Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” (Exodus 33:11-13)
I Know Thee By Name; I have Engraven Thee Upon The Palms Of My Hands
Above we see that Moses, the prophet and lawgiver whom God raised up to lead His chosen people Israel out of bondage and into the promised land, desired a close relationship with the Lord. He not only had an intimate walk with God, but he was also graciously granted a relationship where he and the Lord would actually converse with one another face to face! Here’s a bit of important background about what had been going on around the time described in our text. Moses, whom the Bible informs us in Numbers 12:3 was very meek (KJV) and a very humble man (NASB) had been up on Mount Sinai for 40 days as Yahweh Elohim, the LORD God Himself, gave His Law to His humble servant.
However, while Moses was gone the Israelites had grown impatient and had begun to rebel against the prophet. In a similar fashion we’re seeing something similar today with evangelicalism turning away from sola Scriptura, the final authoority of the Bible, in favor of corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. But as we know from the Master, the Lord Jesus, to rebel against those whom God sends to speak for Him is to actually rebel against the Lord Himself — “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).
Now because Moses had been away so long the Hebrew people began to do things their own way, and started running their lives the way they wanted to, instead of the way their Creator had commanded them to. This is a also vivid picture of our own day: Our Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, has been away for a long time; and today the unbelieving pagans are busy doing what was right in his own eyes (cf. Judges 17:6). And sadly, many who would call themselves Christians in the Emerging Church are busy imitating them as well. In Exodus 33:5 we read of God’s anger against this rebellious people — For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you.’”
But Moses, instead of causing division among his people—his congregation as it were—and rather than being “holier than thou,” humbly identified himself with this flock he’d been called to shepherd and interceded on their behalf in prayer to the Lord. This type of identification with, and intercession for, God’s people is something that you will see over and over from Yahweh’s true prophets in the Old Testament. No matter how much spiritual insight we may feel we have, we need always remember, but for the grace of God we ourselves would be those for whom we’re interceding (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10).
Now let me draw your attention to the “b part,” or the last part of verse 12 above. Moses says to the Lord — “you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’” The King James Version says — “I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight.” Now to us the phrase, “I know you by name” may sound a little odd; but to the Hebrew people, to know someone “by name” signified an intimate personal relationship. As professor of Semitic Languages and Old Testament Dr. Walter Kaiser points out, “I know you by name” (v.12) is tantamount to saying, “I have singled you out” or “I have chosen/selected you.” And this is also a picture of the relationship that we as Christians have with God as well; He knows each of us by name, having singled us out from the world.
In fact Ephesians 1:4 says that the Lord — chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. So even though sometimes people think: “I’m not that important; God is too big and too remote to really hear my prayers,” the Scripture we just read in Ephesians clearly tells us that every Christian has been specifically chosen by God because He knows each of us by name. Why, even the very hairs of your head are all numbered as Jesus tells us in Luke 12:7. And granted, for some of us this numbering of the hairs grows easier as it disappears.
Yes, beloved of God we do live in troubling times. But no matter how difficult your current trial may be, or whatever you may have done since you were born again, you can trust that God still knows thee by name; and if you will but turn from your sin, it’s not too late for you to begin all over again (cf. 1 John 1:9). And don’t you ever forget how very precious you are to the Lord; so much so dear Christian, that He wrote your name on His palms at his crucifixion (cf. Isaiah 49:16), and those nail-scarred hands of Christ Jesus are vivid proof of His love for all eternity!
Today, may you hear the voice of the Lord as He says to you, “Welcome home.”