Reading: Exodus 20: 18-20
Verse 18: When the people saw the thunder and lightning… they trembled in fear.
Moses has come full circle. It was on this mountain that God gave Moses his call to go to Pharaoh to free the Israelites. The Lord God had “heard their cries” and responded. The plagues in Egypt were powerful displays of God’s might, but they were directed at someone else. Since they have been freed, the Israelites have grumbled and complained, questioning both Moses and God all along the way. And now Moses calls them to this mountain. We hear the people’s reaction: “When the people saw the thunder and lightning… they trembled in fear”. This God who passed over their first born, who parted the sea, who brought quail and manna and water – now He looks a bit angry stop that mountain. They have grumbled and questioned all along. It is not surprising that they are afraid and want to keep their distance.
Moses calls the people to the mountain to hear a word from God. The people fear that they will die if God speaks directly to them, so they ask Moses to be the messenger. Really, they are asking Moses to once again stand between them and God. Through their fearful eyes all they can see is the smoke and thunder and lightning. To them, the desert and even this mountain are a vast wasteland. There is nothing there, yet they have survived. Over and over and over again God has provided and led and protected them. They have missed the lessons along the way: trust in God, keep the faith, live into being the chosen people, and, most importantly, God loves you. Lost in their fear and negative attitude, they cannot see God for who and what God is.
At times we walk this road too. We become so stuck in our situation or in the past that we cannot hear God’s word for us. The word may be grace or love or forgiveness or peace or strength or hope. Just as with the Israelites, though, God never gives up. God keeps on pursuing us no matter what. Thanks be to God for the endless pursuit of each of us, deeply rooted in His love. Thanks be to God.