“Don’t touch the stove!” What parent has not said this to a child? What child has not responded, “but why?” As humans, we want to know the reason. So what happens when our curiosity encounters silence?
Exodus contains narrative details and commands lacking explanation. After Moses left Mt. Sinai to encounter Pharoah, God sought to kill him (Ex. 4:24). Our curiosity encounters silence. We thirst to understand why.
The suggestion has been made that after Moses left the priest’s protection (Ex.3:1; Num.35:6,26-27), God being the God of all people acted as the avenger of blood for the Egyptian whom Moses had murdered. Perhaps.
Later God instructed Moses to make the tabernacle according to the design God had shown him on the mountain (Ex. 25:9,40; 26:30; 27:8). Why? As far as we know Moses died without knowing why. However, Hebrews 8:5 provides an explanation.
Explanations are powerful. However, let’s not be naive. People create them and they can either be a blessing or very dangerous. If they reveal the true reason, they enlighten. However, if they seem reasonable but misrepresent reality, they not only distort our understanding, but can even wield an influence promoting disobedience.
Historically, when the plain meaning of scripture has clashed with cultural values, one common method for dismissing the text begins with, “the biblical author wrote this because….” What follows is a background story providing an explanation that results in nullifying obedience.
By the way, Moses obeyed without knowing why. Sometimes we will need to follow in his footsteps when our curiosity encounters silence.