Listen to the voice…

And he said, “If you carefully listen to the voice of Yahweh your God and you do what is right in his eyes and give heed to his commands and you keep all his rules, then I will not bring about on you any of the diseases that I brought about on Egypt, because I am Yahweh your healer.” (Exodus 15:26, LEB)

God’s people had just crossed the red sea by God’s mighty hand, and were crossing the desert and came to a place with water. The water was bitter, and they could not drink from it.

Instead of seeking God in prayer, the people grumbled against Moses. But this was not just grumbling to Moses, the people needed to learn to trust God for all their provision. Moses cries out to God as their mediator, so the Lord had him throw a piece of wood into the water and it turned sweet.

In Ex 15:26, it says that God made this regulation for them, and that he was testing them.

The plan is simple, trust the voice of your God and do what is right in HIS eyes. But the opposite of this is to not trust or do right in His eyes which has a consequence.

This pattern is repeated, instead of grateful hearts seeking the Lord in prayer they grumble and complained, so the Lord says again that He will test them to see if they will walk in His ways.

Today, in all that is going on in the world, death, disease, wars, and violence, it would be easy to fall into the same pattern that Israel did in the desert. But this is not what our Lord desires. In the book of James, the spirit led him to write these things…

Consider it all joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask for it from God, who gives to all without reservation and not reproaching, and it will be given to him. But let him ask for it in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed about. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:2–8, LEB)

Testing of our faith will come, but God is using it to grow us and bring us to maturity. It is very important in all of this that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past but seek God out for His wisdom. Pray earnestly and without doubt, for the Lord is good and desires for us to be more like His Son.

Paul in his letter to the Philippians encourages them with these words…

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be made known to all people. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are pleasing, whatever things are commendable, if there is any excellence of character and if anything praiseworthy, think about these things. And the things which you have learned and received and heard about and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4–9, LEB)

So, let us not be anxious or grumble. Let us rejoice daily in the Lord and allow His peace to fill our hearts. Thinking every day about the good things that are true, honorable, pure, and commendable. Set our minds on things that are praiseworthy and learn from what we have been given. Practice what Paul said in Colossians.

Therefore, if you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1–4, LEB)

So, what does that look like…Pray, and pray often. Immerse yourself in the word of God and listen to his voice and not the voice of the world around you.

Stand in awe

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalm 33:8–9, ESV)

What kind of images come to mind when we think of the words awe and fear? If God where to appear before you at this very moment, what would be your reaction?

The root of the word for fear in Psalm 33 is “yare” and can represent emotional fear, the anticipation of evil without the emotional element, and reverence and awe.

The first time this verbal form is used in the old testament is in Gen 20:8 when Abraham had journeyed to the Negeb and claimed to Abimelech the Sarah was his sister and he takes her. God would then appear to Abimelech in a dream and told him he was a dead man because he had taken a woman who was another man’s wife. Abimelech woke from his sleep and called his men and explained what had happened and it says they were very much “yare” (afraid).

The same verbal use is found in Ex 14:10 when the Egyptian army is marching on Israel and as Pharaoh drew near, the text says that the people “yare” (feared) greatly.

The psalms like to use parallelism where the second line repeats the thought of the first line but in different words.

So let’s take a look at the word “awe”. The first time this verbal form is used in scripture is in the book of Job. In Job 41:25 God is challenging Job and is speaking of the Leviathan and during this speech says:

When he raises himself up, the mighty are (“gur”) afraid; at the crashing they are beside themselves. Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail, nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin.” (Job 41:25–26, ESV)

“Gur” like “yare” can also mean to be afraid, feared, intimidated, terrified, anxious, and to revere or stand in awe.

In the context of Psalm 33, the complete idea ends with “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm”, where the writer in verses 6-7 boasts how the Lord made the heavens and by the breath of His mouth all their host.

To me, this seems to point towards great respect and reverence of the Lord in verses 8-9. The kind of awe that you get when you see some of the splendor of God’s creation in the mountains, the oceans, and the wonder of the heavens. I do think that there is still a small element of fear in the sense of knowing who God is and what he can do and that our lives are held in His hands.

Later in Psalm 33 it says:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:18–19, ESV)

In this section “Yare” is coupled with “hesed” which is translated as steadfast love, and drives home that hope (mehahalim) which is to trust, to wait, and to be patient on the Lord to deliver our souls from death.

Currently with all that is going on around us, hope and trust in God’s steadfast love (hesed) can keep or eyes fixed on the end goal – Gods salvation in Jesus Christ, and not on the chaos that is going on all around us.

In 1 Peter 5, Peter writes these words for his readers, may we hold fast to them and stand firm:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6–11, ESV)