Don’t Run Away From God

“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’ ” Exodus 20:18-19

The children of Israel were interested in being freed from slavery. They were interested in being protected from their enemies. They were interested in the assurance that their food and water were being provided for them. They were interested in many things but they weren’t interested in being close to God and hearing his voice.

Quite frankly, God’s presence and his voice scared them to the depths of their beings.

God’s powerful. God’s righteous and holy. God’s unpredictable to the human way of thinking.

I can understand why Israel would have been afraid. If I’d been drawn into the same situation I can imagine that I might have experienced a significant amount of fear as well. And in fact that may have been exactly what God wanted.

You see one of the first things God has to overcome when we enter into a relationship with him is the way we think about him and what we think it means to have a relationship with him.

The gods of the Egyptians, with whom most of the Israelites had much more experience, were not real gods at all. They were make believe, fairy tale creations at best and demonically reinforced superstitions at worst. In either case, any experience these false gods gave to the children of Israel, when it came to entering into a covenant with God and truly participating in worship, was of no help whatsoever.

Our focus text tells us that the people “stood afar off” when they heard God’s voice and witnessed all the signs that accompanied his presence. Earlier in chapter twenty we’re told that Moses had led the people to the base of the mountain and now we find that the people have retreated.

God’s made several things clear to them and they’re things that they need to clearly understand if they’re going to truly be his people; He’s real, He’s mighty, He’s holy, and He’s here.

Moses endeavors to reassure the people without undoing any progress God may have made, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”

If we’re going to be righteous before God we need to learn to take him seriously. He’s God. Perhaps we, like Israel, are just beginning to learn what that means. We need to be like Moses and stay close to God and learn from God’s closeness and not be like the children of Israel who ran away.

1 thought on “Don’t Run Away From God”

  1. Interesting perspective, Pastor!

    Maybe having known little about God growing up as a Catholic, I always took Him seriously. I liked God; church, even if it was in Latin; and Catholic school!
    I was so zealous about saving Pagan babies, I stole money out of my mother’s purse to get a certificate of a Pagan baby that was saved because of my donation. That was the only time I stole in my youth and I did tell my mother later.

    Each year we always celebrated Christmas and the idea of baby Jesus was a beautiful story, but my favorite stories were the crucifixion and Easter. We would spend 3 hours on Good Friday in church, going from station of the cross to the next of 12 stations. I studied each work of art carefully, pondering what they meant. It was obvious the crucifixion was a serious event, although I had little understanding. And then EASTER!! OH my! Jesus rose from the dead! What could possibly be happier! But I wondered, how could that be? What did it mean! I pondered these events with little understanding but I knew God had to be a serious God to let these things happen.

    Then as a teenager, I started attending the Catholic folk masses which I really enjoyed. I went to all kinds of churches looking for some meaning about God. Jesus Freak meetings introduced me to scripture songs and the first one was, “I am the resurrection and the life….” There it was! The resurrection. EASTER!
    I was hooked on scripture songs from that day. But soon after, bad things happened in my life and I turned my back on God. I stopped going to church. Any church. I stopped going to any God related meetings. In time, I started Transcendental Meditation and for two years saw no results so I stopped. Then I had little to depend on. Just nature and friends. I had been mostly estranged from family because we didn’t ever have “family”.

    Fast forward a few years and life had become extremely difficult until I was alone one day, at age 24, driving in my car, listening to the radio, and heard a religious talk show. They mentioned, ” Talk to Jesus, He’s Your Friend”. I had never heard such an idea! It intrigued me.
    Just previously, I had been thinking, I am an unwed, working mother. All alone. I didn’t know how to confide in anyone. I need help. I don’t know how I can make it through life. If there is a God, I need Him and I need to know about Him. And that day, when I heard the talk show, I remembered the baby Jesus, the crucified Jesus, and the resurrected Jesus I once knew, and I let God back into my heart. I’ve had a lot to learn about God, and I am still learning, but from that day it’s always been serious. Just like when I was young. And for the last 37 years, God is still the most important person in my life.
    Thank you so much for this post!

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