I believe it is safe to assume that we all want to grow. But growth requires honest and awkward evaluation, questioning, and contemplation. So I am going to ask you a series of questions that may make you uncomfortable. Ready or not….
What are you holding onto that is holding you back? What are you holding on to that has a hold on you? What do others around you notice that has a hold on you. What are you holding onto that is slowing you down? What things did you think would make life better, more efficient, give you more energy, help you relax and sleep but now you realize bring you down? What are you holding on to that is dragging you down? What are you holding onto that you hoped they wouldn’t find out about? What do you hope no one discovers? People around you have asked, “What’s wrong?” but you push it off with, “Nothing. I’m fine” So instead of coming clean and getting help, you compensate and expend more energy that you don’t have to cover it up more. What are you holding onto that has a hold on you?
A hand trap is a simple trap used to catch monkeys. Inside the trap is a prize that is desired. When the hand reaches in to grab it, it is unable to pull it out because the hand is now too big for the hole. Only those monkeys who lack the intelligence to let go will be trapped. Let go of what is trapping you. It is that simple. For the sake of people you love and those who love you, let it go. If you can’t let go and you refuse to let go, you are allowing it to master you and enslave you. Do you want to be free?
For the longest time, God’s chosen nation, the Jews, were slaves in Egypt. The small family from Abraham grew into a million or two strong over a few hundred years. The ancient Egyptian leaders enslaved the Israelite nation because they felt threatened. God shaped Moses to lead them out of slavery. But Moses didn’t do anything and God did everything. God used ten plagues to prove to the Egyptian nation and leaders that the God of Israel is the real God and he will protect those who are his. Even though a free nation, the Israelite people were still not entirely free. Sin enslaved them and that truth was exposed when they so quickly turned from worshiping the true God (who saved them weeks earlier) to worshiping a golden calf.
God, who was madly in love with his people, wanted to stop sin. Why? Sin is anything that hurts people. Sin hurts you and hurts others around you. When you love someone and someone hurts the one you love, you feel compelled to defend. When God sees you hurt you and others around you (whom he loves) he is compelled to step in. He stepped in between the Israelites and their false gods. See how hard It was for them to let go.
This was the second time Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone in hand. 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. The first time Moses returned, the people were in the middle of a worship party to a false god. This time Moses face was glowing. This would have been quite a scene.
They were uncomfortable to say the least. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. They were afraid of the uncomfortable confrontation. Sin held them back. This is what sin does. You either have or will deal with this. It is what keeps you up when you want to sleep and keeps you down when it’s time to get up. Sin makes you afraid. Afraid to show it. Afraid to let people in. Afraid of God. Remember this truth: God is against sin because he is for you. He knows that sin hurts your relationships with others and with him. It holds people back. It enslaves them. It drags them down.
The people had a hard time understanding that but Moses persisted. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Was Moses aware of his glowing face at this point? Not sure. We do know that he doesn’t shy away because it’s too uncomfortable. The next part is neat. Since the leaders returned, the others followed. Leaders, know that about your position and influence. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. He delivered the message and the people endured the glory.
33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. It is interesting that he waited till after he was done speaking to cover his face. Paul explained why in 2 Corinthians. He said that Moses hid the glowing glory as it faded. He didn’t want people to see it diminish. But as it diminished, he would go recharge. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord. So the routine was established. Like a glow-in-the-dark object, Moses would recharge under the light so he could reflect it in speaking to God’s people.
God was communicating a problem with their reaction to the glory and Moses’ face-shine fading. It wasn’t the problem with God and his glory, but with people and their sin. Confrontation was uncomfortable as long as they wouldn’t let go. God’s persistence would not allow sin to stop him. Remember this truth: God is against sin because he is for you. God gave a new covenant through Christ. Paul comments “Only in Christ is it taken away…. whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor. 3:14-17). This was a new pattern of thinking. It is not obedience that sets you free. If it is all obedience then the only conclusion is fear because we can’t be perfect.
This is what sets you free. God is so against sin and for you that he did something about it. So he destroys the trap and his glory releases your grasp on those things. Those things that are not good for you, not good for her, not good for him. Jesus forgiveness frees you, frees your conscience, frees you from your grasp on these things.
Some of you may think, “I am not free, I have too many hands in the jar feel better. I keep going back. I can’t let go. I am tied down.” Response: You are not free because of your behavior. You are free because of him who takes your hand. You don’t belong to you. You were bought at a price. You are not defined by what holds you back, but by the new covenant.
What are you holding onto that is holding you back? What is holding you back from having the relationship with your children? With your family? The people that love you most want to be close to you have been waiting for you to give it up. Maybe it’s gaming, maybe it’s your phone, maybe it’s your schedule, your job, your pride, your addictions. Whatever it is. God’s glory has a grip on you. Let go.
Ask someone, “What am I holding onto that is holding me back?” Then, let it go. Why be mastered by it. You are free in Jesus. He demonstrated his love for you that while you were still hanging onto stuff, while a sinner, Christ died for your sin. If you are questioning, if you are on the edge, if you are about to step out the door, if you are not sure about whether this is for you or not, come back next week and listen again. The life that is really free is the one that God offers. Amen.