Deuteronomy 5 Moses called all the people of Israel together and said, “Listen carefully, Israel. Hear the decrees and regulations I am giving you today, so you may learn them and obey them! “The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Mount Sinai. The LORD did not make this covenant with our ancestors, but with all of us who are alive today. At the mountain the LORD spoke to you face to face from the heart of the fire. I stood as an intermediary between you and the LORD, for you were afraid of the fire and did not want to approach the mountain. He spoke to me, and I passed his words on to you… “The LORD spoke these words to all of you assembled there at the foot of the mountain. He spoke with a loud voice from the heart of the fire, surrounded by clouds and deep darkness… They said, ‘Look, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen that God can speak to us humans, and yet we live! But now, why should we risk death again? If the LORD our God speaks to us again, we will certainly die and be consumed by this awesome fire. Can any living thing hear the voice of the living God from the heart of the fire as we did and yet survive? Go yourself and listen to what the LORD our God says. Then come and tell us everything he tells you, and we will listen and obey.’… So Moses told the people, “You must be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, following his instructions in every detail. Stay on the path that the LORD your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.
A rehash of Exodus 20 made me wonder if I should actually skip this chapter altogether because I wondered what we could draw from a passage we already studied not too long ago. What is Jesus speaking to us through this passage?
While we might like to think of progress as simply improving ourselves and making life better, we need to remember that the only way to measure improvement is to have something to measure it against and in this case, it is the past. This is why God reminds the Israelites of their past so that they live a better present and have hope for the future.
Through Moses, God reminds the Israelites of His commandments He gave them to keep for all generations. These were the same commandments he gave at Mount Horeb and the refresher was important for them as it is for us. It is a vital reminder to us that we can never know God enough and therefore live in our own strength but we need to constantly draw from God and refresh our understanding of His words and direction.
When we read the Israelites response to Moses in verse 23, it seems odd that they would want to avoid God's presence and would rather hear through Moses what God wants to speak to them. The reason for this is sin and this is the reason any non-believer fears going before God. God is holy and we cannot stand before the righteousness of God because we feel unclean and unworthy before Him. Being in His presence is akin to being in the presence of a judge who at a moment's notice can condemn us for breaking the law and being unworthy.
The only saving grace is the blood of God's only son, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice, when accepted as atonement for our sins (past, present and future), permits us access to God's presence. Until Jesus came and died for us sinners, our access to God was through the filter of the law and living up to its standards was impossible. However, it was the only way for anyone to come before the righteousness of God and not be destroyed. An impossibly high standard it was but one that was laid out for those of us who wanted to work out their salvation!
Moses was to the Israelites what Jesus is to us today. He was limited in his abilities and calling but served as a representative of God. His limitation was shown when God refused him entry into the promised land for his sinfulness but his calling was revealed when the Israelites confessed (verse 26) 'what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire… and survived'.
Jesus Christ lived a righteous life that has never been matched, fulfilled the laws without an error, walked in God's leading every moment of His life and even obeyed God's calls for His death so that you and I may live. His death and sacrifice was desperately needed for our salvation and future and therefore, like Moses, Jesus now lives to bridge the gap between us and God the Father. In Him and through Him, we have unbounded access to God and are called co-heirs to the heavenly kingdom.
Are you willing to let go of the little you have for the much He offers or is this life and its limited usefulness the only assurance you are willing to live by? God calls you and I alike to His throne of grace through His son Jesus Christ and our response is key to move forward or back.
In His Loving Service,