You may even find yourselves fighting against God!
34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while.
35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!”
38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.”
39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”
Have you ever asked yourself the question what would it be like to enter into the presence, the visible presence of the living God?
That question was unequivocally answered in Exodus 19 and Exodus 20. It was literally a terrifying experience. In our times there are several awesome, massive events that come to mind. It was like a modern rock star performance on steroids: flashing lights, bombastic thunder, smoke, fire, earthquakes, and the thunderous voice of the Almighty God.
When the children of Israel stood at Mount Sinai, they were terrified. The
Scriptures state, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance” (Exodus 20:18). It was an awesome sight. Smoke billowed from the mountain, and great balls of fire blazed from peak to peak. The sounds were awesome too. There were great claps of thunder and mighty blasts from a trumpet, and the ground shook under Israel’s feet.
Exodus 19 explained that all of the awesome and overwhelming sights and sounds, was because the LORD descended on Mount Sinai in fire (Exodus 19:18). The children of Israel saw visible and heard audible manifestations of the invisible Father God. They were horror struck, virtually paralyzed by fear, shaking in their sandals, and overwhelmed.
While the Ten Commandments were being presented to Moses, in the background the earth rumbled and roared with awesome sights and sounds. It was like a combination of a colossal Fourth of July fireworks display, volcanic eruption, massive earthquake, and a gigantic Queen concert. One of the largest gatherings of Queen fans was on June 15, 2009, with over 350,000 attending an open-air concert in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
But the cosmic display was only the background for the “Greatest Show on Earth,” the revelation of the Father’s ultimate standard for all of life. The Father made an absolute and total claim to the nation of Israel’s “worship, time, relationships, possessions, bodies, speech, and desires” (Ryken and Hughes). They willingly chose to enter into agreement with the living God, to keep and faithfully follow His commandments (Exodus 19:8).
I often think perhaps, if they had read the contract before hand and pondered it a bit, they may not have signed it. Who would ever think that they could keep it perfectly, all the time without ever making a mistake?
Contemplating this 3500 years later, that which was commanded and required is still overwhelming and frightening even to the most casual reader. The Invisible God with no name was now understood to be the ultimate Lord, Master, and Judge of the entire human race, and His covenant people, the nation of Israel, in particular.
REFLECT & PRAY
It is one thing to be embraced by the caring, extended arms of our Father in love and affection. It is quite another to rebel and defy Him. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).
Father thank You that You have revealed Yourself to Your children. You invite us to come and enjoy Your warm embrace and loving presence.
At Mount Sinai when the Father, the Lord God Almighty gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He spoke directly to the people. As a result of this terrifying experience, they pleaded with the Father not to speak to them directly again but rather select representatives who would speak on His behalf.
18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But do not let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”
The Father promised to do just that, and the prophetic “profession” was born. In the New Testament it was followed by the “apostolic” profession. The Father would call and empower a handful of individuals throughout history to serve as His spokesmen.
15 Moses continued, The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.
16 For this is what you yourselves requested of the LORD your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the LORD our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die.’
17 Then the LORD said to me, ‘What they have said is right.’
18 I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him.
19 I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf.
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.
Yet things did not go as intended. Throughout biblical history and right up until the present day, people refuse to listen to the Father’s words spoken through His servants the prophets and apostles.
Jeremiah 25:4 Again and again the LORD has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention.
If we choose not to listen to them and follow them, we are not refusing the opinions, conjectures, or the whims of men, but rather the very words, thoughts, and sentiments of the living Father God.
“I am sometimes amazed at the brazen temerity of people today who will read a section from one of his letters and say, ‘I don’t agree with Paul.’ Well, that makes me tremble. Paul is speaking as an apostle. An apostle is an authorized spokesman. What he says is what he has heard. So, if you do not agree with Paul, you don’t agree with the Lord either” (Stedman)!