Exodus 33:11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
This is a fascinating verse, particularly in light of what the Lord is quoted as saying after this: “’But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’” (Exodus 33:20) The relationship was obviously one of almost casual intimacy, but it didn’t depend on vision. That said, the other half of this verse is also striking, because it says that Joshua never left the tent, meaning he was there for all of Moses’ conversations with God. That was a level of training far exceeding what any seminary can give! I am reminded of the youngest person I’ve ever baptized. Little Miu’s mother was not married when Miu was born, but she had encountered Christ during her pregnancy and was totally committed to Him. After the birth the mother had no one to depend on but the Lord, and she became a passionate pray-er. With that example, little Miu learned to pray about as soon as she learned to talk, and by the time I met her, when she was around four, I think, her prayers would put those of most adults to shame for their intimacy, simplicity, and faith. Her mother met a young man in our church and I had the privilege of marrying them, and then circumstances took the young family away from us geographically. However, with no prompting from anyone, Miu decided that she wanted to be baptized by me before they left, at the tender age of five, and I was honored to do so. I think her training in faith had a lot in common with that of Joshua. I think prayer is much more caught than taught. When we see and hear examples of genuine intimacy with God, it can’t help but impact us. Moses’ relationship with God imprinted on Joshua, and he became a worthy successor.
As I have written many times, I grew up in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing, and I couldn’t be more grateful. My parents had consistent times of daily personal devotions, though they never made a big deal of them. I don’t know whether they regularly shared with each other what the Lord had said to them, but I have been very grateful the Lord has led Cathy and me to share daily, after we have had our individual devotions. Often we are blessed and spoken to by the Lord through each other. Our spiritual intimacy is a reflection and an extension of of our intimacy with the Lord. That’s not to say that either is perfect, but it is to say that it would be hard to separate them. One of my great anticipations of heaven is that all barriers to spiritual intimacy will be removed, and all my communications will be totally honest and real on every level. In college I switched from a Chemistry major to a Speech/English major precisely because I realized how essential communication is, seeing all the barriers to it that were raised by my trying to relate to East Tennessee from a Japanese context. Those barriers are trivial, compared to the barriers between God and man, but nothing is impossible for God. I want to have the level of intimacy with Him that was enjoyed by Adam before the fall, by Moses here, and by Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. I can’t generate that, but I believe it is what God desires for me.
Father, thank You for the relationship I enjoy with You now, and for the anticipation and assurance that it will someday be perfected. (1 Corinthians 13:12) May I walk in the gratitude and obedience that are essential to that, so that I may be the servant and the son that You desire, for the blessing of those around me and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!