You go and then come back and tell us…

January 21, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Exo 19:9 The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD.

Exo 20:18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.
Exo 20:19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”
Exo 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”

In this part of scripture, God is preparing His chosen people for what’s to come. They have just come out of Egypt and have traveled to Mount Sinai. They are being readied to enter the land that God promised Abraham 430 years ago. Moses tells all of Israel to consecrate themselves and then brings them to the mountain to present them before the Lord. No one is allowed on the mountain except Moses and Aaron. The people see all of what is going on and they tremble and stand at a distance. Then they say something that is very telling:

“Moses, you speak and we’ll do whatever you tell us, but if God speaks to us, we’ll die” (paraphrasing).

This really doesn’t make any sense does it? If they will die when God speaks to them, what’s protecting Moses? Why wouldn’t Moses die? Was he somehow different? While that’s a possibility, scripture really doesn’t say. But looking at what has already happened and what was going to happen, I think that there is another reason they said this that makes more sense.

The people didn’t want to be responsible. See, if Moses speaks to them and they disobey (which happened very often) then they could claim that they misheard. But can you say that to God? If God spoke to them, then they were directly accountable to God and no one else. They couldn’t say that they didn’t know or that they didn’t realize what was going on because God told them directly. They were basically trying to make Moses the scapegoat. “You go talk to God and then tell us what He said”.

Moses responds with something equally interesting. He tells them not to be afraid because God has come to test them so that they might fear Him and not sin. How can you not be afraid and still fear God? It’s really easy. To fear God means to respect Him. It means to understand that while He loves you and died for you, He’s still God. It means that His Word is the most important thing in your life. It means that you’ll obey it no matter what it means, because to disobey it would be grievous to you.

Did Israel fear God? At times they did. Did they respect God? At times they did. But much of the time they traveled to the Promised Land was spent griping and complaining about how much better it was in slavery than it was to be free.

Is it any different today? Do we act any differently than Israel did? We gripe and complain all the way through the journey from where we are to where we’re going and many of us do return to Egypt. We return to those things that held us captive because we’re comfortable there. We like it there. We’ll die there, but at least we’ll be comfortable.

We go to church and praise and worship, but is it glorifying God? Does it glorify God when we sing to Him about how much we love Him (often more like a boyfriend than our Lord) and then go out and sin like crazy? Does it glorify Him when we talk Christianese and shout things like “Glory to God” and “Praise Jesus” and then so twist His Word to suit ourselves that it looks nothing like what scripture actually says? We go to church and sit and listen attentively (most of the time) to the preacher, but then what? Many people don’t take their Bibles anymore and those that do often don’t follow along. We have our “Moses” and he (or she…) talks to God and then tells us what He said. Is that what God wants? Didn’t He do away with that when He rent the veil in the temple? Is that scriptural?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get together with other believers. The Bible says that you should. But what should be happening when you do get together? Should it be a lot of pomp and circumstance? Should it be a show that entertains people with video clips and “relevant issues”? Or, should it be a place where the Word of God is handled like it should be? As something more precious than all the gold and silver in the world. Where the truth is presented in purity without being made to “fit” into the lives of people in today’s society. Reading preachers of the past like Spurgeon, Wesley, and Mather, you see the reverence they had for the Word and for the God who wrote it.

Sadly, I don’t see that much at all today. Now, it’s all about being the biggest and the greatest.

What do you see?

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