Twice a week in Pensacola where I live, we have a Scripture study at two coffee houses. I look forward to these meetings because unlike studies at my synagogue where I do most of the teaching and talking, at these two gatherings each participant gets to share a nugget from the Torah that they mined for themselves.
We sit together around a table and just go from person to person, with each person sharing from the sacred text. Once a person shares their nugget, the rest of the participants can comment or interact with the nugget that has been shared.
This form of study is a form of Jewish study called pilpul, which loosely means "pepper." Once a person makes a statement, others in the group can pepper them or each other with other verses for or against their statement and add further comments or questions.
This form of study, many times, causes those involved to find Bible truths that they were not even looking for because the path of the conversation follows an unplanned (at least by humans) stream of thought.
At a recent study while looking into the first chapters of the book of Deuteronomy, one participant asked the question, "Why does it seem as if Moses and the rest of the children of Israel went through the same experiences, and yet Moses appeared to walk in faith while the majority of Israel walked in doubt?"
I had never really been presented with or contemplated this question in this way before. I began to think about these following things. After all, both Moses and the Israelites experienced the following, and much more together:
—The 10 plagues.
—The parting of the Red Sea.
—The destruction of the Egyptian army.
—The cloud and fire.
—The bitter water being made sweet.
—The Ten Commandments spoken at Sinai.
Each of these miraculous events took place in front of the eyes of Moses and the children of Israel, yet Moses walked in faith while most others walked in fear. I knew there had to be something we could point to that caused this difference.
It wasn't that Moses had a relationship with G-D and the rest didn't, because G-D was visibly and tangibly present in the midst of Israel. G-D had spoken to all Israel and Israel had spoken back to Him. I began to pray and look for an answer and one jumped out of the pages of the Bible right into my mind. The difference was not whether there was a relationship or not. The difference was in the type of relationship.
Just think about this with me: While in Egypt, both Moses and the Israelites knew of and had a relationship with the G-D of Israel. We read in Exodus that G-D heard the cries of Israel. We also know that Moses killed an Egyptian to protect a Hebrew because Moses knew he was a Hebrew.
What made one a Hebrew? The covenant relationship between G-D and Abraham.
So, as we see in Egypt, Moses and the Hebrew people had a relationship with G-D. Then, after Moses killed the Egyptian, he ran away in fear (remember this statement). It was in Midian that Moses saw a burning bush and drew near to G-D. G-D then spoke out of the fire.
Moses and G-D had a supernatural moment and it changed Moses' relationship with G-D. Moses didn't run fearfully, rather Moses went back to Egypt and G-D used Moses supernaturally in the deliverance of Israel.
This experience that Moses had where G-D spoke out of the fire changed Moses' relationship with G-D. Moses didn't just see the supernatural; he drew near, or entered, into the supernatural.
Now, let's look at the rest of Israel. At Mount Sinai, G-D offered them exactly the same supernatural experience that He invited Moses into. But, instead of drawing near and listening to the voice of G-D speak directly to them, they responded in fear, drawing away from G-D and asked G-D to speak to Moses instead of them. They rejected the supernatural relationship and chose only to have a physical relationship.
It was because Israel rejected this personal individual supernatural relationship that, instead of walking in faith, they walked in fear. This walking in fear is also the reason that they struggled to walk according to Torah instead of walking in their own ways and often fell into sin.
Years later on the Day of Shavuot (Pentecost), G-D once again offered Israel the opportunity to enter into a direct supernatural relationship just as He offered at Sinai, as we read in Acts 2:1-6:
When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and began to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out. Now Jewish people were staying in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound came, the crowd gathered. They were bewildered, because each was hearing them speaking in his own language.
Notice here that we see fire on top of a mountain again and each person hears something supernaturally. It was this supernatural relationship that changed Peter from someone who was fearful, hiding and even denying Yeshua just weeks before, into someone who, like Moses, stood up in front of all Israel and proclaimed freedom.
This personal supernatural relationship is what is referred to where we read in Acts 1:8:
"But you will receive power when the Ruach ha-Kodesh has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and through all Judah, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
When speaking of the above verse, I often hear people say, "You will receive power to become witnesses." But that is not what it says. The verse says, "You will receive power and you will be My witnesses."
In other words, because we receive this supernatural power, we are then able to be witnesses of that power, just as Moses was after he encountered and entered into a supernatural relationship with G-D. His walking in faith instead of fear was his witness or testimony of the power of supernatural relationship.
Many believers have a wonderful relationship with G-D, have seen Him work miracles, and have felt His presence in their lives, but they have never drawn near to the fire, heard His voice and begun a supernatural relationship. They have a relationship with G-D; it's just external instead of internal. It is physical instead of supernatural.
We sin because our relationship is external, rather than internal. We are depending on our own strength and not the supernatural power of G-D.
If you are reading this today and this applies to you, you can meet G-D at that fire today.
Eric Tokajer is the author of Overcoming Fearlessness, What If Everything You Were Taught About the Ten Commandments Was Wrong?, With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer, Jesus Is to Christianity as Pasta Is to Italians and Galatians in Context.
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