Read: Exodus 20:18-21
The people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (vv. 18-19)
The Israelites stand at the foot of a mountain. It belches fire and smoke, shaking with thunder and trumpet blasts. God is concerned they will get too close and die (19:12, 21, 24), but that is not the issue. Incredibly, they shrink back instead, terrified of the same God who delivers from slavery, scatters food from heaven, and provides protection. They plead for someone else to listen to God’s voice, and even sadder, by chapter 32, they declare independence, seeking a different God—and a different leader—somebody they can control.
I can’t get this story out of my mind; I turn it over and over, my thoughts tumbling and troubling. Israel’s choices echo through history into my life. Will I dare draw near to this extraordinary God? Will I put myself in a position to listen, and let God speak? Will I come near, learning to depend on a God who says he will come near to me (James 4:8); or will I assert independence and miss his presence?
The writer of Hebrews says God’s soul takes no pleasure in one who shrinks back (Heb. 10:38). That means that when we draw near to him by faith, we bring pleasure, perhaps joy, to the very soul of God. I want to declare my ordinary dependence; to stop, listen, and draw near myself. —Amy Clemens
As you pray, draw near to God through Christ. Pursue him as he has pursued you.