“Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not” (Exodus 20:20).
“Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:33).
Moses said, in essence, “God isn’t mad at you. That’s not what this majestic experience is all about. No—He wants to empower you with His awesome fear. He is trying to build into you a powerful weapon and He’s doing it so that you can live victoriously all the days of your life.”
Then came some of the strangest logic in the Bible. These leaders said to Moses, “We have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” (Deuteronomy 5:24-26). They told Moses, “We know we can hear God speak out of the fire, and survive. Yet, if we have to sit under His direct, pure, holy voice, we will be consumed. Why should we die? Of all people in the world, we’re the ones who’ve heard God’s voice and lived.”
The Lord then gives us a clue about what was really happening: “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever” (verse 29).
They were giving God honor with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. To quote Isaiah, “This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but [they] have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).
The Israelites were so devoted to their little golden images that nothing could keep them from idolatrous worship. They finally even ignored the audible voice of God, in all its holiness and majesty.
When Israel’s elders said, “We need a softer message, otherwise we’ll die,” how right they were. Anytime you sit under Holy Ghost preaching—hearing God’s anointed, convicting word—you’re surely going to die. That is, you will die to your sins.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon