Go-Between Guy

Go-Between Guy

When I read the OT account of the Exodus, and observe the constant ungratefulness, faithlessness, and overall rotten attitude of the Israelites, it’s hard for me not to get frustrated and perhaps a little self-righteous, as if I would have acted differently had I been there. But as I reflect internally and think about my own proclivity toward doubt and self-centeredness, I really can’t much blame these guys. If I’m honest, I’m no better than they were. And perhaps neither are you.

But when I read this account in Exodus 20, I can’t help but wonder when we dig beneath the surface a little, if perhaps their attitude was, in fact, purely motivated … or at least in part. Here’s the passage:

Exodus 20:18-19 – “All the people perceived the thunder and the lightening flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.’”

Leading up to these couple of verses from Exodus 20, the Lord had just given the 10 Commandments to Moses and then proceeded to make Himself known to the entire Israelite camp, putting His awesome power on display through crashing thunder, an ominous blaze of fire, the mountain shaking on its foundation, flashes of lightening and the piercing sound of heavenly trumpets. And it was immediately after this display that the people turned to Moses with these words, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”

The result of this grand display of deity was fear, and rightly so, I suppose—fear that seemed to push them away from God, their deliverer, and propel them toward Moses, a mere man. And remember, the Israelites had just seen firsthand God’s mighty power at work to bring them out of the bondage of Pharaoh, through a dry corridor of ocean walls, and now His provision in the desert of manna, quail and water. But now, suddenly they want to deal with a man, not with God. They want an intercessor. They want a mediator—an arbiter—a go-between.

And though their overall attitude toward God, their Deliverer, was undoubtedly wrong at many ventures up to this point, I can’t help but wonder if part of their motivation in this case was purely rooted. They saw the awesome power of the Lord of Hosts, and probably wondered to themselves like the Psalmist, “Who can stand before Him in His holy place?” And so they looked to Moses. Right or wrong, they wanted a go-between guy.

People today want a go-between guy as well, but it’s more often not because they observe or understand the grandeur of God, but rather that they’re just too lazy to approach God on their own. So, they go to a local priest, or a pastor, or someone they believe has some sort of direct line to the “big man upstairs.” Someone who can do the job for them. When the moment comes that they need God, they find someone who can get the job done—someone who can help fulfill the sense of obligation they feel—someone who can appease the capricious god they’ve concocted in their imagination—someone who can help make their situation or circumstance better.

Job understood that he needed a go-between guy. But it wasn’t out of a sense of duty or obligation. It was because he understood that he couldn’t be made right with a holy God on his own. So, he prayed out of desperation, “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.” Almost prophetically, Job announced the coming of the Messiah. Job understood that he needed a God/Man who could both touch Almighty God and touch humanity simultaneously.

The Israelites tried to find an arbiter in Moses. I have Catholic friends who try to find an arbiter in the Pope. I met a woman in an extravagant cathedral in Romania weeping at the feet of a statue of Mary, trying to find an arbiter. I saw people in the streets of Travandrum, India, shooting off fireworks to wake the sleeping gods, trying to find an arbiter. I saw a man standing with his 3-year-old daughter at a Buddhist temple in Japan, teaching her how to present her offerings—teaching her how to find an arbiter.

All over the world, people are looking for their arbiter. When will we realize that He has come in the person of Jesus Christ? When will we help the misdirected individuals in the thick of our cultural milieu understand that Jesus is the go-between that they are looking for? God help us to start today.