The Israelites were, in a word, terrified. Moses describes the scene: “As soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. And you said, … ‘If we hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore, we shall die. … Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it’” (verses 23-25, 27).
The Israelites had heard the voice of God, and it shook them to their very cores. They didn’t want to hear it anymore, so they asked Moses to speak to God and then tell them what he had to say. This is the setting for today’s reading from chapter 18. Moses writes: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen – just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die’” (verses 15-16).
The Israelites didn’t want to hear the voice of God. God assured them that he would send a prophet like Moses to speak the Word of God to them. What the Israelites didn’t know was that this prophet would actually BE God, but would speak like one of their brothers. When Jesus came, he changed everything for us. Through him we could hear the voice of God without fear. Unlike the Israelites, who only heard God’s voice through an intercessor, we hear it directly through Jesus. Our relationship with God is more intimate, more personal.
This is a gift: the gift of hearing. We don’t have to worry when God speaks to us; we know that, although we are not worthy on our own to stand in God’s presence, Jesus is, and he gave us his worthiness and his authority. Today, let’s take a minute and thank Jesus for being a prophet like Moses and giving us that intimate relationship the Israelites didn’t want.