Summary of passage: The Israelites were afraid upon hearing God speak and asked Moses to speak to them now on for God because they were sure they would die if God continued to speak to them. Moses told them to not be afraid and that God was testing them so that they would have the fear of God in them and they wouldn’t sin.
God told Moses to tell the people to not make any gods of silver or gold alongside of him. Instead, make altars and sacrifice to Him and He will bless them.
10a) One is fear to the point of death or tormenting fear out of guilt; the other is a healthy fear which makes you do things you normally wouldn’t do because you are afraid of the consequences. This leads to honor and reverence. One is irrational; the other rational.
b) The irrational fear can lead to sin in an effort to protect yourself. You are so afraid that you’d do anything. This fear can drive you crazy. The rational fear allows you to think through your actions first because of the consequences of your actions. This can lead to a better life if you think for example of how your words would hurt others before speaking them. One leads to despair; the other leads to obedience and love.
Think of it like a parent: we discipline out of love. Our kids feel that love because we are teaching them how to be a human in this world. God is our parent. We should revere and fear Him. For His love is beyond anything imaginable.
c) Personal Question. My answer: To be honest, neither. I don’t have a trembling fear for my life nor am I guilt-ridden. Nor do I think I fear God enough for the consequences of my actions. I am too selfish sometimes and thus should work more on this. I fear I fail more than I would if I did fear Him more. I think fear resides just sometimes it’s so repressed I don’t know it’s there when I should know it’s there.
11a) That they have seen for themselves God speaking from heaven. He is a spirit and not an image. So we must worship Him as well with our spirit.
b) To make any gods of silver or gold to go alongside Him.
c) We worship God with our hearts. We worship Him as the Holy Trinity. We worship Him as the unseen Holy Spirit who dwells inside of us. We worship His mightiness and His presence. We do not worship the church or altar or any graven image of Him.
12) Our God is not a God of adornment. He does not need fancy or expensive gold and silver. He is seeking our hearts and whatever you bring with the right heart is sufficient. He would probably accept no altar but just the sacrifice if it was made from the heart. Furthermore, an altar of dressed stone would draw attention more to the carver and “what a beautiful altar” it is. This is all about God as it should be. Simple suffices.
13) Part Personal Question. My answer: Wherever God is honored, He will come and bless you. It gives me the hope that as long as God is honored, I will be blessed. And even in my failings, God will bless me as I atone for my sins–ask forgiveness, receive His grace, and accept Jesus as my Savior. All this He blesses.
Conclusions: Good questions on healthy fear of God and the fleshing out of how God desires our hearts and our atonements for our sins, not meaningless presents covering in gold. And as I honor God, He will bless me. Honor His name and receive. Simple!
Reminds me of those plaques with Joshua 24:15: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
End Notes: Most encounters with God in the Bible inspire fear instead of awe. I hope I would be awed and honored and desire more and more like Moses did, but it’s hard to say.
The Hebrew word here for lightning is the same as found in Genesis 15 when Abraham makes his covenant with God.
Note how Moses stands in the place where Jesus will stand in the future–between us and God.
1 John 4:18-19: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”
Interesting to Note: God knew we would sin; hence, His provision of atonement with the offerings and the sacrifices. How wonderful is our God!
God did not want human flesh to be seen on His altar because it was impure.
Personal Commentary: To be honest, this passage stumped me. I didn’t get much out of it. Thus, I did resort to commentary to tell me what I was missing. As a result, you see my answers. Before, there were blanks. Now, I feel like I got it somewhat. I feel like I understand God and what He desires from me a bit more. I feel closer to Him ever so slightly. And this was all due to commentary from someone else who told me what God was trying to get at here.
So to those of you who struggle with the meaning of God’s word: you are not alone. Thousands of years and language barriers and translations is just one obstacle we must overcome. Not to mention how God’s ways are not ours. So my encouragement: keep at it. Keep striving and learning and reading and re-reading the passages. Yes, God will speak to you. But He also speaks through others who have taken the time to write down analysis. Take heart! He is here. Next to you. And He will meet you so that you may know Him and be closer to Him. Even if it’s just a millimeter. And I’ll take every millimeter I can get!