We read today in great detail of the arrival of the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai on “the third new moon” [Exod. 19 v.1]. For the great mass of people with their flocks and herds, it had been a testing journey from Egypt; there had been many faith testing experiences along the way. Now they are “encamped before the mountain” [v.2] and the “LORD called to” Moses and tells him to remind them of all their experiences. “Thus you shall … tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” [v.3,4]
And today, we have God’s word, if we will regularly and diligently read it, to bring into our minds all that God has done in the past and promises to do in the future. We must read it – so that our awareness of God’s past actions. words and promises become ‘heart felt’ – and not just head knowledge. Those who commit their lives to God, find their relationship with him keeps growing – we realize we are in a two-way relationship – as Israel had to realize. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” [63 v.9]
We also read today in Exodus 20 details of the giving of the 10 commandments: these were accompanied by “thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled” [v.18] “ Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” [v.20] but “the people stood far off …” [v.21] How close are we to God? Do we feel inclined to stand “far off”? Perhaps not – but, are we finding getting really ‘close’ not at all comfortable?
If we read God’s word diligently we will see many examples of this testing; our convictions of belief should be increasingly seen by the things we give priority to each day. When we spend much of our time and money mingling with the world, our God is “jealous.” We must never forget we “were bought with a price” [1 Cor. 6 v.20; 7 v.23].
There is a sense in which we no longer belong to ourselves! We had been, in a sense, in slavery to the world, it surrounded us; physically it still does and it threatens to suffocate us! How joyful were the Israelites – at first – in their deliverance, what a sense of freedom they must have felt; and surely we were joyful when we first accepted Christ as our deliverer from the world around us – the sense of purpose in our lives – the optimism for the future! Have those feelings faded?
How inspiring are the words in today’s Psalm 73, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart … for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge” [v.26,28] Our reading and meditation of God’s word is an essential part in maintaining that “strength” – then when events “test you” you have the strength to endure and find “refuge” – and – indeed, you then feel even stronger!