They said, ‘Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire… But now, why should we risk death again? If the Lord our God speaks to us again, we will certainly die and be consumed by this awesome fire. – Deuteronomy 5:24-25 (NLT)
God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses and the people of Israel with fire engulfed in thick clouds of darkness undergirded by earthshaking sound effects. The entire event was a spectacle of blaze and billowing smoke and seismic sound.
No wonder the people passed when it came to hearing God speak again. The sheer magnitude of God’s voice seemed too unnerving, so they sent Moses back up to Mount Sanai to listen to God for them, and to bring them back what was said after it was over.
I can’t help but wonder if the people may have missed God’s message altogether, simply because they were too intimidated by the magnification of its delivery.
Dorothy and her friends were frightened by the smoke and sound effects of Oz as well. But when they got past the booming voice and billowing smoke, they found a man with wisdom who gave sound directives to meet all their needs.
Maybe if the people at Sinai could have gotten past the fire show and the sound effects, they could have heard the heart of the God who loved them dearly. Perhaps they would have heard the tender compassion behind the thunder of all God’s commandments.
The common tendency is to expect extraordinary things to be announced in extraordinary ways. But centuries after the astounding delivery of the Ten Commandments, have we come any closer to embracing their wisdom?
Lord, we are moved by all the effects, but help us not to miss your message. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.