Take It With You 10.24.2021
This story is dangerous. If you read it in too narrow a way, out of context of all the other events with Moses, Aaron, the Israelites and Egyptians and God, it really makes God seem petty and nit-picky. Moses didn’t follow God’s instructions to the letter, so he was punished in what seems like a fairly harsh way. It seems as though the take-away for us is that we had better do what God says or else. What? You can’t audibly hear the voice of God, giving you detailed instructions for every step of your life? Well, then you must not have a deep enough faith, a strong enough relationship with God; otherwise, you would know exactly what God wants and expects you to do. Please sense the sarcasm in those statements in italics; that is not at all what I mean. But that mindset is part of what is dangerous about this story, if we’re not careful.
I have a news flash: you are not Moses. I am not Moses. Moses was a prophet whom God set apart for a very specific assignment: to lead His chosen people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. Over the many years since God called Moses from the burning bush, God had spoken directly to Moses in unique and specific ways, with specific instructions and laws and assurances of God’s provision for Moses and the Israelites. The instance in today’s passage was not a unique occurrence; it was not a still, small voice that Moses could have mistaken for something else. It was a clear, specific instruction from which Moses proceeded to deviate. This is a story of Moses’ lack of faith and trust in God, his tendency to center himself and not simply point to God’s faithful provision. It’s a story we can learn from, but if we’re not careful and don’t consider the full context of the events in the story, it is easy to wind up being scared of God; not holy fear, but paralyzing fear that leaves us scared to mess up, rather than emboldened with the power of God at work in our lives.
Yes, God has a plan and purpose for each of us. Yes, we need to trust God. Yes, we need to cultivate a relationship in which we can discern God’s voice and direction through prayer and meditation on His word. But we do not need to cower beneath a punitive God who is just waiting for us to put a toe out of line so that He can smite us. God is our good, good Father, who wants our obedience and trust, yes, but who also wants us to have an abundant life, lived in relationship with Him.
~ Katie Herring