The impending month was upon me and it was time to write. The topic of “relationships” provided so many ideas I didn’t know where to start – dating, marriage, neighbor, coworker/employee, friend, etc. Ideas buzzed like flies and I was paralyzed in fear that not one of the ideas would make it on paper.
I set up to write something… anything… and a verse I had read the other day popped out at me like a neon sign: Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11)
Moses and God met together on Mount Sinai. The Lord gave Moses the law for His people. The law acted as protection for a people who do not know the Lord and His holy ways. The law, the Lord’s covenant, was like marriage vows expressed between a bride and groom.
As the vows were being given on the mountain top, the impatient bride waiting in the valley wondered at Moses’ long absence. The people instructed Aaron make a god for them and a golden calf is proclaimed worthy of worship.
The Lord, still talking marriage vows with Moses, stopped and said, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them.”
The consequences for breaking the vows were steep. The Lord instructed Moses to let Him alone, so that He might consume the “stiff-necked people” in His hot wrath. Three thousand men fell to the sword that day. Those who had sinned against The Lord were blotted out of His book. Then a plague was sent to punish the defiled bride.
But the most disastrous word? The Lord instructed Moses to leave Mount Sinai and go to the land of which He swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the…enemies… Go to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned and humbled themselves.
So His presence lingered. Those who sought Him found Him at the “tent of meeting”, which was parked outside the camp. It was there that Moses met again with The Lord. “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
Moses pleaded with the Lord that He continue to guide the people by His presence. The Lord agrees. This unlikely friendship, Creator and the created, God and man, continues and Moses asks to see His glory. Again The Lord agrees.
The Lord descends in the cloud and stands with Moses, and proclaims His name and His qualities: The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generations.
And that are we to do but follow Moses’ example by quickly bowing our head and worshiping?
As we discuss relationships this month we would be amiss, and surely led astray, if the Lord’s unchanging love for us were ignored in light of all that is temporary.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so you will love one another. John 15:12-17