I cannot tell a lie. I was a little bamboozled by this chapter. I’m not sure what God wants the people to do, but one thing is for sure – they are trembling in the sight of his grand debut! God tells Moses that He is ready to show Himself to the Israelites, but as we can see in verse 16, the Israelites may not have been as ready to meet God face-to-face. The text that threw me for a loop today, though, is verse 23. My NLT version says, “‘But Lord,’ Moses protested, ‘the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai. You already warned us. You told me, “Mark off a boundary all around the mountain to set it apart as holy.”’” (I got to use triple quotes there! That’s a rare pleasure for a copywriter.) But in verse 13, the Lord clearly says, “… when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, then the people may go up on the mountain.” In verse 16, on the third day (don’tcha just LOVE the symbolism there?), clearly the ram’s horn blows, so why did Moses protest in verse 23, and why didn’t the people just go up the mountain when they heard the ram’s horn blow? I think the answer lies at the end of verse 16: “… and all the people trembled.” The reason they didn’t approach the mountain – and God – freely is because they were scared to death! I admit, I would have been too, and that would have been a situation like my mom always posed, “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?” In this case, ma, I’m following the crowd! This puts God in a bit of a predicament: He’s been so forceful and shown so much might that now He is having a tough time getting the Israelites to see his soft side. Seeing God in this light helps me realize just how much we are made in His image – how much we are REALLY like him, with all the feelz, all the struggles, all the difficulties of trying to make others understand us, love us and want a relationship with us. God gets just as frustrated as we do! And He gets just as frustrated with us as we sometimes can get with Him. (Let’s face it and be honest, sometimes we just don’t understand why He does stuff!) The good news is, He always understands why we do stuff, and even when we make really dumb decisions, He stands by us, gets us through and pursues us relentlessly, just like He pursued the Israelites on Mount Sinai.
Writing prompt: Bitter pursuit
Have you ever struggled with building trust in a relationship? I’m not saying God broke the Israelites’ trust, but I am saying that they’d seen A LOT and had reason to be terrified. Sometimes we wrong people unintentionally (or intentionally) and are left with a boatload of frustration, especially when that person won’t forgive us. Write about a relationship in which you struggle with trust and walk yourself through the steps that would be required to build that trust.