by: Carole L. Haines
18 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 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 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.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20)
Darkness generally represents evil, danger, or depravity. Unsavory things are said to lurk in the darkness, waiting to harm an unsuspecting passerby. It is completely natural to avoid venturing into darkness because of what may be waiting for us there. Even so, it makes sense that the people remained at a distance in the passage above for fear of God.
Yet, several times in Proverbs, the FEAR OF THE LORD, is spoken of as a good thing, bringing protection, prolonging life, imparting instruction, giving confidence and refuge to God’s people. The FEAR OF THE LORD is declared a Fountain of Life in Proverbs 14:27, so that one may avoid the snares of death. It even says, in verse 20, in the Scripture above, that God wanted the fear of Himself to keep the people from sinning.
But Moses was not afraid and approached the thick darkness where God was. He was not afraid, even though thick darkness obscured Him. Why was Moses not afraid and keeping his distance like the rest of the people?
In Exodus 3:3, Moses was fascinated with the Burning Bush that was not consumed and said to himself, “I must turn aside and see this marvelous sight.” God spoke directly to Moses at the burning bush and told him His name was I AM. Moses developed a long history of walking with God from that point forward. He had the FEAR OF THE LORD, but also a great sense of God’s friendship and love. It even says in Exodus 33:11, “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.”
We too must develop a long History with God in order to balance the FEAR OF THE LORD with an experience of His friendship and love for us. It is the knowledge of God’s character from the Word and the times of walking with Him that evoke this trust. It is only then that we can venture into the deep darkness of our own souls and not be afraid to wrestle with who we really are, what we’ve really done, what things have really happened to us.
God is in those dark places, those deep dark places of our lives that we want to forget about, avoid looking at and dealing with. God is already there and He already knows. He wants to reveal to us these things in the darkness so He can set us free from them and shine His light in and through our lives. It is God’s love that calls us into the deep darkness. Get to know God in the light, and you will not be afraid to approach Him when the deep darkness, which lives in each one of us, begins to reveal itself to us. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)