A telling difference

When Moses gave the ten words of the covenant, the people were afraid. Mind you, thunder, lighting and a trumpet sound accompanied the smoking mountain. The text says the people “were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance” (Exodus 20:18). Then they told Moses he had to speak with them one on one. There was no way they could talk to God, they thought; they’d die (Exodus 20:19).

Fast forward now many generations. James, the brother of Jesus, became a respected leader of the church. The New Testament epistle bearing his name conveys his teachings in convincing fashion. We know he has Jesus in his mind. His teachings aren’t random fortune-cookie thoughts. They center on the reality of the kingdom of God Jesus preached. But James also draws from the Hebrew Bible, much like his Savior half brother.

When the people were afraid of what they heard from the mountain, Moses assured them. “Do not be afraid,” he said, “for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin” (Exodus 20). Whereas the people were afraid to have God talk to them, James now has different wisdom. 

Whenever you face trials, consider it joy. This testing will do its work for your wholeness. And if you lack wisdom, ask God.

Do you notice the difference? Moses didn’t tell the people to talk to God. James did. What once scared the people is now a fundamental belief for us. That we need not fear to talk to the Almighty God who loves us.

Some of us still fear talking, don’t we?

What are we supposed to say? What if I have nothing to say? Or worse, what if all I want to do is complain?

Does God hear all that, too? Of course. 

Notice how much we’ve changed our perspective. Part of what gets us through the trials and tests is the gift of talking with God. Of course, that’s God’s gift to us. It’s what’s become obvious to us because God has made it known.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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