Have you ever gone for an extended period of time without eating? Maybe you were trying to reduce calories or you skipped meals for a lab test. When we are hungry, our appetite demands to be satisfied. I wonder what would happen if we had that same type of insatiable hunger for God?
In Exodus 33, Moses shows us an example of spiritual hunger. Moses was on the mountain where he had received the Ten Commandments. After he had been gone 40 days, he came down to witness an all-out pagan party. God was angry. He called the Israelites a “stiff-necked people” and told Moses that, in order to honor His covenant with Israel, they would still get to the Promised Land. But God would not go with them. He explained that if He went with them, “I might destroy you on the way” (v. 3).
Moses, in his reply, reveals his hunger for God. His spiritual appetite had been cultivated by the time spent in God’s presence. Verse 11 says, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” So when God offered Moses this lower-shelf deal of “I will bless you but my presence will not go there,” Moses’ holy hunger kicked in.
In verse 15, Moses asks God not to remove His presence, but to be present with the people of Israel on their journey. And when the Lord agreed (v. 17), Moses pushed even further. Moses wanted even more, “Now show me your glory” (v. 18). Moses hungered for God; he wanted to see God.
In this dramatic passage, Moses is rewarded with a glimpse of God’s glory. In his present earthly state, he was unable to look fully on God. Instead, God placed Moses safely in the cleft of a rock with His hand covering his eyes. He is granted a glimpse of God’s back (vv. 22–23). What an incredible moment that must have been!
You and I have been created with holy hunger. Our physical body parallels our spiritual body. The Bible teaches that all creation has been “groaning” as it waits for God (Rom. 8:22). Psalm 42:1 describes this longing: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” We cannot fill this hunger with relationships, success, addictions, popularity, or anything else. Holy hunger is only filled by God through our relationship with Jesus Christ. And then, like Moses, we will be unwilling to move forward without His presence in our lives (vv. 14-17).