This verse is referred to as the “Shema,” which is how the first word in the Hebrew text is pronounced. This word means “to heed, listen, and obey.” Moses stressed the priority of belief in only one God as the people encountered countless foreign gods around them. And the next verse showed them, and us, the way to perpetuate and foster this belief of only one God, for it states in verse 5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” It tells us in proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” To know God is to love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we desire to listen and obey Him.
Up on Mount Sinai, Moses had received the first set of tablets, engraved by God with the Ten Commandments. But when he came down from the mountain, he found the people engaged in an orgy. It says in Exodus 32:15-20 that, “his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces.” Moses allowed his anger to get the best of him…but even after messing up big time…God still used him. The Lord’s willingness to rewrite His Law on new stone tablets was a demonstration of His infinite mercy towards us…even when we mess up.
Moses and the Hebrew children were wandering in the desert…for a long time it says they journeyed, when finally the Lord spoke to Moses…”It’s long enough.” We will all go through seasons in our lives when we walk aimlessly about, asking the Lord, “Am I going in the right direction?” We will all spend time, seemingly without clear direction, waiting for the Lord to say,” It’s long enough.” But it’s during those hard journeys that lessons will be learned…about God and ourselves. Sometimes we need discipline, or humility…sometimes it’s to get our attention or force us to look at our rebellious nature. When you wander around the same hill, the scenery stays the same…use the time to instead change yourself.
Moses was not frightened by the extraordinary phenomenon he saw before him. Neither was he hesitant or doubtful in his mind that this was a supernatural happening. It says in the next verse, that God called to Moses from within that burning bush as he got near. The Lord gives us visions…such wonderful and great concepts that are almost too much for our feeble minds to take in. But if we approach that vision with boldness and not doubt or fear…God will speak into our hearts…and extraordinary things will happen.
Moses had many excuses of why he wasn’t the person to go to the Pharaoh and demand release of the Hebrew children. But the Lord countered with an airtight defense of why Moses was just the right man for the job. We want to argue with God, but speaking from very personal experience…you’ll never win. We can object all we want, but God desires obedience exclusively. For if He calls you to something, He can and will give you whatever skill is needed to accomplish that task. With God, arguing will get you nowhere…obedience on the other hand, will move His Kingdom forward.
In Exodus 3:8, the Lord had promised Moses a land flowing with milk and honey, and the 12 spies hadn’t denied this was what they observed. But of the 12 spies, only Caleb and Joshua brought back a good report…the rest only saw the negatives and potential threats. How many times have you allowed the word “but” to totally stop the will of God in your life? How many times have you heard the voice of the Lord, but the “giants in the land” scared you into doing nothing? It’s time to move beyond fear, and what we perceive as unsurmountable odds…it’s time to claim our nation again for God.
Moses saw the oppression of his fellow Hebrews, and in that righteous indignation attempted to right the wrong…under his own power, in all the wrong ways. What followed was discouragement and 40 years in the desert with God teaching Moses how to go about setting His people free – the Lord’s way. Like Moses, we may have a vision, and maybe even a clear understanding of what God wants…but we’re not ready yet. We may also need our “40 years” in the desert being discipled by the Lord until He feels we are prepared to do His work.