Words of Death and the Word of Life

Steven Rodriguez

Read: Exodus 20:18-21

Do not let God speak to us, or we will die. (v. 19 NRSV)

In our Scripture today, we come to the end of the story of the Ten Commandments. The Lord has just spoken ten “words” that sketch what life with God looks like, a life full of love, peace, and wholeness. Earlier, before the Israelites knew what they were getting into, they said rashly, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exod. 19:8). Now, after they actually hear the commandments of the Lord, they back away, trembling in fear. Words that were supposed to be words of life have become for them words of death.

It’s the same for us. When we compare God’s beautiful commandment purposes with our actual lives, we don’t measure up to God’s vision of human life. The contrast between us and God’s Law is sharp and bold. Thankfully, there’s good news. Even as the people move away from God in fear, Moses draws near to “the thick darkness where God was” (Exod. 20:21). Moses looks a lot like Jesus Christ here, standing as a mediator between God and the people. And Jesus, our new and better Moses, takes this even further. He enters into the thick darkness of the cross, and there he fulfills the Law, completely. He sets us free from the law of sin and death and invites us to follow him. Do not be afraid of the Law of God. In Jesus Christ, it has become beautiful words of life. —Steven Rodriguez

Prayer: “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it” (Ps. 119:35).