When the Nation Israel came out of bondage in Egypt, there was a need to organize this wilderness community and make them a distinct people group with their own customs and practices. The God who delivered Israel from oppression in Egypt, the God of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob stepped in to claim this people for Himself, to worship Him and to be His instruments in fulfilling His higher purposes. For this, God began to give detailed rules and laws to be followed by the Israelites from then on. For forty days and forty nights, God met with Moses, the leader of the Israelites on Mount Sinai, to instruct him on the designs and specifications with which the Israelites were to worship God. God also gave two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them with His own finger.
God took all the pains to organize and collate the Israelites under His authority and His protection, with the clear and distinct intension of dwelling with the Israelites and being their God. “…I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.” Exodus 29:45 .
Instead of gratefully acknowledging God’s intention and welcoming Him in, the Israelite camp is seen engaging in idol worship. Even before Moses gets back to communicate God’s purposes, the Israelites make a golden calf and shamefully revel in the midst of this cheap substitute for God. (Exodus 32:1)
This was only the beginning of a series of rebellious acts on the part of the Israelites who never really took pride in their God who desired to dwell with them. Even after entering the Promised Land, Israel continued on a mutinous path disregarding God as King and following after the idolatrous practices of their new neighbors.
God, however never ceased to love this erring community. He always stepped in when Israel repented and was always willing to offer them another chance. His compassion extended so much that He was willing to send His most loved Son to get back His wayward nation, Israel.
However, the Israelites failed to see Jesus as the Son of God, their Savior and Messiah. While they waited and debated on the coming deliverer, they failed to welcome Him when He really came. They questioned Jesus’ authority and asked Him without emotion, “…where is this Father of Yours?....” John 8:19.
To this Jesus gives a throbbing response, “ …my Father ….of Whom you say that He is your God….Yet you do not know Him or recognize Him and are not acquainted with Him…” John 8: 54, 55. Can there be a worse irony? Here were the Israelites claiming to worship a God whose voice they failed to hear, whose Son they refused to recognize. They even went on to deliver their Messiah to a shameful death and bribed their way to hush up His resurrection.
Maybe you label ourselves as Christians and observe lent and passionately follow after traditions and norms to show our godliness. Maybe you never miss Church and work with the missions’ team and sweat it out to proclaim the Gospel message. Maybe you tithe to the penny, give away to charity and come up with the highest collections in Church fund raisers. Maybe your life is full of pious acts. All these are good and they show you to the world as a Christian believer.
The Israelites too professed to practice the Law of Moses and live by every single rule in the book. Yet they did not know the Father or recognize the Son. Reflect on your life today. Does God dwell in your heart, in your life? Do you know the Father? Do you hear His voice? This alone sets you apart as a child of God and certainly not the works you do.