We all make bad decisions. It happens every day. But there’s a difference between a bad decision and a life-defining and history-altering mistake. Bad decisions are “I think I’ll have another slice of cake please” or “I think my wife will love getting this aerobics video for her 40th birthday!” Those are bad decisions. But these are horrible mistakes:
- Ignoring the warnings and scraping your ship against an iceberg while carrying more than 2200 passengers (see RMS Titanic)
- Having a few drinks while driving an oil tanker and spilling 760,000 barrels of oil into the ocean (see Exxon-Valdez)
- Doing whatever Tiger Woods did back in 2009 and altering the trajectory of his life and of the sport of golf forever
It’s tough to recover from those kinds of mistakes. Those are the ones that you’ll probably spend the rest of your life trying to recover from.
How about mankind as a whole? What’s our greatest mistake? Aside from Adam and Eve and their big no-no back in the Garden of Eden, what’s the biggest mistake we’ve ever made?
Recently I was reading through the Old Testament book of Leviticus (fyi, my LEAST favorite book in the Bible – very long and very hard to understand). As I was trudging through it and trying to understand all the ceremonial laws that God gave Moses to give to the people, something hit me...
I felt bad for Moses.
Why? Because he had an enormous job. He had to not only remember all the laws that God was giving him (painful level of detail given), but then He had to teach it to the people as well. He first had to understand it and remember it and then make the people understand it and remember it too.
That stinks for Moses! I have it all written right in front of me in the Bible and I can’t get through 2 paragraphs without losing focus and having my mind wander. Moses had to sit up there on top of that mountain – at over 80 years of age nonetheless – and remember everything God was telling him and then teach it to the people when he came down. Not an easy assignment.
So then I asked myself, “Why didn’t God just speak directly to the people? Why use an intermediary to go between Himself and the people? Why not streamline the process by cutting out the middle man?”
Here is where I discovered the greatest mistake ever made by mankind. Why didn’t God speak to the people? BECAUSE THE PEOPLE REFUSED TO SPEAK TO GOD DIRECTLY.
It wasn’t God’s choice; it was their choice. They refused. They said “we don’t want to talk to Him one-on-one.” They preferred to have an intermediary.
Back in Exodus 20, the LORD told all the people to gather around the mountain while He spoke to Moses at the top and gave the 10 Commandments. The people heard thunder and saw lightning and smoke while God was speaking.
“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:18-19)
What happened? The people didn’t want to talk directly with God. They said “His voice is scary. You talk to Him, Moses, and you let us know what He has to say. But leave us out of this. We’ll sit back on our couches and lounge chairs and you give us a summary.”
Ever since that moment, I believe mankind has had a perpetual tendency to AVOID the Presence of God.
"It’s too scary... I don’t know what He’s going to say... What if I don’t understand Him or what if I miss something important? ... Too much pressure... Let someone else go instead and give us a summary at the end.”
That’s what we do today. That’s why we tell others to pray for us instead of praying for ourselves. That’s why we listen to Bible studies more than we read the Bible. That’s why we rely on sermons and books (or even blogs) to teach us about God.
Obviously I’m not against any of these things (that's what I do for a living) but I am against relying on them for our primary relationship with God. My primary relationship with God must be founded upon a personal, one-on-one relationship with God. The blogs and books and sermons are all supplemental, but my primary relationship must be direct.
Imagine if every time you wanted to communicate with your wife, you had to go through her mother. You couldn’t talk to her directly. You’d contact the mother, ask her a question and then wait for her to get back to you with an answer as to what your wife is thinking or feeling. Anyone think that is a good formula for success?
Same holds true for God and our relationship with Him. Listening to others speak about God is great; but nothing beats hearing from Him yourself. Yes it is a bit scary at times, but realize that He loves you so dearly and His greatest desire is to know you and have intimacy with you. That’s why He said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20).
God is inviting you out to dinner. Don’t send anyone on your behalf. You go and meet with Him. That is what you BOTH want.
For discussion: why do you think the people didn’t want to talk to God directly? And how does that relate to us as well?