Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 12

Mosesí fear

Hebrews 12:21

Moses spoke these words on the day when God gave his commands to Israelís people (Exodus chapter 20). Moses was Godís principal servant, and he was completely loyal to God (Hebrews 3:5). But on that occasion, even he felt great fear.

The Book of Exodus does not record these words of Moses. But this was the reaction of all the people when God spoke his commands (Exodus 20:18). Moses was among them then. Godís commands were for Moses, as well as all the other people. Moses felt what they felt. Like them, he understood that Godís standards are perfect. Like them, he knew that nobody can obey all Godís commands perfectly.

We do not think that, like them, Moses was worried because of his own evil deeds. Moses trusted God completely (Hebrews 11:24-29). He trusted God to forgive him. And God was pleased with Moses (Exodus 33:17). God even allowed Moses to see him (Exodus 33:18 to Exodus 34:7).

Moses was worried because God had given him the responsibility to lead Israelís people (Exodus 33:12). Moses' task was to establish the relationship between God and Israel (Exodus 32:30). He spoke to God on Israelís behalf, and he spoke to Israelís people on Godís behalf. But when Moses heard Godís commands, that task seemed impossible. He knew the character of the people (Exodus 34:9). He had heard how perfect Godís nature is. And Moses could not see how it was even possible to establish a relationship between them and God. They would die if they came close to him.

Moses could not deal with this, but God could. God would live among his people, but he would be separate from them. He showed Moses how to build the holy tent called the tabernacle for this purpose (Exodus chapter 26). The people could not approach God, but his priests could do it on their behalf (Exodus chapters 28 and 29).

Also, there had to be sacrifices (Leviticus chapters 1 to 7). If the people even approached God, they would die because of their sins (evil deeds). But God wanted them to serve him and to pray to him. So God accepted the death of an animal instead of their deaths. Those animals were the sacrifices. And because of the sacrifices that priests offered at Godís tabernacle, the people could have a relationship with him.

That relationship was not perfect or complete, because God was separate from his people. But God has now established a new and better relationship with his people. He has done this by the death of Jesus. And we shall read how wonderful it is in Hebrews 12:22-24.

Next part: The New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.