I love Moses! I love the story of God meeting with Moses. I’ve wished that I could have just a bit of what Moses had when he went up on the mountain and spoke with God for forty days. I have often thought to have an experience anything like that of Moses’ I would have I needed to spend time in silence and solitude. I still think those are great things, but I have been trying to understand what is meant by a “personal relationship with God”. I don’t think that it is a phrase that occurs in the scriptures anywhere, and I’ve been wondering if it leads me to have false expectations about how God should be interacting with me. I was flipping through my Bible with this question in mind, and bouncing some Ideas off of a friend. The letters in the New Testament are written to whole churches, so when it is written “you are the temple of God”, it means that we are the temple of God. That blows my mind. We were talking about how it seems that we should relate to God as a community. (Does that happen in church? Or do we all just relate to God individually while happening to be in the same place?) I thought if we are to relate to God as a community, maybe he will relate to us when we are in community. I wondered if that was true. My friend mentioned the letters to the churches in Revelation; they are to churches, not individuals. I find that to be interesting. I then thought about Moses. In Exodus 19 God has a message for his people, the commandments. He gathers them all together so that as a community they hear from God.
“Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.” (Ex 19:17-19)
I wonder what it was like to be among the Israelites that day?
“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex 20:18-21)
In the end the Israelites back off, and Moses alone approaches God, but I can’t help but wonder if God desires to meet with us in community. I wonder if we’d be ready for that. I think it is time for me to focus on my communal relationship with God.