Sunday, May 4

Relationships with a big, awe-inspiring God

At Quest last week, we continued looking at Moses. We skipped ahead to after he had gone Egypt and asked for Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. After God brought the 10 Plagues on Egypt. After Moses let the people out of Egypt. After God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on dry ground. After all of these things happened, God and Moses led the people of Israel to Mt. Sinai, where God provided the Ten Commandments and the other laws for Israel to follow. We looked at two related stories from Mt. Sinai.

The first one came after God provided the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:18-21 tells us that the people saw the lightning and thunder and smoke when God was talking to Moses and they were afraid. They told Moses “Speak to us yourself. Then we’ll listen. But don’t let God speak to us. If he does, we’ll die.” Moses responded by saying “Don’t be afraid. God has come to put you to the test. He wants you to have respect for him. That will keep you from sinning.” In spite of this, while Moses approached where God was, the people remained a long ways off.

The second story comes after Moses receives all of the laws from God. Exodus 34:29-35 tells us that when Moses would talk with God, his face would shine so that people would be afraid to come near him. Because of that, he would put a veil over his face, and he would keep the veil on until he went to talk to God again.

Here is some of what we talked about concerning these stories:

  • God can be kind of scary. He is big. He’s hard to understand at times. He’s powerful. He asks people to do things that seem impossible. Because of the, it is easy to understand where the Israelites were coming from and why they were afraid.
  • Having some level of fear of God is a good thing. As Moses points out, God wants us to respect him. Having some fear of and respect for him will help keep us from sinning. If we truly respect God, we won’t want to do things that hurt him or damage our relationship with him. Think about it this way. Typically, we try to avoid doing things that will hurt our friends or family members. This isn’t because there are rules that we need to follow. We do it because we don’t want to make the people we care about upset or do anything that would damage our relationship with them. Ideally, we shouldn’t avoid sin because sins are a violation of God’s rulebook. We should avoid sin because it damages our relationship with God. The more respect we have for God, the easier that is.
  • In spite of God’s awesome power and the fear it can create, God wants to have a one-on-one relationship with us. It is us, not God, who uses that to create separation between us. It is the people, not God, who say they can’t come close to God. Moses encourages them to come to God, but the people choose to stay away. Often, we do the same thing. We say “God is too big,” or “God is too powerful,” or “God is too scary,” and so we choose to stay away from him. In those times, we need to remember that we are the ones putting distance between us and God. He is still telling us to come close.
  • When we spend time with God, it makes a change in us that others can see. For Moses, spending time with God made his face glow. While we might not have exactly that result, there will still be things about us that others notice. When someone has good things going on in their life, particularly things involving God, they do have the ability to metaphorically light up a room when they walk into it. Everything seems brighter and happier when the walk in. Others might not understand exactly what the difference is or exactly what is causing it, but they will notice something about us if we are spending time with God.

Those are the highlights of our discussion about Moses. Next week, we are leaving the Old Testament. We are going to start a series of discussions about what Jesus says are the two greatest commandments.

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