We were having a conversation at church the other day, and we were discussing a story in Exodus 32. We find Moses on top of a mountain where God is giving him the 10 Commandments. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the mountain, at the people's request Aaron is making a golden calf for them to worship.
God tells Moses what is going on, and then says this: "I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation."
We discussed the temptation we would likely face here to do just what God suggested. I mean, if I were in Moses' shoes, wouldn't that have been a pretty good offer?
Moses was apparently a better man than me. He prayed "Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!" He cries out to God to remember His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Then it says this: "So the LORD changed His mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people."
It's a curious phrase, and a curious idea, and brought up an interesting question from one of the gentlemen there. He asked, basically, "Was God just testing Moses? Would he really have done it?"
I answered that I believed God would have done this, for this reason: when God says something, I believe God means it. I'm just not sure that's the go-to thought for most people today, even good Christians, which this man certainly is.
I think this has real life implications for us today. When we read that God will discipline us, do we believe Him? Do we believe in Hell? On the flip side, do we actually believe that God will answer our prayers, or help us when we try to share our faith?
Trying to find hidden meanings in the Bible, instead of simply reading it for what it is, is not unusual. People have been doing it since the dawn of the Church. While it isn't unusual, that doesn't make it correct.
So next time you're reading your Bible, instead of trying to find the hidden meaning, ask yourself this question: If God really means what's written here, how should I live in response?