Understanding the Old Testament

Why God Speaks Through Prophets

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t make a big show of His existence so that no one could ever doubt it?

The verses which follow the making of the covenant in Exodus 19 provide the answer to that question, while also explaining why God always spoke to His people through prophets.

God told Moses that in three days He would “come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (Exodus 19:11), and that He would come in a way “that the people may hear when I speak with you. . . .” (Exodus 19:9) When the third day arrived, “there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound.” (Exodus 19:16) The people were terrified. They “trembled” and “stood at a distance.” (Exodus 19:16, 20:18) In fact, they were so frightened that they asked Moses to not let God speak directly to them again, “or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19)

God granted their request, and thereafter He spoke to the Israelites only through prophets. See Deuteronomy 18:15-18.

This reaction of fear is seen throughout the Bible. When people are confronted by the awesome power and majesty of Heaven, they are terrified. Moses felt this fear (Exodus 3:5-6), as did Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5) and Jesus’s disciples (Matthew 17:5-6, Mark 4:39-41, Luke 8:35-37, etc.). 

When angels appeared to Zacharias, Mary, and the shepherds, the angels had to reassure them by saying, “Do not be afraid.” (Luke 1:11-13, 1:26-30, and 2:8-10)

God wants our trust, our devotion, our obedience, and our love—not fear. Terror like the Israelites felt at the foot of Mount Sinai is in fact counter-productive, from God's point of view, because it makes us recoil from Him rather than draw nearer to Him.

Question to ponder or discuss: If fear is the universal human reaction to the overwhelming power of God, how does this contribute to our understanding of why God came to us as the man Jesus?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

The Truth About America Star Books


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