, “These are Your people. You told Abraham that from him you would make a great nation. You told Abraham his descendants would be in bondage for 400 years and that You would then deliver them and give them the promised land. You heard their cry. You came to me and asked me to represent You. You promised to go with me to fulfill Your promise to Abraham and Your purpose for Your people.” God responded . . .


14 And He said, “My presence shall go with you [singular], and I will give you [singular] rest.”


In response to Moses’ intercession, God promised once again to personally go with Moses. Many languages, including Hebrew, have a singular “you” and a plural “you.” English does not. Unless one is from the southern USA and uses the word “ya’ll,” we use the same word “you” for both singular and plural. It’s difficult in this context to know if the singular “you” is meant collectively for the nation of Israel or individually for Moses. Moses’s initial inquiry was, “You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me,” so it would be easy to understand this as a personal reply to Moses. Regardless of the Lord’s intent and Moses’ understanding, Moses pressed His request further to gain assurance from the Lord that He would go not just with him, but with the entire nation.


15 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.

16For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”


Moses used His personal favor with the Lord to appeal on behalf of the people. Basically, Moses is saying, “If You don’t go with all of us, don’t bother sending an angel to lead us. Your favor is demonstrated by Your presence. How will others know we are Your people, and that You love us, approve of us, and support us if You don’t go with us. Your presence is what makes the difference between us and all other people in the world.” The Lord finally responds . . .


17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.”


Moses’ appeal was successful. Because of God’s special friendship with Moses and His favor toward Moses, God would grant His request and go with them. His glory cloud and fiery pillar would dwell in their midst and would lead them to the promised land. He would go with Moses and His people to fulfill His purposes.


The theme of God’s presence assuring success is repeated time and again throughout the pages of Scripture.


  • Joshua: God assured Joshua, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

  • Eliezer: Eliezer had success in finding a bride for Isaac because the Lord was with Him (Genesis 24:7-8, 12-14, 26-27, 40-42, 48, 51-52). “He said to them, ‘Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master’” (Genesis 24:56).

  • Joseph: Joseph found favor with Potiphar, the Jailer, and Pharaoh because God was with Him and blessed the work of his hands (Genesis 39:2-4, 21-23; 41:38- 39).

2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.

3 Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.


The result was that Potiphar placed Joseph in charge over his house and all he owned, and the Lord further blessed Potiphar’s house, his crops and all he owned because of Joseph. Even after Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and he was thrown in prison, God’s evident presence assured him favor and success.


21 But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.

22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it.

23 The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.


  • Solomon: Solomon was assured success in building the temple because the Lord was with Him.

1 Chronicles 28:20

20 Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.


Closing


The overwhelming evidence of Scripture is that God being with an individual or a group assures success in fulfilling His purposes. It’s not about the adequacy of the individual but the adequacy of God. God will supply what we lack. Just like the Lord supplied the wisdom, ability, favor, and resources to His people in the Bible to accomplish the purposes, He will do the same for us when we are about His work. God is with us, and He is for us.


This isn’t to say that we will not experience hardship. Joseph succeeded amidst great hardship – mistreatment by his brothers, false accusations by Potiphar’s wife, imprisonment, and seven years of famine. This also doesn’t mean that we will succeed in everything we put our hands to – the question is always, “Has God called us to this task?” He doesn’t bless disobedience. Succeeding requires that we follow Him and do what He says. As the prophet Azariah said to king Asa, “The Lord is with you when you are with Him . . . if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:1-2). It goes both ways.


Finally, God’s measuring stick for success is not the same measuring stick the world uses. When we get to the end of our lives, the Lord will not evaluate our success in this life based on how much money we made, the size of house we had, the materialistic toys we amassed, the positions we held, or our social status, but whether we carried out His will. Furthermore, Moses wasn’t held responsible for the sinful choices of God’s people. Even though some rebelled along the way and died in the wilderness, Moses was to be faithful to God. Success isn’t always measured by the response of others. So far as it is possible with you, you be faithful, and leave the rest up to God. God alone will judge the success of your life.


What has God called you to do? Some of God’s purposes are the same for all of us – follow Christ, become like Him, and be channels of His love and ministry to a broken world. God has also called us to know His ways so that we might know Him better. Then, flowing from a deepening relationship with God and based on His ways, many are then called to build a marriage, raise a family, work a job, fulfill a ministry, share your faith, or complete particular assignments given by God. As you do what God has called you to do, know that He is with you! Like my granddaughter called on her mom and dad when she needed help, turn to the Lord time and again to vent your frustrations, receive clarifying instructions, and obtain His assistance to successfully complete the tasks He has given you.




Recent Posts

See All

5 Comments


sharon
Oct 31, 2023

Amen to what she said! Paul your blogs are always so welcome and encouraging, but this one is particularly so for me today. You really have such a gift for bringing the everyday events of life and weaving them into your writing as illustrations. I will add my thanks to what joyjagrace said. Your hard work, wisdom and diligent study are much appreciated.

Like
paul
Nov 01, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Sharon. God bless you!

Like

joyjagrace
Oct 31, 2023

Thank you for another great blog. i had several emotions as I read it. The tears rolled down my face, there were times I burst out laughing and I also squirmed too. I felt God’s conviction, comfort and very personal challenge. That’s the power of God’s Word. I marvel at how deep and personal HE gets. Then HIS timing is always spot on.

Lately God has been challenging me to come out of the long wilderness I have been in and take steps of faith to walk out what He’s taught me. To get off the shelf, walk forward, leave the past behind and open my mouth and watch HIM fill it and help me do what I never …

Like
joyjagrace
Nov 01, 2023
Replying to

Amen‼️ 👍 Thank you for Pastor Paul for reminding and challenging us fellow believers of God’s Word the way that you do. 😀 “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ✝️✡️🙏‼️

Like
bottom of page