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: “Don’t send us to the Promised Land if your Presence does not go with us. Remember that this nation is your people.”
Remarkably the prophet convinced the Lord to stay with His nation. To his relief God confirmed that He would do the very thing Moses asked Him to do and instead of seeking a substitute guide, lead the people of Israel to the Promised Land Himself. Moses boldly added another request (Exodus 33:18):
“Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
God’s glory is in His goodness, mercy and compassion. Moses stood hidden in a cleft of a rock which the Lord covered with His hand until His glory had passed by. 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. In the end however the prayer of Moses was answered above and beyond his expectations. 1400 years later God sent His Son Jesus into the world so everybody could see the face of God.
Today the Tent of Meeting still stands. I believe that the people of prayer are the heartbeat of their nation. God’s children have conversations with the Lord in the tent of their heart. Their heart is the holy meeting place where they hear His voice. Following God’s lead as His dearly loved children, they change history and bring hope into the world.