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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The voice of God

“And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex. 20:19).

This was a famous turning point in the history of Israel. It was a time of great honesty, but also of great rejection of the Spirit of truth. Here is the context. (Please forgive me for the long quotations. It is prose and story, so they are quick reads.)

“In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.
For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.
And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto Him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself.
Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine:
And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.” (Ex. 19:1-8).

Did they really know what they were agreeing to? Did they read the fine print before signing their name on the dotted line? Did they really know their weaknesses? Did each know his true personal resources, and lack thereof? In forty days they would find out (i.e. Exodus 32).

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,
And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.
And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.
And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.
And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.” (Ex. 19:9-15).

In three days the children of Israel would meet the God with whom they had made a perpetual agreement. He and His terms would not be what they had ever conceptualized. His voice would send a message they never thought God should ever use with His privileged people. They saw a God who meant what He said and said what He meant. He was serious to the nth degree about their fidelity to Him and their total renunciation of everything pagan.

“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And … the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder....” (Ex. 19:16-19).

“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.
And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.
And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for Thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.
And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest He break forth upon them.
So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.
And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 19:19-20:3).

And the rest is history. The Ten Commandments issued from the mouth of Jesus, the Commander of heaven, “who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom. 9:5):

“THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.

THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IMAGE, OR ANY LIKENESS OF ANY THING THAT IS IN HEAVEN ABOVE, OR THAT IS IN THE EARTH BENEATH, OR THAT IS IN THE WATER UNDER THE EARTH:
THOU SHALT NOT BOW DOWN THYSELF TO THEM, NOR SERVE THEM: FOR I THE LORD THY GOD AM A JEALOUS GOD, VISITING THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHERS UPON THE CHILDREN UNTO THE THIRD AND FOURTH GENERATION OF THEM THAT HATE ME….

THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN; FOR THE LORD WILL NOT HOLD HIM GUILTLESS THAT TAKETH HIS NAME IN VAIN.

REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY, TO KEEP IT HOLY.
SIX DAYS SHALT THOU LABOUR, AND DO ALL THY WORK:
BUT THE SEVENTH DAY IS THE SABBATH OF THE LORD THY GOD: IN IT THOU SHALT NOT DO ANY WORK…

HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER.…

THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.

THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOUR.

THOU SHALT NOT COVET … ANY THING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOUR’S.” (EX. 20:3-17).

In between each commandment was a long pause so that His words could roll through the earth and roll around in their heads. And when the Lord finished the ten aspects of the base line of His covenant with them, their heads were spinning with the words that were still rolling around in them. Who is this that we’ve covenanted with? This isn’t the person we thought we were marrying! Uh oh!!! What have we done???!!! It was like Jacob waking up with a very pleased Leah, cuddled up next to him. This wasn’t the beautiful idolater Jacob had loved. This was her sister who had he loathed and constantly ignored. But, it was too late for the Israelites to undo the consummation. With the children of Jacob at the base of Sinai, they had just committed themselves to One with “no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isa. 53:2), who had been “despised and rejected and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isa. 53:3). Yet their loathing of God—and our loathing of Him—left Him “a [God] of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And 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. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex. 20:18-21).
The people didn’t want to die. Wasn’t this reasonable? Not at all.


“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Prov. 23:13,14). “He shall not die” but he will think he’ll die. The loving parent would never kill his child, but in love he will need to bring his child to believe that life is over. The child will need to see the utter hatred of the disobedience that his child involved himself with, but, all the while the parent must look for signs of sorrow and fear of rejection from his parent. And the death of self in the parent’s child will also create death in the loving parent.

The Israelites thought they were going to die, and that is exactly the response the Lord wanted them to have. “God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces” (vs. 20). The death of self was for their own good, “that ye sin not” (Ibid.). Without the loud voice forever rolling around in their heads they would eventually apostatize into Satan worship; and the God of love would have to destroy them.

“Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die…. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Eze. 18:4,32). “Eze 33:11  Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
” (). The Lord meant business. He was dead serious.

Moses had had to learn the truth about God. He had launched his own revival for his nation that was captive in Egypt. For 40 years he had to live with the memory that God was not with him, as he thought He was. During his whole stay in the wilderness the prince of Egypt was constantly reminded of his huge failure and of His God’s disappearance when he thought God would support his plan to deliver his people with their help. Moses lived in humiliation and shame and guilt, in self-reproach by his misrepresentation of the great God who he wanted to please, and in the reality that he was not a great leader, after all. After forty years Moses saw himself as nothing, a nobody, a worm. He had to bear the thought of multitudes who remembered his foolishness. Constantly plagued by embarrassment, he could not hope in God. Moses, “standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13). During forty years of regret he remembered what his mother had taught him about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, about Joseph and Judah and his father Levi, and of the Lord’s cooperation with their efforts.

“Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head….” (Ps. 22:4-7). “Poor vain fool! What was he thinking?! Ha! Some people’s children!! What an idiot!” “He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver him: let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him.” (Ps. 22:8).

Hounded by his egregious error, over and over again Moses remembered the scene and the words, “Behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?” (Ex. 2:13,14). Forty years of repenting finally boiled away all his pride. Now God could use Moses to lead a nation of proud, self-exalted, self-willed, self-indulgent people to pass through the same, harsh training, this time for all their pride to be boiled away, and to receive the heart and spirit that was blessing Moses. The Lord is a Man of war, for His children’s sake.

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.…
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.
For by Me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased” (Prov. 9:1,8-11).

What makes a wise man? Humility. He can be rebuked. He can be corrected without immediately throwing up a wall of self-preservation, a wall of scorn upon the truth and upon bearer of the correction. He will not be able to deny the truth about his weaknesses. He will bear up under the death of self. It might take years and even decades, but he will bend his will to fixing his personal lack of character. He will learn and be wiser. He is “a just man” (vs. 9); he has repented of his huge incongruity toward the way that life demands him to be. And the God of mercy always rewards the penitent soul with forgiveness and justification and the Spirit.

“God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal. 4:6). And “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom…. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:30,31). This was the experience of Moses, “Moses the servant of God” (Rev. 15:3). It was a battle of wills between his heavenly Parent’s will and Moses’. Moses conceded to Almighty God; and in the end, Moses was a very wise man.  But, what made him wise? The fruit of the Spirit of Christ in Moses’ character, the hope of glory.  “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:22-24). “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Num. 12:3). “Moreover the man Moses was very great … in the sight of the people.” (Ex. 11:3).

But, would the whole nation successfully endure the death to self that Moses had suffered during forty long years of repenting?

“These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and He added no more. And He wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire: 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?
Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.” (Deut. 5:22-27).

Did they listen to Moses? No. They would not. They said they would listen if someone spoke to them in less than the death booms of God’s voice. But, they detracted from that agreement constantly for the next 40 years.

“And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
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 for ever!
Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
But as for thee, stand thou here by Me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
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.” (Deut. 5:28-33).


Yet, though the nation rejected the fearful thunders in their consciences, the Lord would provide another voice to their untrained hearts and proud souls. He would give them a sanctuary system by which through visible objects and actions, they might gain the faculty of spiritual sight and hearing, and receive the susceptibility to holy things that the Lord needed them to have if they would remain His privileged people.

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