And you said: ‘Surely the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives. Now therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? You go near and hear all that the Lord our God may say, and tell us all that the Lord our God says to you, and we will hear and do it. ’Deuteronomy 5:24-27 NKJV (c.f. Exodus 20:18,19)
I wonder if this is where we began to go wrong.
In this passage, Moses is reminding the Israelites of when they asked for a mediator between themselves and God.
There was no question of belief. The Israelites had seen God’s glory and greatness firsthand. They had even heard His voice. But they were afraid of Him. Not in a reverent sense, but rather they were afraid in the sense that they thought God would do them harm. The feared being in His presence.
And so they asked Moses to, ‘go near and hear all that the Lord our God may say, and tell us all that the Lord our God says to you, and we will hear and do it.’
Although God allows it at the time, and even says it is ‘good’, it was clearly not the relationship He desired to have with His chosen people.
It was always God’s intention that we should walk with Him. Personally. One on one. As Adam and Eve did in the garden.
But God has never been enough for us.
Rather than God, we wanted knowledge, then a man, then a king, and on it went… on it goes. We build cities, and walls, and all manner of distractions and denials to keep us from His consuming fire.
But His consuming fire is the one thing we truly need. The only thing that will truly save us.
God knows this, of course. When we read the Old Testament stories we shouldn’t be deceived into thinking any of it took God by surprise. Just as the chapters in our stories don’t take Him by surprise.
He gave man the knowledge he asked for; to know both good and evil. He gave the Israelites their man: Moses, and their king: Saul.
And all the while He knew that these things would not satisfy and those men would fail. The truth is: the spirit of man will never be satisfied until it is cleansed of sin and replaced with the Spirit of God.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Eze 35:25
God accomplished this through Jesus Christ.
“For Christ, also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18
His sacrifice makes it possible for us to receive this new spirit and new heart. To be cleansed.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17
God is calling you back to the garden. Back to a one-on-one relationship with Himself.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)
Take His hand. Open the door.
And be free to love again.