When faced with options, when does choosing the lesser option actually become the greater? These are important life lessons as we follow Jesus. 

It is a timeless choice that echoes through history. Whom will you choose? Which road will you take? What will you follow?

Consider what happened to Israel when Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving God’s Law. After waiting a long time for his return, the people began to question if there might be another god who could lead them out of this wilderness. And so they got the religious leaders to come up with a solution. The result was everyone gave up some gold so that a golden calf god could become the new saviour. Maybe this will get them out of the wilderness.

The ensuing story includes a conversation between God and Moses where God says that he will give the people all that were promised as a severance package, but He would part ways. They would still get their house in Canaan, but God wanted a divorce. He would not go to the Promised Land with them.

Exodus 33:
When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’”So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

The people’s choice to follow the cash cow was heart-breaking and demonstrated their discontent with God. The jewellery they wore was a reminder of the jewellery they gave up to have a golden calf god. It was the lipstick on the collar of the unfaithful man and the lover’s shirt that she wore home. It signified the broken fellowship and fidelity to God.

Like an estranged couple with a mediator, God and his people relied on Moses to pass along messages. Instead of the Tabernacle in the midst of the people, Moses had to leave the camp to talk to God.

Exodus 33:
Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent.
As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Can you see the longing heart of the people? They saw the cloud descend to the entrance of Moses’ tent of meeting and a man who could be personal with their estranged God. They saw this and worshipped from a distance.

The work of Jesus opens the path of reconciliation. We no longer have to stand back and worship God from afar as he speaks to others. We can make our way to the tent of meeting and enter in to a personal face-to-face encounter with God. Will you choose distant God or Abba’s face?