#4 - The presence The Biggest Battles Happen

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1. Desecrating the tent leads to sin, damage communion, and God’s judgment.

Numbers 25:6–9 (NIV)
6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand
8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped;
9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.
In this passage, we observe how the Israelites gave in to idolatry and sin while they were camped close to the Moabites.
They had been seduced by the Moabites' paganism and their fake gods, and the Israelites had fallen for their charm.
However, God's anger was aroused as a result of this sin and temptation, and a terrible plague struck the populace.
The grandson of the priest Aaron had to take a stand and execute justice on those who were openly transgressing in order to stop the plague. Phinehas was the only person who could do this.
Phinehas acted in the presence of God and was rewarded for his faithfulness.
Hebrews 12:4 NIV
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Illustration: Imagine a beautiful garden that you've been tending to for years. You've planted all kinds of flowers and vegetables, and you spend hours each day caring for them. But one day, someone comes in and starts pulling up all your plants and destroying everything you've worked so hard to cultivate. This is what sin does to our relationship with God - it destroys the beauty and life that He has planted in us.
"Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay." - R. Zaccharias
"Sin is like a snake; it will always bite you when you least expect it." - A.W. Tozer

2. The importance of seeking God's presence

We can learn from Phinehas' example that it is in God's presence that we find the courage and strength to resist temptation and sin.
We give ourselves over to God's power and direction when we intentionally seek His presence.
Other biblical characters like Moses (Hebrews 11:24–29), Jesus (Matthew 26:36–46; Luke 22:39–46), and Paul (1 Timothy 2:8) provide examples of how this principle was put to use in their daily lives.
Hebrews 11:24–29 NIV
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. 29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
Jesus in the Gethsemane
Matthew 26:36–46 NIV
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Jesus again as usual went in the presence of God to pray and fight the battle.
Luke 22:39–46 NIV
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
1 Timothy 2:8 (NIV)
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
In the midst of their struggles, each of these people looked for God's help, and He was able to fortify and sustain them.
Illustration: Think of a hiker who is lost in the woods. He has no idea which way to go and is starting to get anxious. But then, he comes across a trail map that shows him exactly where he is and how to get back on track. In the same way, seeking God's presence is like finding a map that guides us through the trials and challenges of life.
"God is more interested in your relationship with Him than in your religious performance." - Rick Warren

3. The obstacles to seeking God's presence

Although seeking God's presence is crucial for our spiritual growth and well-being, there are many obstacles that can keep us from doing so.
James 1:6-8 warns us about the danger of double-mindedness, where we try to pursue both God and the world at the same time.
James 1:6–8 NIV
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
We may also be distracted by worry and anxiety (Matthew 6:25-34), or we may neglect our relationships and responsibilities (1 Pet 3:7).
Matthew 6:25–34 NIV
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
1 Peter 3:7 NIV
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
These obstacles can prevent us from experiencing the fullness of God's presence and power in our lives.
Illustration: Imagine you're trying to make an important phone call, but you're in a crowded and noisy place. You can barely hear yourself think, let alone carry on a conversation. This is what distractions do to our ability to seek God's presence - they keep us from hearing His voice and receiving His guidance.
"Many people are so busy trying to make a living that they forget to make a life." - Joyce Meyer
"The devil is not afraid of your position, your title, or your power. He's only afraid of your prayer." - Samuel Chadwick

4. The rewards of seeking God's presence

Let's not forget the benefits of seeking God's presence, either.
According to James 4:8, when we get close to God, He gets close to us and we can feel His joy, peace, and love.
As we navigate the difficulties of life, He can provide us with direction and guidance as well.
Our hearts are cleansed, our faith is strengthened, and our character is transformed when we are in God's presence.
As we seek God's presence, we become more like Him and are better equipped to do His will.
James 4:8 NIV
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Illustration: Consider a sculptor who is chiseling away at a block of marble. He knows exactly what he wants to create, but it takes hours of hard work and dedication to bring his vision to life. In the same way, seeking God's presence is like being shaped and molded by the Master Sculptor, who knows exactly what He wants to create in us. The end result is a masterpiece that reflects His glory and love.
"The greatest thing in the world is to be in the presence of God, doing the will of God." - Charles Spurgeon


In conclusion, we see from Numbers 25:6–9 and other passages in the Bible that our biggest battles happen in the presence of God.
When we seek His presence, we are strengthened and sustained by His power, and we are better equipped to stand against temptation and sin.
However, there are many obstacles that can keep us from seeking God's presence, such as double-mindedness, worry, and neglect of our responsibilities. Yet, when we overcome these obstacles and draw near to God, we experience the many rewards of His presence, including His peace, joy, and guidance.

Reflective questions:

1. How intentional are you about seeking God's presence in your life?
2. What obstacles keep you from seeking God's presence, and how can you overcome them?
3. In what ways have you experienced the rewards of seeking God's presence, such as His peace, joy, and guidance?
4. How can you encourage others to seek God's presence in the midst of their trials and struggles?
5. What step can you take this week to seek God's presence more intentionally in your life?
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