When my kids were teenagers, I had a job where I had to work through the summer holidays. I would leave them lists of all the chores that needed to be done that day. They still joke about how I prioritised hanging out the washing. They could get away with anything else, so long as that was done. As adults, they understand now how difficult it was with a house full of people and no tumble dryer, but back then, it was a game to see what those monkeys could miss off the list without me noticing. In other words, they wanted to be seen as obedient, but with as little effort as possible.
Moses knew that before he went up to meet with God (for the laws he’d been given to be ratified), he needed to write them down for the people. He needed to make sure they knew what was required of them, for them to be a people in covenant with God (Exodus 24:1-4). They listened attentively as he instructed them on everything God has told him, and with one voice proclaimed, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” So Moses wrote it all down for them to remember – a full written record.
If you’ve ever read on, you’ll know that it didn’t take them very long, in Moses’ absence, to forget every word of it. Their unanimous response of obedience was nothing but rhetoric. It came from their mouths, but not from their hearts.
I think I sometimes have that sort of attitude with God. I’ve promised I will serve him all my days but…How much can I get away with? Will God really notice if I do this, or don’t do that? It’s not really my fault, it’s just that I’m tired. How much prayer is enough? I’ve done my bit. So long as I’ve read a few verses and said a quick prayer, that’ll do for today…
Not much different from my teenage kids, really. I want to be seen as being a good Christian, but not so keen on the effort.
Only Moses was allowed to go up and meet God. Maybe the reason God did not permit the people to come into his presence was because he knew their half-hearted attitudes. He also knows mine. So if I long to come into God’s presence in fuller and fuller ways… then I need to do some repenting and heart changing.