"And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. You said, 'Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives. Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go near and hear all that the Lord our God says; then speak to us all that the Lord our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.'" (Deuteronomy 5:23-27)I was struck by the difference between the people's and Moses' response to the presence of the Lord. Moses responded by going up into the presence of the Lord to receive His word while the people responded with fear. Moses was drawn closer to the Lord while the people drew back. Why does the presence of the Lord cause some to draw near and others to shrink back? I think the key difference was that the people of Israel knew about God, but Moses knew God. Consider the observation that David made:
"He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel." (Psalms 103:7)The son's of Israel saw God's acts, deeds, and miracles. Moses, however, knew God's ways, character, and nature. The people knew what God did, but Moses knew God. Moses had a relationship with God. Moses knew His nature and His character and was not afraid of His presence. The people, however, only knew of what God did, they didn't have a relationship with God. Because of this, when God came, they're response was fear.
It is important that we do not become content with the substance of God's gifts, blessings, and miracles and fail to acquire a relationship with the giver of those gifts, blessings, and miracles. As exciting as our experiences in God may be, they should never become a substitute for a relationship with God. God describes the difference between His relationship with Moses and that of even the other prophets of his day.
"Hear now My words: if there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord." (Numbers 12:6-8)There are many people today who are seeking for an experience, a dream, a vision, or a manifestation, yet, as important as those may be, they can never compare to a "face to face" relationship with God. Visions are one thing, but an open, "mouth to mouth" relationship with God is another. Visions and experiences will one day cease, but our relationship with the Lord is eternal. Let us receive with gladness the experiences we have in the Lord, but let be willing to go beyond experience to have a whole hearted relationship with Him.