I love Exodus 33. There are key verses in this chapter that I like to visit often. Back up to chapter 32. Moses had been with the Lord on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights.
As he came down there was the sound of celebration. While he was gone, Aaron had listened to the people. They were impatient at Moses’ delay. They said to Aaron in verse 1, “…Come, make us gods that shall go before us…for as this Moses…we do not know what has become of him.”
Aaron had them bring him their golden earrings. From them he fashioned a golden calf. When Moses saw it he threw the two tablets of stone done and broke them.
Moses burned their calf in the fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made them drink it. When he confronted his brother, Aaron lied. Verse 24 says, “…I cast it (the gold earrings) into the fire, and this calf came out.”
In verse 32 Moses interceded for the people. He confessed what they had done, and asked the Lord to forgive them. If the Lord wouldn’t forgive them, then Moses asked that his name would be blotted out of God’s book.
Exodus 33:2 said that God would send His angel before them, but in verse 3 He said, “…for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
Now that I have set the scene for you, let’s go to verses 7-11. Moses would go into the tabernacle of meeting and meet with God. Joshua would go with him. Where were the rest? Standing in front of their tents watching.
Verse 9 says, “And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.”
Verse 11 says, “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua…did not depart from the tabernacle.”
No wonder the Lord chose Joshua to lead the people after Moses died. He was a young man who loved to dwell in the Lord’s presence.