God at Arm’s Length

Message/Application: In Exodus 20 Moses gave the people the ten commandments. They had been required to consecrate themselves and stand close enough to see and hear God in the thunder, lightning and smoke, but they were warned not to touch the boundaries or they would die. The people did not like hearing the voice of God in the thunder. They trembled, stood back a distance and told Moses “you speak to us and we will listen but don’t let God speak to us or we will die.” Reading this stopped me for a few minutes as I realized what a very real pattern this has become for mankind. By nature, people want to be received and accepted by God, but don’t want to get in close with God. They want to stay back a good distance, keep God at arm’s length and manage a set of rules. This is why we have so much religion but aren’t any better for it! Getting close is scary. It exposes things in us that we don’t want to see and certainly don’t want to touch. We’re afraid that if we get in too close that God is going to call out certain things that we’re not ready for him to call out. The short distance gives us the impression that we’re safe from being rejected, but not so close that we’ll be exposed. The rules give us the feeling that we’re being obedient without having to let God expose the root of our hearts. Our minds think “we’ll listen to the pastor, but don’t let God speak to us or our flesh will die!

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