Oct 5, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
18 The people trembled with fear when they heard the thunder and the trumpet and saw the lightning and the smoke coming from the mountain. They stood a long way off 19 and said to Moses, "If you speak to us, we will listen. But don't let God speak to us, or we will die!"
20 "Don't be afraid!" Moses replied. "God has come only to test you, so that by obeying him you won't sin." 21 But when Moses went near the thick cloud where God was, the people stayed a long way off. (Exodus 20:18-20 CEV)
What is it about us? We mock God in so many ways, but when he shows up, we tremble with fear. It happened with Adam and Eve when they recognized their disobedience. The Israelites trembled at the foot of Mount Sinai, where God gave his direction for living in harmony. It happens today when he shows up in extraordinary ways.
God invited his people to witness the giving of the law, but they wanted to listen only to Moses' voice, not to the voice of God. "Let God speak to Moses and tell us what he said, but don't let us hear the voice of God, or we'll die!" How sad that we fail to accept God's invitation to come into his presence and learn at his feet.
Of course, when we do, we risk everything. We learn that we indeed live in sin. We discover our shortcomings and how far we fall from the perfection of a holy God. We find ourselves falling on our face as Isaiah or Peter or John and declaring our sin to him. The sin he already knows, but we see fully uncovered in the light of His holiness. But isn't that what we want? Shouldn't we prefer those faults exposed so God can take care of them instead of them dragging us down? Shouldn't our greatest desire be God's intervention in our lives to rid us of those things that oppose him so that we can stand blameless in his presence?
I sometimes think the Israelites failure to accept God's initial invitation to climb the mountain with Moses and find themselves from that point prohibited from even touching the mountain started their path to exile and destruction. I wonder what would have happened if they had gone up the trail and listen to God's instructions. I wonder how they would have reacted to his commands differently if, instead of listening to God's words through Moses, they heard those commands from God's voice.
Perhaps the thunderous voice, the fire, and smoke accompanying God's presence as he spoke might have made the impact necessary for them to follow his guidance. Perhaps, if the people experienced God's presence the way Moses did, they would recognize the incredible privilege of hearing him speak to them and the risk they took in not following him. Perhaps, the Israelites would have fulfilled their mission as God's light to the world and blessed the rest of the nations as he had desired from the beginning.
Then Jesus came and again invited us into his presence. After his resurrection, he appeared to many with the command repeated more often than any other throughout God's word, "Don't be afraid." He wants us to come near to him. He wants us to enjoy an intimate relationship with God. Jesus knows that entering the presence of God can cause fear when we recognize our sin, but he gave his life as the atonement for our sin. We do not need to fear his presence. He is a God of love and mercy, demonstrated through his actions as Messiah.
Our problem today, we fail to get close enough to God to see through the smoke and get past the thunderous voice and know the intimacy of the Father. We stand off at a distance, as did the Israelites, instead of drawing near to him. When we do, we find the gentle hand of a loving God, ready to save us from ourselves. We see him ready to help us in our time of need. We find the Abba, Father side of God, instead of the wrathful, lightning bolt side.
How do we come near to God today, though? We don't see the Old Testament's dramatic events in which he covered the mountain tops with thunder and fire. We don't see him in a pillar of cloud and fire, leading the way ahead. So how do we find him?
The answer lies in prayerfully reading his word. Let the words of the scripture, especially those of Jesus, show you who God is. The Old Testament points to the coming Messiah. The Gospels show Jesus fulfills that role. The Acts and the Epistles show what happens when people follow Jesus' teachings and let his spirit guide their lives. His word is fresh every day. He gives new insights to life and what he wants to do in and through you as you study and examine his word.
Then exercise just a modicum of faith in Jesus, believing him to be Messiah, God's Son, the one who gave himself for your sin. Ask him to forgive you for your disobedience toward him and ask him into your life. Allow him to be master of your life. Open your heart and mind to him, and he will direct you as you journey through life. He will let you know him. He will not be a stranger to you. But it does take that first step of faith believing he is who he says he is.
Awe replaces fear. A desire to know more of him grows in you. You begin to see others how God sees them for who they can become rather who they are now. Your love for others expands as you recognize God's love for you and them. You recognize the image of God in all humanity, not just in what used to be your favorite parts of the world. Jesus will lead you on the most exciting journey you can imagine.
So, what will it be? Stand in fear at the bottom of the mountain? Or join the crowds who have gone before you following the one who takes away all fear? It's your choice. He gives us the free will to make it. He's ready and willing to have you join his kingdom if you are willing.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked CEV are taken from the CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION (CEV): Scripture taken from the CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION copyright© 1995 by the American Bible Society. Used by permission.