God had just given Israel the 10 Commandments they were to live by and they immediately disobeyed Him.
Ex 20:19 … and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” ESV
Israel’s response was to put man in between them and their Creator. They weren’t consciously being disobedient, they were simply ignoring Him. They did not respect Him and were showing that they did not love Him. Jesus gave us the same warning…
John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. ESV
Just like it was for Israel, if we choose to “listen” to the voice of man and not “hear” the voice of the Lord, we will find ourselves wandering alone in our own wilderness without a clue.
Why are we so terrified of the fact that God want’s to speak to us individually? After all, we are His creation and we are individually and wonderfully made. Perhaps it is because we know that if God is speaking to us there is something He wants us to do and if we don’t want to do it we will step into disobedience. So who do we listen to?
We will gladly listen to the voice from the pulpit, on the TV or on the Internet (our Moses) and get the message after it has been filtered. Then if we don’t agree it is easy to say… That’s just your own idea, and while it may come from God, I don’t agree with what you are telling me.
Do we really want to follow in Israel’s footsteps in our disobedience? God has not spoken to us from a mountain surrounded by storm clouds, lighting and thunder. He has given us His living Word… Jesus. Moses was the forerunner for our Lord, and Jesus has come to speak to each one of us individually through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. And at the same time He has given us the choice to hear from Him or from man.
But God uses man!
Yes, we are blessed to have awesome men who are called and gifted of God to teach us the Word of God, the Word of Truth. But it is our responsibility to take what we have been taught and square it with the Word. We are the sole arbitrator of what we listen to, to ensure that it lines up with the Word of God, and to be obedient to His Truth. And the key to following that path is not just to “listen” but to “hear” (understand) what is being said. That cannot happen if we take the Holy Spirit out of the process.
Jesus was very clear when He put it all in perspective. He plainly delivered the message to us that Israel did not receive from God. It is the foundational message that underpins our relationship with Him, it is the whole foundation of who God is and what God expects of us. It was a simple, clear message that is being ignored today just like it was in the past … If you love me, you will keep my commandments.