What is the grossest or scariest thing someone has ever tried to hand you? Some slimy unrecognizable trash picked up from the sidewalk? Maybe a giant hairy spider? Body of a recently road-killed skunk? Or a slithery snake?
Whatever tossed your way, I’m sure I can come close to guessing your reaction. Maybe your hands were reaching toward the unknown object; if they were, they didn’t stay there. Lightening fast you pulled your hands away; you stepped back (most likely more than one step), you gasped – or screamed, you may have shuddered, you probably yelled at the other person, and I’m sure I’ve missed a few things in my description.
Maybe I didn’t guess your reaction…but it was a strong one, or you’re not honest about what you find gross or scary.
I wanted you to recall your reaction so you can understand the Israelites response in this passage…God comes down to Mt Sinai in dark clouds, thunder and lightening…speaks to the Israelites, Moses goes up the mountain and receives the ten commandments, and this is the peoples’ reaction…
All the people, experiencing the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the smoking mountain, were afraid—they pulled back and stood at a distance. They said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we’ll listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die.” Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that you won’t sin.” The people kept their distance while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. (Exodus 20:18-21 – The Message)
They see the power and glory of God…and they step away. They wanted Moses to take care of the God stuff…they stepped away. Now, Sinai was sacred, and they had been told not to approach…and their reaction was most likely a mixture of fear/awe and fear/run away.
I think they found out God was bigger than what they wanted…more Holy than what they wanted to live up to. I base that on what happened about 40 days later. In Exodus 32 the people get restless. Moses has been up in the mountain for around 40 days…and the people begin to doubt God, even though they had seen Him cover Sinai with a cloud and lightning. And they asked Aaron to make a god for them…remember 40 days earlier He told them not to do such a thing. So, a god of their own making came to be…a golden calf. I believe it was because they stepped away.
Before we get all high and mighty about the Israelites…we step away too. We often put a distance between His glory and our lives. We frequently hold on to our lives (aka idols) and let others bring us the Word…and then filter out what is palatable to us. When God asks much of us, frequently we step away.
We may pray “your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”…but do we mean what we say. If His will means giving up something in order to serve…are we willing to do it? If His will means being different from the ‘crowd’ will we speak about our Savior? Or do we step away?
We all need to abide in His Glory. Join Him in His work. There may be ground we’re told not to trod on, but that is not a reason to step away from Him…it’s a call to abide in Him until we know the direction He would have us to go.
Yes, the title may have been a little click-baiting for some…that was intentional.
I used the Message because I liked the way it read for the passage. The Message is a good paraphrase to read, but it was never meant to be a study Bible.