Chapter 14: Mount Sinai and the Law: Keeping God at a Distance

The Next Best Thing

When the Hebrews ask Moses to speak to them in place of God, they fail God’s intention for them. They will not become “a kingdom of priests,” not on this day. He gave them free will, and they made the choice to keep Him at a distance. He cannot compel them to enter into a relationship they find frightening.

But God, like any good parent, understands their fear. He sees that they’re not ready for Him, so He’s willing to continue working through Moses. But Moses is human. He can’t carry on in this role forever. Clearly, that was never the plan. Moses the man will one day die. And then where will the Hebrews be?

Moses’s whole purpose, and that of the Moses-mind, is to lead us out of bondage and into a direct, living relationship with God. Once we arrive at Mount Sinai, the designated meeting place, he has fulfilled his function. To continue to cling to Moses with the purpose of keeping God at a distance is regressive at best. At worst (as we’ll see in the next chapter), it’s tantamount to idolatry.

The Hebrews must be weaned from their overreliance on Moses. They resemble a child who’s learned how to ride a bike with training wheels, but then refuses to give them up. What started as a helpful learning aid is now a hindrance. As long as they need Moses to intercede for them with God, they’ll never learn to find Him on their own. They’ll never be able to approach Him without fear. Therefore, they need some form of guidance that does not involve Moses or any other authority figure, something they can access on their own that won’t frighten them, something that will endure long after Moses is gone.

To help the Hebrews with this problem, God gives them the law—not just the Ten Commandments, but all 613 laws that follow. The law serves as a blueprint by which they can live their lives. Once handed down (first to Moses, then from him to the Hebrews), the law is available to all. Anyone can access it at any time without fear.

With the law in their possession, the Hebrews no longer need Moses to interpret God’s Word for them. The law replaces him and relieves him of his function. It becomes the new intermediary between God and the Hebrews. It allows them to wean themselves from their dependency on all authority figures, whether Pharaoh or Moses, and gives them a way to shed the last vestiges of their slave identity.

But let’s be clear. Laws are not the same as miracles, nor do they accomplish what miracles can. The Hebrews cannot eat or drink the law. It does not teach discernment; if anything, it precludes the need for true discernment. Why discern the valuable from the valueless when it’s all spelled out for you—literally carved in stone. In this regard, the law functions like a crutch. It helps the spiritually immature Hebrews learn how to walk on their own, and yet, as they come to rely on it more and more, it keeps them from ever learning to run.

The law is an attempt to bring God to the people, instead of God’s original goal of bringing the people to Him. The law does not make us “a kingdom of priests.” It does not bring us into direct relationship with Spirit. It belongs to our world, where it helps us to live as egos. It will not take us to the Promised Land, where it’s rendered useless. The law is a dim lantern for those who, fearful of the light, choose to continue to live in darkness rather than a shining portal that leads us out of darkness and into the light.