How did we get in this mess? If you have read through any of my past posts you have heard my thoughts on the fall of man, and living from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Don’t Have The Sense I was Born With, That Tree Will Kill You) But lately I have been examining how this switch has influenced leadership in the church and how men try to help others relate to God. In the process I stumbled across an interesting moment in history.
In Exodus 19, we see an invitation from God, through Moses for the nation of Israel to come participate in a conversation between Moses and God. I have heard many people teach on this moment as the time when people began to look to a man instead of God. Certainly I think this is valid, and a significant shift in how people, especially God’s people related to God, and received His word. But were the Israelites the only ones who contributed to this mess? It appears to me that Moses also played into the trap. Watch the dialogue unfold:
9 The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. Exodus 19: 9
In essence God offered a solution and a sweet invitation. He told Moses that if the people hear God speak, they will believe and reap the benefit of believing. It would seem that Faith has always come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. That as compared to the word of man.
Simple. People will hear, the natural result is that they will believe. All is well. Until Moses interprets. Read again.
18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. Exodus 20:18-21
Listen to what Moses said. “God is putting you on the spot, so that you will be afraid of Him, because if you are afraid you won’t screw up.”
The problem is that this is a “Knowledge of Good and Evil” interpretation of what God really said. It is not simply problematic that we get our words from men. It is problematic that men cannot help but filter through their own knowledge of Good and Evil.
God: “Tell them if they hear, they will believe and be safe.”
Moses: “Hey guys, God said He wants you to hear us talk, so you will be afraid, so that you won’t screw up.”
It’s no wonder the Israelites stayed put.
The fear of punishment will not move people toward the kind of truth that sets them free.