March 16 Exodus 20:1-17
Let’s face it – Moses’ little band was a pretty defiant club. It took courage and conviction to leave Egypt – leave the “devil they knew” to journey into the unknown.
Put in historical context, the Israelites were surrounded –surrounded by voices saying, if you just worship OUR god everything will be fine, you will fit in, you won’t be an outsider, you won’t make us uncomfortable.
But even after God led them from the land of Egypt, after the miracles of the plagues and of the Red Sea, even then, in their doubt and fear, as they waited for Moses to return from Mount Sinai, some of them listened to that siren song and made idols to those other gods, thought that their God had deserted them and maybe those other gods were a better choice. And then Moses returned with this text, which we know as the Ten Commandments, the clearly delineated call of God to live a life of faith and community: have no other god before me, respect your family, respect your neighbor — radical concepts even today.
How like the Israelites I am every day – distracted by other voices, unable to see the miracles and the clear path right in front of me. And what defiance is required to focus – focus on the true voice that leads us onward. But if we can just clear the noise, and listen to the Moses in our lives who brings us our very own tablet of laws, there is hope for us all:
“Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready my God thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine.”
Words by Clara H. Scott, 1895.