Did God Really Say…?

January 7, 2012

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.


  • http://excelinchrist.us Arthur G

    Thanks Bob for this post. It reminds me that God really wants to be our friends and have an intimate relationship with us. It’s funny how Moses delivered the message and how the recipients of the message responded to his interpretation of God’s word to His people. I wonder how things would have played out should Moses conveyed God’s message as given in Ex 19:9.

  • Paul

    This insight into the knowledge of good and evil has been a blessing to my life and also very humbling, when we are willing to be honest and look at what we believe about the word of God and God himself compared to what He really says there can be some moments of uncomfortable wrestling and reasoning. I find the word “but” happening in many conversations with Father and In His loving way he finds the ability to take butt and get it in line with His great grace and love.
    Thanks for all you do.
    Paul.

  • http://www.HerdWise.net Kathy

    Bob, your Tree stuff is awesome. I love it. It has really helped set me free. I get to talk about it our church in a few weeks. Can’t wait!
    Here’s my question–If the Bible is God-inspired (which I believe that it is), is God acting more as a reporter here–recording events? IOW, Moses is just telling us what he said, right.
    Re: the word Fear. I’m not a personal fan of that word -esp. when talking about God, so why is it used so much in the Bible? I’ve heard that it’s a replacement for ‘respect’ but then why not use that word? Guess I should ask God that one, huh? :)

  • http://www.mentorsofministry.com Sandy Ohlman

    Amen! Thanks Bob for continually listening and doing the work to write it and provoke us to listen to His voice.
    It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance… eagerly listen for that sweet, still, small voice… believing for awesome transformation in my heart, my house… and His house!
    Sandy

  • http://imnobetterthanu.blogspot.com Jeremy Martin

    The perspective you bring to events in Biblical times is so eye opening! Truly a gift ftom God. Thank you for being a vessel.

  • Marla Imhoff

    I am so glad that I viewed your blog today…”a word aptly spoken”…for all of us.

  • Wendy Hardin

    SUPER message! What I love about this truth is that right now we don’t need a MOSES to interpret/or misinterpret…but somehow as we are so much like sheep (how many times did Jesus call us that?) we STILL seek a leader to interpret/misinterpret and tell us the truth according to their human perspective. The mana is here…it’s the Holy Spirit. He is our truth, because of JESUS’ sacrifice! WOW. One of your best blogs. Detailed, concise, and revolutionary point often-ignored from this passage! Thanks Pastor Bob!

  • Beth J

    Bob, your blog reminds me of the issues around rules…rules which in our society is usually associated with authority and discipline – often driven by fear. The book “Grace-based Parenting” allowed a revelation for me some 6 or 7 years ago. “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion” which proved to be very true in my life with God and my parents. Since, I have also added another statement on my own: “Relationship without rules leads to chaos.” Reciprocity exists here between rules and relationship. Seems like you have hit upon a very valid point here – Moses filtered the message so that fear was to be the driving force in obedience to the rules and not a relationship directly with God. Love your insights!

  • Cindy Snyder

    A few weeks ago, after Alan’s book, Unveiled, came out, I was thinking… what next? what is the next step God? The thought that followed was, “Listen differently” I think you are onto something in this post. I want to encourage you to listen differently right now, not to the words of man, but to the heart of God.

  • 4theLamb

    Jesus said “My sheep know My voice, and follow,” It seems the people were hard hearted and didn’t want to hear his voice.

  • http://www.freshavocados.wordpress.com Sarah Dicus

    This is why you are my favorate Bob! This was fantastic, thank you.

  • http://about.me/JLLouthan Joseph Louthan

    We, as humankind, are the lawkeepers.

    Unfortunately, we tend to stumble as keepers of the law—not only in keeping it but proclaiming the law as well.

    Received the law: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

    Misinterpreting the law: “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”” (Genesis 3:2-3 ESV)

    It’s a wonder that Martin Luther is quoted in saying, “Religion is the default mode of the human heart.” (Keller, Prodigal God). In other words, our hearts are by default to add laws on laws in thinking that more laws and more knowledge will protect us from sin and the effects of sin or worse still, the thought that keeping the law might save us.

    Yet, the law was never meant to save us. Instead, the law (which is holy, and the commandments are holy and righteous and good. – Romans 7:12) was to point back to the only one who can save us: Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Thank you, Bob, for this.

  • Josiah C

    C’mon, we gotta give Moses a little slack here… He might have been hoping he was wearing his brown pants when God showed up. I myself have to fight off the shake-voice when I’m presenting at work and the CEO decides to “pop-in” to see how things are going ;)
    Love the post, incredible reminder that our primary source should be the Son, the Tree of Life.