“When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the neighboring regions—the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western foothills, the Negev, and the coastal plain. Go to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, and all the way to the great Euphrates River. Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’”
Moses continued, “At that time I told you, ‘You are too great a burden for me to carry all by myself. The Lord your God has increased your population, making you as numerous as the stars! And may the Lord, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised! But you are such a heavy load to carry! How can I deal with all your problems and bickering? Choose some well-respected men from each tribe who are known for their wisdom and understanding, and I will appoint them as your leaders.’”
As Moses looked back on Israel’s history, his summary of their 40-year journey begins at Mount Sinai, not in Egypt. Why did Moses leave out the first part of the Exodus? Moses was not giving an itinerary—he was summarizing the nation’s development. In Moses’ mind the nation of Israel began at Mount Sinai when God gave his covenant to the people (Exodus 19–20).
Along with this covenant came knowledge and responsibility for Israel. After choosing to follow God, they had to know how to follow him. God, therefore, gave them a comprehensive set of laws and guidelines that stated how he wanted them to live: These instructions are written in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The people could no longer say they didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. Now that the people had promised to follow God and knew how to follow him, they had a responsibility to do it.
Like Israel, we too have a knowledge and a responsibility. We don’t just have God’s law, we also have God’s Spirit. But God has given us his own Spirit for knowing and responding to him. Together with the Bible, God’s Spirit will lead us into all truth (John 14:17). It’s our responsibility to listen to and obey the Spirit’s leading (Galatians 5:25).
If you feel like it’s hard to hear and know God’s Spirit, be confident that God’s Spirit is in harmony with God’s Word. If you are looking for a way to tune in to what God is saying, you can start by really listening to and obeying the Bible. As you do, you’ll develop an ear for the voice of God in your life.