Exodus 33 – this infamous text where Moses seems to incite God to change His mind, where Moses threatens God by refusing to leave His presence, this incredible text about prayer and relationship and destiny – there are so many things in this text that are unique and bring me to a place of deep meditation.
Moses could talk to God like he did in that particular conversation, with boldness and also without any reservations in speaking his mind, because he’d been walking with God in an intimate relationship for so many years.
Intimacy creates a different kind of conversation.
And intimacy is created over time.
Obviously that’s not a new idea, but one of the things that I’m seeing in this text right now has to do with fermentation.
• God created the fermentation process when He created the world
• And I think there has to be a part of us that believes He did that – He created this process – for the same reasons He did everything else He did in nature, and that was as a revelation of Himself and of spiritual reality.
• The image of the natural journey of a grape is not just an image of transformation overtime, it’s not just that the thing changes, it’s that it becomes more potent over time.
• The story of fermentation is not just a story of change, it’s a story of something becoming increasingly effective because of the length of its lifespan
It seems that for Moses, in this story in Exodus 33, the relationship had grown in potency overtime. This conversation with God was at least 50 years in the meeting, Moses chose to leave Pharaoh’s palace and all of its pleasures and treasures in favor of his calling and destiny in the presence and plan of Yahweh (Hebrews 11).
Our relationships, including and especially our relationship with God, doesn’t just become more secure the longer we grow into it, it actually becomes more potent. And that seems to be by design:
• It’s designed to become more powerful
• It’s designed to become more effective
• It’s designed to become more free over time
And what fascinates me in light of this story is made even more rich as I look at Jesus and see how the incarnation and the possibility of Pentecost causes this process of “relational fermentation” to increase exponentially.
In John 2 I see the strange story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana, and his mother coaxing him into openly exercising His miraculous power and authority. Honestly, you see in that relationship between Mary and Jesus the same kind of dynamic as you do between Moses and God in Exodus 33. He tells her it’s not His time, she seems to brush Him off and simply tells the servants to do whatever he says to do (how reminiscent of Moses and God in Exodus 33).
And what happens in this scene, after this stunning conversation, is that Jesus takes a substance that should not have any potency at all, and because of His presence and blessing over the water, the process of fermentation is expedited at an unthinkable rate. There is no mixing the water with the grape juice and then waiting on the grapes to ferment, there is only what happens when His word is spoken over it (and also the obedience of the servants as they carry out Jesus’ instructions).
Perhaps one of the things John 2 is telling us about is how the Incarnation creates an expedited opportunity for people to grow in their understanding and relationship with God.
The disciples come to know Jesus personally and have conversations that no one could dream humans could have with God, and they do all of this in the course of three short years. They become the water that is turned into wine. In the presence of Jesus, the kind of intimacy that profoundly affects relationships happens faster than anyone could’ve anticipated it would.
And the same argument could be made for Pentecost. It took 10 short days for the upper room crowd to experience the trans forming power of God in a way that they hadn’t experienced in all three years of their walk with Jesus – and arguable that no one had experienced in the history of the world! In three years Peter had grown at an exponential rate, but to see the difference between Peter in John 21 compared to Peter in Acts 2 leaves no doubt that the fermentation process had once again been expedited. The potency had been increased in a way that no one could’ve imagined.
The longer we walk in this Spirit-filled relationship with God, the more potent the relationship becomes in our lives and in the world around us.