In Exodus, we see that under the leadership of Moses the people of God witness some incredible things. Each of which shows them that God is on their side and WANTING to rescue and nurture them.
- The plagues of Egypt. Miraculous disasters aimed at their enemies, which led to their freedom from slavery.
- The guidance of God by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.
- Protection from the armies of Pharaoh by fire and water.
- A miraculous escape route through the depths of the Red Sea, walking on dry land between walls of water.
- The utter defeat of the mightiest army in the world when Pharaoh and all of his chariots are overwhelmed by the Red Sea that opened to let the people escape.
- Food was given to them on a miraculous and massive scale. Manna and Quail.
- Water purified by a stick and, later, gushing from a rock.
- A pyrotechnic display on Mount Sinai that results in tablets of stone and the law of God.
God gives them event after event as evidence and help, amply showing His favor and grace for the tribes of Israel. God systematically removes the limitations that stand between the people of Israel and the presence of God. He leads them to a place where their sin is no longer a barrier and they can hear his voice… and what happens?
“They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Exodus 20:18-19)
The people believe a lie. “Do not have God speak to us or we will die”. After all of the evidence that they have witnessed, they seem to believe that God has literally moved heaven and earth so that they can be destroyed.
Even though Moses has told them that, by the commandments of God, the people can be enabled to draw close to God, they simply will not step out in faith and into God’s presence.
“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning” (Exodus 20:20)
Moses assures the people that they have no need to be afraid. God has turned up, in person, to instigate a relationship with them. He tells them that their sin ordinarily makes it impossible for them to know God’s presence, so God has offered them a way to get past their sin and know Him. By the law, God is opening the door to His presence and their faith is under test… but still they keep their distance.
“The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21)
As I read this passage I am struck by the simple matter that the people’s fear is what stops them from knowing the presence of God. It is not their faith.
They believe that God is God and that Moses is His man. That the words of Moses are trustworthy and that they need to follow them, yet, they pass the opportunity to hear the voice of god for themselves because they a fearful. It is, after all, a very dark cloud!
I wonder how many of us have passed up the possibility of drawing closer to God for fear of what might happen?
Here is a question – Does God love us?
For me, the answer is a resounding “YES!” and yet I find that I quiver in fear in case I fail time and again. God is my Father and He loves me. First, he would not set me up for failure. Second, even if I did fail, he would not let me hurt myself or His plan.
I guess I am wondering around in order to ask a simple question of myself and others. Do I believe the voice of my fear MORE than I believe the Word or God? We do what we believe… what does my action say about what I believe?
More cogitation needed, I feel. Any thoughts would be appreciated…