Jordan Ministries
Embracing God's Promise of Abundance When Hardship Endures
Standing at a Distance
by Jenny on July 17th, 2019

"When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear." Exodus 20:18

Ever read much of the Old Testament portion of the Bible? Readers of the Old Testament sometimes (oftentimes?) comment that God seemed meaner in the Old Testament than He does in the New Testament. The Old Testament documents the history of Israel as a nation. The Old Testament describes wars and God's judgement and even punishment on both enemy nations, as well as the chosen nation of Israel. But the Bible tells us that God never changes (James 1:17). God demonstrates just as much love and compassion for His people in the Old Testament as He does for His people in the New Testament. But similar to today, God's people--those He has chosen to know Him, those He is in the process of calling to Himself--often fail to recognize all God has already done for them. Rather than drawing near to God to learn more about Him, they stand at a distance from God, trembling with fear.

The book of Exodus tells us that God's people lived in Egypt for approximately 400 years, living the majority of that time as slaves to the Egyptians. But Exodus 7-12 describe the mighty power God unleashed on the Egyptians in order to free His people from slavery. "God caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for" as they departed Egypt (Exodus 12:36). God led His people in a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21). God did not lead His people down the main road, because He knew His people were unprepared to face enemy territory (Exodus 13:17). Instead, God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness (Exodus 13:18), providing for their EVERY need along the way. When they wanted meat, He gave them meat (Exodus 16:12). When they needed water, He gave them water (Exodus 17:6). God led His people in this way to a mountain called Mt. Sinai. At Mt. Sinai God intended to give His people further instruction on how to live. But it is at this place that instead of standing in awe of all God had done for them, God's people stood at a distance, too afraid of Him to draw near. All of God's people stood at a distance, that is, except Moses.

Maybe Moses was just a curious guy. Maybe after spending forty years tending sheep in the wilderness Moses was desperate to see something new. Whatever the reason, when God revealed Himself to Moses through a burning bush in the desert, Moses said to himself, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight . . ." (Exodus 3:3, emphasis mine). Moses bowed down in reverent fear of God many times. But he never let fear of God's power distance him from God. Indeed, it was the very power of God that caused Moses to draw near to Him. Yes, God called Moses and only Moses to meet Him atop Mt. Sinai. But God wanted His people to draw near, not to stand in fear. "Don't be afraid," Moses answered them, "for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of Him will keep you from sinning."  (Exodus 20:20) A reverent fear of God is healthy and appropriate. A trembling fear of God is unnecessary and will cause us to miss out on all He wants to do in our lives.

The New Testament repeats a similar story. Those most familiar with Jesus drew near to Him to listen to His teaching and to witness His miracles (Mark 1:22), and they invited others to do the same (John 4:29). Those unfamiliar with Jesus stood at a distance, trembling with fear (Luke 8:37).

Where do you stand?

God is good (Psalm 119:68). God loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you so that you could come to Him (John 3:16). God came, not for those who have it all together, but for those who are broken, filthy and messy (Mark 2:17). Do not let your fear of God keep you standing at a distance. Come close to God, and God will come close to you (James 4:8).

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Crossing Your Jordan

I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling, Bible-teaching mom of six, and wife to my college sweetheart. I believe everyone can live a life of abundance through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and radical obedience to His Word.

Do you have a relationship with God through Christ? If not, I would consider it pure joy to tell you about God, why you need Him, and how to be reconciled to Him through Christ.

If you know Christ as your Savior, do you know how to follow Him as Lord? If, like me, life's challenges have caused you to question whether you truly want to follow God's plan for you, or you simply don't know how to recognize God's ways due to a lack of biblical literacy, I would love to teach you what I've come to know about God through His Word.

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