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Ultimate Favor

ULTIMATE FAVOR

 

The word “favor” is used often in the Church today.

Preachers across America promise people that God is going to favor them; they just need to claim it.

Sadly, what they mean by favor is limited to possessions, positions, and purchases—better homes, cars, and jobs, a happier family and a growing income. When we live for this kind of favor, we risk losing God’s ultimate favor. We short-change ourselves when we put the things of this earth above the things of Heaven. God wants us to turn our lives right side up by seeking His ultimate favor.

In the Bible, there is a concept of a Promised Land, a place of peace, comfort, and provision. The original Promised Land was a gift that God gave to Israel—a literal place called Canaan, a fertile land bursting with oversized fruits and flowing rivers. It was the stuff of dreams for the Israelites, a people who’d been enslaved for 400 years. Yet when they arrived at Canaan’s border—a land of plenty in every sense—God made a surprising statement to Moses.

Exodus 33:3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.

This may sound harsh, but when it’s put into context, we see it’s God’s mercy.

He explains why: “Lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Even after all the miraculous things God did for the Israelites, they complained every time they faced a new hardship. The miracles God performed for them never translated into faith. Instead, the people attacked God’s character. They accused God of delivering them just to see them die in the desert. Every time there was an adversity, they accused Moses and God. They forgot the sufferings of slavery and desired to return to Egypt.

But Moses knew the goodness of God, as demonstrated in all His supernatural works for Israel. In fact, the Lord’s favor toward His people was unlimited. No matter what obstacle they faced or how impossible it seemed, God mercifully brought them through every time.

So when the Lord said He wouldn’t go with them into the Promised Land, Moses answered in Exodus 33:15-16, “And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?’”

In other words: “Lord, if you won’t be there, then I don’t want to go.” Moses discerned the difference between God’s unlimited favor and His ultimate favor.

Moses knew how important God’s blessings were to Israel. His supernatural works had saved their lives many times. He sent manna from heaven when the people faced starvation. He brought water from a rock when their bodies were parched. However, Moses recognized that even those vital blessings weren’t the ultimate favor of God.

Therefore Moses made this request:
Exodus 33:13 Please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight.

Moses knew that, ultimately, God’s favor wasn’t found in the blessings He provided—it was found in knowing the Lord Himself.

I thank God for all His earthly blessings. We have seen His amazing work in people’s lives. He restores marriages and broken lives. He provides for those who struggle economically. He brings healing to people’s sick bodies.

All of these things speak of God’s unlimited favor—His ability to breathe life into our desert wilderness. We all experience His favor in our relationships, our health, our work, our country. When we struggle in any area of life, or our circumstances get too difficult, He sustains us with His soothing presence. God has done things in our lives we never could imagine happening. His unlimited favor knows no boundaries.

Yet Moses knew something of God that exceeds His blessings, even His supernatural works. He knew that beyond God’s unlimited favor is His ultimate favor. This sort of favor isn’t found in the things God does—it’s found in the Lord Himself. As Moses said, in so many words, “Lord, what good are grapes and milk and honey—all the blessings of life—if you’re not present?”

Let me ask you, “What if Heaven was a place where you could have everything you wanted—where all your dreams come true, every aspiration and desire is made a reality—but God isn’t there? Would you want to go?”

It’s a legitimate question for any Christian. Do we desire God’s blessings apart from knowing Him, the Giver of all good things? Or, like Moses, would we prefer to have every blessing stripped away rather than lose God’s presence?

Unfortunately, God’s unlimited favor does not draw us close to God. Even after the Lord blessed them powerfully, the Israelites turned to idols. While Moses was communing with God in the mountains, the people melted down their jewelry and made a golden statue of a calf.

You see, when you pursue God’s blessings without seeking God himself, you end up in idolatry, pursuing something earthen. Today, there are prosperous people who have rejected God and serve “mother earth”, or they consider themselves their own god and live only for self.

Romans 1:25
…for they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

We have golden idols of our own, things we seek apart from God: Job success, financial security, material comfort. Those aren’t bad things—they’re great blessings. But if we want them more than we want God—if they become the focus of our life’s pursuit—we’ve built an idol. And God will say to us, “Go ahead, pursue that. Enjoy it. But you won’t find me present in it.”

It’s not that we aren’t grateful for God’s blessings. Our problem is we stop there. We say, “Lord, your unlimited favor is enough for me.” We settle for less than God’s ultimate favor.

Let us declare with Moses, “Lord, if you’re not there, I won’t go”? If we mean it, God will answer us the way he did Moses in verse 14: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Rather than desiring the Promised Land, Moses asked, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). I can imagine God’s pleasure at hearing this. Every earthly father knows the constant pleading of his children’s voices asking for things, but nothing warms a dad’s heart like hearing his child say, “Daddy, I love you, I want to be with you, I want to be like you.”

God was so pleased with Moses’ desire that He granted His request, as far as He could allow it. God’s unapproachable light is too fierce for humans to experience fully.

Exodus 33:19-23
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

Scripture says Moses’ face was transformed by God’s glory—a change so powerful he had to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not be alarmed at the outcome. Anyone who encounters Jesus experiences a similar transformation—a change so profound the whole world sees it and is awed.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We don’t have to hide in a crevice as Moses did; God’s glory has been revealed fully in Jesus. We don’t have to wait for water to be poured from a rock; rivers of Living Water flow through us continually from His indwelling Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, God’s ultimate favor isn’t in a house or car or job—it’s in His abiding presence, the Holy Spirit, and He doesn’t withhold it from us. Christ’s blood has lifted the veil completely so we can know His glory without hindrance. That is God’s supreme, ultimate favor!

What does your heart long for? Is your main dream a financial goal, a material desire? Or is it the hope of God’s glory, which transforms all of life? He has blessed you abundantly with His unlimited favor. Yet there’s more to know of our great God than earthly blessings. He wants you to know His glorious presence, His ultimate favor, in every realm of life.

Indeed, our Lord reveals His glory to all who ask and seek for it diligently. Contrary to some Christians’ thinking, it’s not an ecstatic feeling that overcomes you. Nor is it a kind of supernatural aura or angelic light that bursts forth. Those are lesser manifestations. Simply put, God’s ultimate glory is a revelation of His nature and attributes abiding in us!

Paul understood this: Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Moses’ experience with the glory of God demonstrates this truth. The Lord sent Moses to deliver Israel without giving him a full revelation of who the God of Israel was. The Lord merely told him, “Go, and say I AM sent you.” But He gave no explanation of who “I AM” is.

Moses had a hunger and thirst to know the great I AM—to know what His nature and character were all about. And the Lord answered Moses’ prayer. First, he instructed Moses to hide himself in the cleft of a rock. As Moses waited for the glory of God to appear, he saw no thunder, no lightning, no shaking of the earth. Rather, God’s glory came to him in a simple revelation:

Exodus 34:6-8
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.

Now, God only reveals His power or glory to accomplish His purpose. In this case, it certainly wasn’t to give Moses a moment of ecstasy. And it wasn’t to give him a legacy, something he could tell his children and grandchildren about. No—God allowed Moses to see His glory so that he might be changed by the sight of it!

And the same is true for us today. God, the Holy Spirit, reveals His glory to us so that, by seeing it, we might be changed into His very own image! Jesus Christ is the express image of who God is. When our Lord became flesh, it was as a full revelation of the heavenly Father’s mercy, grace, goodness, and readiness to forgive. God wrapped up everything of His nature and character in Jesus. And any revelation of His glory to us now is meant to change us into an expression of Jesus Christ!

Once we get this revelation of God’s glory in the person, Jesus Christ — of His love, mercy, grace, long-suffering, and readiness to forgive — the Holy Spirit will continually open our eyes to more of these aspects of His nature and character. We will have an ever-increasing revelation of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Never stop seeking God’s ultimate favor. Daily, die to yourself and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Get to know God by reading His Word and appropriating it in your life until the vision of Christ’s glory bursts forth in you! As you remain in the Word, seeking the revelation of His glory, you’ll be changed. And you’ll keep changing, from one degree of glory to another!

If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the Cross, you can experience God’s glory through His salvation today by confessing Jesus as Lord, repenting of your sin, and following Him by dying to yourself in baptism. Then you will be raised unto a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, and you can live a life knowing God’s ultimate favor.