Monday, February 13, 2017

hollow commitment

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
Exodus 24:3

It would seem to me that Israel's eager answer to Moses about keeping "all the words" of the Law was rather presumptuous. Did they really have any idea just what they were getting into? I can understand the eager desire to please God. But the commitment to do so seems almost too glib. Yet it could be that perhaps because I know what lies ahead for them, I am letting that knowledge flavor the way I hear the unison recitation of this heavy hitting one sentence response to the Law.

Initially Israel did obey. The Law was kept and commitment to God was enthusiastic. They collected material to build a tabernacle according to God's deliberate and exact design. They worshiped God Who appeared as a pillar of cloud and fire. They were fearful of the trembling at the foot of Sinai. They consecrated a priesthood and brought sacrifices to the altar to atone for sin.

It wasn't long after this early excitement that latent idolatry came roaring to the surface, shoving aside this commitment to obey the Law. The same people who vowed to "do every word" that God had spoken begged Aaron for an idol while Moses had delayed his stay back on the mountain. Even though they had heard the Law, they chose to worship an idol they had seen being made, and committed all sorts of immorality in the worship of a freshly minted golden calf. Knowing how quickly Israel forgot God makes these words promising obedience ring quite hollow.

Without the grace and power of Jesus, my words ring just as hollow. Jesus enables me to live according to God's Word because His righteousness is applied to me. My heart chases idols as badly as Israel did, and I need to trust in Jesus in order to be able to have any hope before God. Only Jesus can complete me so that I have more than a hollow commitment.

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