So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Israel has been brought out of Egypt to Sinai. God is in the process of appearing to them on Mt. Sinai and He warns Moses to tell the people that coming too close to the mountain is bad. Moses protests that the people set up boundaries just like God said and God repeats the instruction to go back, warn the people again, and bring Aaron back with him.
Which brings me to this verse. At a glance and without context, this verse is a head-scratcher. Even with context, one might wonder how this verse snaps into focus for me this morning. There are a couple principles that I see here that are applicable to me as one who teaches youth and are more generally applicable to all those who teach God’s Word to others.
First, Moses “went down” to the people. In order to go down to the people, Moses first had to go up to God. In order for me or any other teacher of God’s Word to have any sort of message to give to anyone, we must first receive that message from God. Paul said of the teaching of communion that he “delivered … that which [he] also received” (1 Corinthians 11:23). The disciples were commissioned by Christ to go into all the nations and to teach all that Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 28:20). The pattern repeats itself over and over in Scripture. God gives a message. Person delivers message. So, if I am going to teach God’s Word or have anything to say to others about God, I must first spend time with God and receive from Him.
Second, Moses “told them” what God had said. Sure, they had heard it before, but God instructed that it be said again. I’ve learned, over the years, that there are lessons that bear repeating; things I thought I had learned that I somehow manage to forget. God knows this about us and knows which lessons need that extra bit of reinforcement. And He will make sure that reinforcement is given, so long as those who are teaching His Word and are receiving messages from Him to the people are also telling the people what God has said.
One side lesson that comes not from this verse but from its context: the teacher can be reluctant because he thinks the recipients have already heard and put into practice the message to be delivered. The youth and I are currently working our way through the psalms and those bits of poetry and song can start to sound like they’re repeating themselves. Sometimes, I think we should just stop where we are and move on to another book. As with the (far) greater teacher (Moses), so with the (much) lesser teacher (me). While Moses thought that the people had the idea, God sent him back. While I may think that the youth have the idea of the psalms down, there are still 90+ psalms we have not yet read and studied as a group.
This morning, I am reminded to get myself to God in order to have a message for others, then to take that message down — even, perhaps especially, when I think the message is old hat.