I am often frustrated by the fact that even though I want to be a leader after God’s own heart, I can’t quite carry it out as I want to. I desire to be closer to him, abiding in a daily, intimate, rich relationship with God, but it seems I can only get so close. It’s not God–he has drawn near to me. It has something to do with me.

Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the leaders of Israel went up the mountain. There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a pavement of brilliant sapphire, as clear as the heavens. And though Israel’s leaders saw God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they shared a meal together in God’s presence!
– Exodus 24:9-11

Israel’s leaders not only saw God, they shared a meal together in his presence! Read Exodus 24:9-18 for all the details of this account. This is a fascinating passage that I think provides some interesting insights into how we come close to God. Basically, four groups of people come into four “levels” of fellowship with God. (1) The Israelite people stood at the base of the mountain and watched.  (2) Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s two sons, and 70 of Israel’s leaders went up onto the mountain. (3) Moses and Joshua went further up the mountain. (4) Moses went to the top of the mountain and disappeared into the cloud where he spent 40 days and nights with the Lord.

Not much has changed over thousands of years. Some of God’s followers are not yet ready to enter God’s awesome presence. They stand at the base of the mountain (or sit in the auditorium) and watch, but they do witness how God is working in the lives of his leaders (v. 17). Some are ready to climb the mountain and be in God’s personal presence, but they remain there. A few are prepared to go even higher to be even closer to God. And then there are a very few people (Moseses) who are called into and respond to an intimate communion with the Lord.

I’d like to think I’m a Moses (or at least a Joshua)–that I’ve gotten away from the crowds to hike up the proverbial mountain to spend time with God, but I’m probably more like the 70, who could only go so far. I want to be more intimate with God, but my attitudes, lifestyle, decisions, level of faith, indifference, etc., keep me from getting any closer than I am right now.

The Good News: God is always inviting us to come closer (Rev. 3:20) to commune with him. But first, he calls us to be diligent and turn (repent) from our indifference (Rev. 3:19). Someday we will dwell with God in his presence forever (Rev. 21:3). In the meantime, we can be in fellowship with God, gathering in his presence, power, and purposes here on earth.

You are an awesome, holy, all-powerful God, and yet you invite me into your presence. I want to see you and know you and walk today in communion with you, but at the same time, I recognize your holiness and power. I don’t deserve on my own merit to be in fellowship with you, but because you are so rich in mercy, you have invited me in. Thank you, Father, for your invitation to come nearer to you. Help me push away all the keeps me distant from you.

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Michael Mack has led Small Group Leadership full-time since 2012, but has been involved in small group ministry for more than 25 years. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. Their family small group, which includes their four young adult children, has much potential (and much anticipation) for future growth and multiplication. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of great friends who participate together in various charity rides. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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