As I prayerfully reflected on these passages this week, I was transported back in time. Back to when I was a schoolboy. Back to when some of the most powerful figures in my life were my Headmasters. They used to wear imposing black gowns or robes in those days, and had a seemingly fixed expression of disdain and dislike for us who dared to innocently seek access to the mysteries and workings of the world. Our fear was palpable, particularly when we transgressed. Sound familiar?
There doesn’t seem to be much of that kind of fear around these days. Certainly not in schools. And certainly not like that in Moses’ time when people ‘trembled with fear’. When people thought they actually might die if God, their one and only Lord whose name they were not to misuse, spoke to them.
Mind you, it hadn’t been easy for Moses and his people since they left the celebration on the banks of the Red Sea. Although God had brought them out of Egypt and performed a number of miracles, they were running low on trust and high on fear. They were not at all clear of what the future held, and what God’s intentions were for them. Unlike us!
With the giving of the commandments, God made it possible for Moses and his people to view their new lives, even in the wilderness, not as chaotic and terrifying, but as meaningful and potentially fruitful. God provided his people with a sense of purpose and identity, and even a sense of security.
That’s us – his people. Complete with a sense of purpose and identity, and security. We need not be fearful. God’s love is always there for us. And because we trust and love him so much, so very very much, we try hard, so very hard, to not sin and keep his commandments. We probably prefer that carrot, rather than the stick approach anyway! I know I do!