God had been good to the Israelites. He had freed them from slavery – keeping them from suffering as the plagues afflicted the Egyptians. He had delivered them from Pharaoh’s armies. He had parted the Red Sea so they could walk on dry ground through it. He had rained down manna from the sky and brought water out of a rock. He had fulfilled His promise to Jacob and was leading the people to their Promised Land. Now was the time for Him to meet with them in a spectacular way and tell them how He wanted them to live.
We think of Moses receiving the commandments up on Mount Sinai and bringing them down to share, but, if we read the end of Exodus 19 and the beginning of 20, we can see Moses was with the people and God is speaking to them all. His Presence caused the earth to tremble, caused lightning and thunder and the people were rightly afraid – they ought to have been in awe of the Eternal God who had rescued them and called them as His own. Their response was not what it might have been.
Israelites(to Moses):19 We are afraid to have God speak directly to us; we are certain that we will die. You speak to us instead; we promise to listen.
It’s tragic. God was seeking to be in a relationship with them. He is about to describe a structure for them to build where He would be able to dwell among them. Yes, He is mighty and magnificent, causing awe and trembling in those who meet with Him but He had demonstrated His loving kindness and concern for them in the most practical of ways. But the people were too afraid and wanted someone to act as a ‘buffer’ between them.
I said it was tragic, and it was. But sometimes we look for that ‘buffer’ too. We prefer to have God filtered to us by other people, by books and commentaries, by videos and audiotapes. Those are all good things to use but God still wants that one-on-one personal relationship with us where we hear His voice directly.
In church, over the last few weeks, I’ve heard about developing my prayer life. One characteristic of this is an increased intimacy with God. Intimacy isn’t third hand. Intimacy is face-to-face between two people. I also heard about meditating on the Word of God, knowing it, turning it over, chewing on it so that it can be alive, active, life-changing. Again, this is most effective when it is an intimate, personal thing. It will have repercussions externally affecting my attitudes, actions and lifestyle but at its root, it is always me and the Word alone together. Sermons, bible notes, words from others can point and direct me but the life-changing happens when it’s me and God one-on-one.
The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. Imagine living in a house where you rarely speak directly with the other person… it’d be very odd. His purpose is to draw us closer to Jesus. He wants to remind us we can come boldly before the Throne of Grace. God is still awe-inspiring but because of Jesus we can be intimately connected to Him talking to, listening to and learning from Him.
So what are we waiting for?