“And he said, ‘If your face is not going, do not lead us from this place. And in what way will it be known, then, that I have found favor in your eyes―I and your people? Is it not in your going with us and that we have been treated specially―I and your people―from all the people who are on the face of the earth?’”
Moses also clarifies the motive behind his request for God’s presence (as we discussed above). When God’s threatened to destroy the nation of Israel because of their idolatry, part of Moses’ defense of God’s people was based on what the pagan world would say about God’s activity (Exodus 32:12)—Moses’ concern was that the righteous name not be besmirched in the eyes of the surrounding pagan nations. Here that theme surfaces once again. Moses poses the rhetorical question of how the world will know that God has favored Moses and the Israelites. And here is the answer to Moses’ rhetorical question. It is in God’s presence and in his favor that the world will know that the nation of Israel is favored by God (see Psalm 117, 1 Chronicles 16:31).
There is some disparity in how translations render Wnylep.nIw> (weniphleynu)—“we have been treated specially.” Most major translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, KJV, RSV) translate this word with respect to God distinguishing or making his people separate from the rest of the earth—“so that we are distinct” reads the ESV. Yet, hl;P’ (palah), which is the verbal root that Wnylep.nIw> (weniphleynu) is derived from, speaks of a distinguishing that comes as a result of special or preferential treatment. Thus, in the context of this passage, the distinguishing from the peoples of the earth is a result of both God’s presence and the blessing that comes as a result of God’s presence.
Though God’s people are set apart from the rest of the earth as a result of God’s presence and blessing, the glory of the Gospel is that we are to take the good news of Jesus Christ to all the world! Though we are set apart by God’s blessings, people from all over the world can enter into those blessings through faith in Jesus Christ. But notice that the receiving of such blessings comes as a result of entering into the body of God’s people—this is not a universalistic promise, but one only given to those who belong to Christ. Beloved, what a joy it is to watch someone partake of such blessings for the first time; so why is it that we don’t share the gospel with more people? Oh, what blessings we so often withhold from our friends, neighbors, and loved ones because we are often timid when it comes to inviting people to come and join our fellowship with the great King of all creation—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.