When you imagine what it was like to have God’s voice thundering from the fiery mountain, what do you feel? Did you just read the words and not really put yourself in the moment as if you were there, too? I know I did when I read it the passage the first time. Take a moment and re-read the passage. The people were afraid. They wanted Moses to risk his life, so they’d be safe. Yet, they did said they’d obey God.
Sometimes it’s easy to let someone else take the heat in our place. Do you remember “drawing straws” to see who would have to do the dirty work? Most people tend to want to avoid confrontation. Sure, there are plenty of risk takers out there these days. But fear can paralyze us from taking action. These people in our reading today were clearly fearful for their lives. How cool was it that God spoke to all of them?
There are some interesting truths shared in today’s reading.
I’m sure I’m missing some of the intended meanings due to cultural differences
and such. What spoke to me most is the counsel on envy in verse 17, with the promise
in verse 18. “Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. You
will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed.”
How many times have you wished for something your neighbor
had? One of my childhood memories is longing for a horse of my own when the
neighbor girl across the street got hers. She would ride this majestic creature
from the pasture where she kept him into our suburban neighborhood. She would
brush him and give him a bath… right there in her driveway! Of course, I
would be glued to the window watching her every move, wondering when my day
would come to have a horse of my own. That is still a bucket list item for me –
to have a horse of my own.
I came across a great explanation of what it means to fear
the Lord by brother Jonathan Crosby. He says, “The fear of the LORD is belief
in the Creator God of the Bible with an awestruck consciousness of His glory
and greatness and a loving desire to obey all He requires to please and worship
Him and avoid disappointing Him in any way. It is like the humble adoration and
affection that good children give a loving yet authoritative father.”
Think of this as we unpack the verse for today, verse 23. It reads, “Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.” Unfortunately, this security does not mean we won’t encounter troubles and challenges in this life. The promise here is that when we fear the Lord, we have life with him forever. It is then that we are forever safe and secure, protected from harm.
Would you agree that most people would rather take the
shorter route to their destination? Or perhaps the fastest route would be
better? To say the least, we are a destination focused society. Think of these
examples. On vacation, you are heading somewhere. When reading a book, your
destination is the ending of the story. When in school, you are working toward
a degree or certification. Whatever the destination is, there is a journey to
What if the journey is more important than the destination? Are we spending too much time focused on outcome that we miss the beauty of the steps to get there? Think of all the people who want to be famous and receive recognition and honor. That is the destination they seek. Verse 33 would say, “Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” We must humble ourselves first. If our “destination” is fame and glory, we need to first step back, humble ourselves, and prepare our hearts for the honor. We need not discount the beautiful journey we will take to get there and be more focused on serving and blessing others.
Jesus continues to paint the picture
of what the disciples are going to find, witness, and experience on their
journey. If we listen as if these words of instruction are for us, what stands
out to you the most?
Were you confused and saddened by how families are portrayed? Did you recognize what it is like to be persecuted and have to flee? Did you appreciate the equality Jesus speaks of? The bottom line here is Jesus does not want us to be afraid of men. God sees all and nothing can be hidden. For those who stand firm to the end will be saved. There is a definite goal in store for staying the course.