"When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die." Exodus 20:18-19
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.
Thursday: God at Mt. Sinai
Bible Reading: Exodus 19:1-20:20
Jesse Tree Symbol: Ten Commandments (go to Jesse Tree ornaments 2 and look for Ten Commandments)
Today, do we really understand the fear of the Lord? Do our children? God is God...the creator of the Universe, our creator. He is holy, awesome, mighty, without equal and He is to be feared.
Often times, when I have read about the "fear of the Lord" to my children, I have explained it as "great respect." But, if you read through the Word, the fear of God by those who encounter Him in the Old Testament is true fear.
"Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the Lord said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them." Exodus 19:17-22
There was great fear at the thought of meeting God at Mount Sinai or anytime He appeared. Even the appearance of angels struck fear in the hearts of humans who saw them. Almost every time a person saw an angel, they fell back in fear and the angel's first words were always: "Do not fear."
I believe C. S. Lewis, in his timeless tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, portrays this fear of God well in his portrayal of Christ as Aslan, the great lion. Aslan is the King of the Beasts, and the real ruler of Narnia. When the children, Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy, are talking to Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, trying to find out information about the land of Narnia which they have stumbled upon, Susan asks the beavers, "Is he (Aslan) safe?"
Mrs. Beaver says, "If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly."
Lucy asks, "Then he isn’t safe?"
And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: "’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you."
Yet, this great and powerful and mighty God, a God to be feared and greatly respected, who deserves all the praise, worship and honor of all people throughout all time, shed His awesome appearance, His commanding presence, and came to earth as the most helpless of all God's creation - a tiny baby.
When Jesus walked the earth, He showed us the tenderness and gentleness of God. He did not thunder from a mountain and reign down awesome and terrible judgment on those who were doing wrong...as many of the religious leaders and some of His own followers asked Him to. Instead, He reached out and touched the leper and the prostitute, He asked for the little children to be brought to Him, He cared about lack of wine at a wedding and hungry people on a hillside. His loving touched raised a daughter and a son to life and ultimately, His willingness to shed all His majesty and royalty and die on a torturous cross, raised each of us from death to life.
Yes, God is not safe. He is to be feared. But He is oh so good.
"You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear." But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Hebrew 12:18-24
The above commentary on Exodus is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree
When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to.
Two great websites to help you do this are:
Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog.