Engage the Word: Again with the Fear Not…
Engage the Word is a 40 Day journey through key highlights of the Bible. Sign up at www.discovernewhope.org by clicking on the picture of the Bible.
Pray. Read. Reflect. Respond.
Well the people have made their escape from Egypt and seen God work in powerful ways to deliver them. Now they find themselves at the foot of a majestic mountain needing to hear from God. Have you ever gone to God for guidance? Sometimes it’s our last resort. We’ve tried everything else we can think of…maybe God can help. But we’re hoping for a tame sort of gentle help that will fit nicely into our current schedule. But when you ask God to show up, he really does. On this occasion he definitely showed up.
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud appeared on the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast was heard.” (Exodus 19:16)
The LORD knows how to make an entrance, eh? He doesn’t do this very often, but he’s pretty good at it. And human beings are pretty good at freaking out. “…All the people in camp trembled with fear…they said to Moses “you speak to us, we will listen; but we are afraid if God speaks to us, we will die.” When God shows up, really shows up, he doesn’t really fit into our program. But that’s a good thing. If our expectations are aimed at taming God for our own comfort we have a choice to make. Fear and pull back from God, or respect God reverently and draw near, rebuilding our expectations based on a new reality. When God shows up in thunderous ways it’s for a purpose: to get our attention and refocus our vision for life. “Don’t be afraid; God has only come to test you and make you keep on obeying him, so that you will not sin.” He wants a holy respect that keeps us accountable. Why do we resist this? It works well. We let God be God. We know our place: his obedient people. He provides for our needs and shoulders our battles and burdens. We receive his blessings as we trust and obey. He gives us direction and mission in life. We make his mission our mission and find purpose in every moment. It’s not a bad deal. Best of all, it’s what he created us to experience so it just feels right when we just let it happen. Peace and fulfillment. Good stuff. But the people didn’t exactly choose that…they want a go-between. Preferably one that will negotiate a discount. “…the people continued to stand a long way off, and only Moses went near the dark cloud where God was.” Moses again said, “Don’t be afraid.” He’s a good leader. They want a priest who gets peace for them. God wants them to be a kingdom of priests who bless the world.
So what kind of people will we be? Ones who look to God and respectfully draw near; receiving his blessings and taking on his mission? Or, those who remain fearful instead of moving on to faithful? For the wandering Israelites the results are tragic. A whole generation misses out on the biggest blessings God had in mind. And so the same opportunity bounces to you and me: the chance to fear not, draw near, and receive all that God has for us. It’s time to respond…