Today is the day we celebrate the festival known, in Hebrew, as Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks. Most people in the western world refer to it as Pentecost because, in Greek, it is known as Pentecostus or “fiftieth” referring to the fiftieth day since we started counting the omer. Tradition believes that, on this day, God gave the 10 Commandments to Israel through His servant Moses, from Mt. Sinai:
“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.” (Exodus 19:16-19)
Something that has always stood out in this story is the fact that, after hearing the voice of God, the elders of Israel went to Moses and asked him to request that God quit speaking to them. They feared that if God continued to speak to them, they would die. It seems that there was some justification for this feeling because, as it turns out, God agreed with the words of the people:
“Then the Lord heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me: ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken.’” (Deuteronomy 5:28)
If they were right, had He continued to speak, they would have died. This is a very important point to internalize because, if we are going to truly live, then we must be prepared to die when we hear God speak. In other words, when His Word goes forth, our flesh – that is, our carnal inclination, our will and our desires – must die to His instruction. God never speaks to us in a way that will appeal to our flesh, because flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The fact is, when He speaks to us, His Voice will always challenge our flesh to surrender to His Will.
The elders of Israel thought they would live if God quit speaking to them. We could say that they were seeking to save their own lives. But the truth is, if God stops speaking to us, then we’re going to die in the worst way. Even though it means our flesh will have to die in the process, we need Him to speak to us that we may truly live. Here’s what the Messiah:
“Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
The elders of Israel thought they were saving their lives by asking God to quit speaking. Later they discovered, to their dismay, that their unwillingness to listen to Him and heed His Words insured their death. We don’t need to make that same mistake. We should desire that He speak to us, as painful and as uncomfortable as that might be to our flesh. We need God to speak into our lives and expose the unfruitful elements tied to our desires and our will.
In these days in which we live, we need Him to speak to us as never before. It may prove to be a very unpleasant experience for our flesh, nevertheless, we need His Word to penetrate our heart today, more than ever before, so that we may live as never before.