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To Fear or Not to Fear

Daily Reading: Exodus 20

Scripture Focus: Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20)

Devotional Thought: At Mount Sinai, God revealed his Law, his character, and his holiness to the people of Israel. Was Moses calmly standing at the base of that mountain, holding the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments? Hardly. The description we are given in Exodus 20 is a terrifying scene: Thunder, flashes of lightning, the sound of trumpets, a smoking mountain, and thick darkness. The people were literally trembling, as was the entire mountain!

Moses and Aaron were the only ones allowed to approach God on Mt. Sinai, and I can’t imagine the courage it would have taken to climb up that mountain! Moses’ words to the Israelites may seem contradictory at first: “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The Lord does not want the Israelites to be terrified of him, but he does want them to have a “fear” – a reverence and respect – for him. He is their Father who loves them and has claimed them as his people, and yet they needed to realize his holiness, for their own good.

Do we fear the Lord? He is our good Father, and we are heirs to his kingdom. He loves us and has given everything to be reconciled to us. But he is also holy, majestic, and glorious beyond our imagination. As believers, we may “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Heb. 4:16). This does not mean that we casually or irreverently “saunter up” to our holy God, but that we humbly recognize our freedom that is only found in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.


Prayer: Lord, thank you for providing a way to you through your Son, Jesus Christ. It is only by faith, through grace, that we can be saved, claim our identities in you, and approach your throne with confidence.

Psalm of the Day: 8 Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, 9 who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. 10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. 11 You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; 12 you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. 13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, 14 that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. 15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah (Psalms 66:8-15)

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