Desolate places are uncluttered and quiet. From the far distance you could see them coming – a seemingly endless stream of people traveling the Sinai desert. They were the descendants of Israel who had left Egypt and now were headed to the Promised Land. A pillar of cloud would lead the caravan by day and a pillar of fire by night.
Once the Sun sets in the desert it gets dark pretty quickly. In anticipation of dusk the caravan halted and the people began to spread out and set up camp. Tents rose up in clusters – tribal families camped together. But there was one man in particular who went outside the tribal formations and pitched a tent some distance away from the camp. His name was Moses and the tent he set up was called the “tent of meeting”. He was God’s designated leader of the people and His prophet. Whenever Moses went into the tent of meeting, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, an indicator that the Lord had a conversation with the prophet. There had been serious issues, and the Lord considered delegating His leadership to an angel of His choosing. He said (Exodus 33:2-3):
“I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”
In the tent of meeting Moses fought for his countrymen in prayer. He said to the Lord: “If your Presence does not go with us, then don’t send us to the Promised Land! Remember that this nation is your people.” – Remarkably the prophet convinced the Lord to stay with His nation. Moses boldly added another request (Exodus 33:18):
“Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’”
The prophet stood inside the entrance of the tent of meeting when the Lord asked him to step outside and hide behind a rock before He would make His appearance. And so he did. As the Lord passed by He covered the cleft of rock where Moses hid with His hand. After the Lord removed His hand the prophet was allowed to see His back, but not His face, thus witnessing God’s glory from a close distance.
Although Moses had desired to see the face of the Lord, it had to have been an awesome experience to watch His glory pass by way back then in the Sinai Desert. However, 1400 years later his prayer was answered above and beyond his expectations. God sent His Son Jesus into the world so everybody could see the face of God (John 1:14):
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Today the Tent of Meeting still stands. God’s children have conversations with the Lord in the tent of their heart. Their heart is a holy meeting place where prayers are formed and input is received from heaven. I believe people of prayer are the heartbeat of their nation. Following God’s lead as His dearly loved children, they change history and bring hope into the world.