“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.'”-Exodus 19:9
On the third day after the people purified themselves, we are told there was a huge crescendo of thunder and lightning combined with the shrill, piercing sound of a tremendous shofar blast.
The stage was now being set for one of the most intense and unforgettable moments in the history of mankind, if not the history of the universe.
YHVH Himself, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, was going to speak to Moses in a voice that would be audible for all the people to hear.
The whole nation of Israel was going to hear the voice of God.
There is an important reason why the Torah was given in the desert, publicly and openly, in a place belonging to no one.
The principle that ALL people are to have equal access to God’s Word or God’s Voice is established here.
The giving of God’s Word is NOT to be restricted to a special group or class of people.
One interesting question sometimes raised is why was the Torah NOT given in the the Land of Israel, the Promised Land?
There are two reasons.
First, one MIDRASH I read said this was so the nations of the world would not have an excuse and say: “Because it was given in Israel’s land, therefore we did not accept it”.
I would agree with this MIDRASH.
God’s Word IS for the nations, for everybody.
Second, another reason why the Torah was given in the desert was to avoid causing dissension among the tribes.
Or else the tribe in whose territory the Torah was given would become haughty and claim “In our territory the Torah was given” and thus arrogantly lord this fact over the other tribes.
Ironically, I find it sad that the Bible, the very Word of God, that is supposed to bring people together, is used as a tool to do the opposite.
Look at all of the countless Christian denominations and cults like Mormonism and the the Moonies, and even extremist fringe groups like the Ku Klux Clan who all use the Scriptures to create dissension and justify their supposed superiority over other groups.
The takeaway I feel the Lord placing on my heart from today’s post is this.
Here and in the next chapter, we are going to witness the Lord addressing Israel in His own voice.
The Lord is going to give Israel His Law and ask if they will accept and obey it.
Israel will respond positively.
Yet a short while later, we are going to see Israel fall into gross idolatrous sin (the golden calf incident is right around the corner folks).
When we see this happen, I think many of us will have a tendency to adopt a condescending and judgmental attitude towards Israel.
We will say to ourselves, if I was one of those who had been standing at Mount Sinai and actually heard the AUDIBLE VOICE OF GOD, there is no way in hell I would have sinned like those Israelites did.
To that notion, I say HOGWASH!
Because the truth is, even though we may not have had the great privilege of being there at Mount Sinai to hear God’s audible voice, He has communicated to us to in so many other clear ways.
And yet we still sin.
Folks, this portion of Exodus we are reading and the rest of the Bible is not only accurate history but also a very accurate portrayal of the good and bad and ups and downs of the human condition.
In fact, it is this very blunt honesty and accuracy in how the Scriptures portray its characters that separates it from other forms of ancient literature.
The Bible is like a powerful magnifying glass that shows us warts and all how we all act when we are stressed out, bored, or feeling frustrated.
Instead of taking a judgmental attitude towards the Israelites and arrogantly saying, “If it was me, I wouldn’t have done that”.
I think it would be better to humble ourselves and realize that the slippery slope tendency to commit wickedness that lies in all of our hearts is so great, that even we, after directly hearing God’s voice could fall.
And the truth is, though it may not have been an audible voice, God has spoken and continues to speak to us all.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN EXODUS CHAPTER 20