Deuteronomy 5:22a (NLT) “The LORD spoke these words to all of you assembled there at the foot of the mountain. He spoke with a loud voice from the heart of the fire, surrounded by clouds and deep darkness.
While all this was happening, the Israelites stood frozen with fear. They were convinced they would die before the voice of the Lord stopped speaking. Finally, the voice stilled; the lightning stopped; the quaking ended; and before long, the sun began to shine. As the people looked around, they saw everyone was still alive. They had heard the actual, audible voice of God and lived!
Evidently, as soon as this incredible manifestation ended, Israel’s elders and tribal heads called a meeting. You would expect this to be the greatest praise meeting in the history of humankind. Yet this meeting was not one of praise; not at all. Incredibly, the elders told Moses, “We can’t handle this kind of experience. We don’t want to hear God’s awesome voice anymore. If He speaks to us this way again, we’ll die. From now on, we want to hear His words through a man’s voice.”
Their response is absolutely confusing to me. Why would anyone react this way to such a glorious miracle of God? I can tell you why: It was because the Israelites had hidden sin in their hearts. They were secret idol worshipers, now this is a compelling insight for us all!
Unbelievably, these people still held on to the small golden idols they had brought with them from Egypt. The Apostle Stephen said these idols were “figures which ye made to worship” (Acts 7:43). The Israelites had carved them in the likeness of the giant golden calves the Egyptians worshiped. They cried, “You delivered us from Egypt. You are our God.” And now, in the desert, they still had not let go of their horrible idolatry.
Stephen called this people “the church in the wilderness” (verse 38). He was amazed that even after the Lord had spoken to them audibly, their hearts were still back in idolatrous Egypt. He said of them, “Our fathers would not obey and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt” (verse 39).
You can see why God’s voice made these people shake and be terrified. The reason they thought they would die was because they were in the presence of a holy, powerful God, not some lifeless, carved idol. His Spirit had gripped their souls, and their consciences were convicting them. This can really happen today because it has happened in my life! How about you? Whatever your answer God still loves you and will speak to you!
In the Love of God,
Pastor James Baker