By Joe Chesser
It must have been something awesome! It must have been a time of wonder and fear and exhilaration all at the same time. Thousands and thousands of people were standing at the foot of the mountain and every eye was glued to the sight before them. Nothing like it had been seen before or since. The mountain was blazing with fire to the very heavens, yet there were black clouds and deep darkness. If that were not enough, the voice of God Almighty spoke out of the fire for all to hear. The people saw no form, only the sound of the words, but there was no mistaking the sound for anything else. God declared to His people His covenant, the Ten Commandments, and He then wrote them on two tablets of stone for them to read over and over. God had called His people to that place to not only hear His words, but also so that they would have reverence for Him as long as they lived, and they were to pass on to their children the reverence they felt and the words they heard. Moses warned them to be careful, “and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 4:9-14).
Reverence for God and knowledge of God’s word are not intended to be standalone entities. One requires the other to be as effective as God intends. Many, many years after the incident above King Solomon summarized the entire duty of man as to “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Satan would like nothing more of Christian people than to try to keep these two concepts separate.
When you concentrate on the commands of God, but have little or no reverence for Him, you have removed the power and substance of His words to transform lives in the likeness of God. The Pharisees had this perfected. They knew the Law. They had done the word studies and knew the syllogisms, but they had no idea of the heart of God. They were confident of their own righteousness because of what they did and didn’t do. They could argue and debate truth, and win, yet had completely failed at being accepted by God (Luke 18:9-14). They had no reverence for who God is.
On the other hand, when you focus almost entirely on having reverence for God while neglecting what this awesome God has to say, you will wander through life hopelessly lost. You’ll feel good about it, but still be lost. Satan loves it when we get so caught up in the emotions of praise and worship that we don’t care about anything else. All we want to do is feel good about God. It doesn’t matter how we do it as long as it makes “me” feel good about God. Caring for the needy, teaching the lost, or living moral lives are not important. Being a good spouse or parent or employee is rarely considered.
We need a healthy balance between fearing God and keeping His commands. We need to remember that reverence gives depth and purpose to obedience, and obedience gives expression to reverence. Let’s stand at the mountain in awe of God, and then go and do what He commands!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org