On the Mountain with God
I realize it is difficult to really take the time to sit and read the Bible (Let alone study the Bible.) Not so much that we can’t find the time, it is more-so that we just find other things are more interesting to read or to do. I want to tell you that for as long as I have been reading and studying the Bible I am amazed at some of the new things I learn. Especially when I am able to put things together and discover even more of the phenomenal attributes of the God we serve.
This week’s readings from the lectionary provide just such a discovery in that the readings bring together the amazing relationship between an absolutely awesome and powerful God, AND US and the human nature that just never seems to produce the qualities that God desires in us. Let’s look at some of the readings we heard this morning.
Did you notice as I read the three scriptures this morning that all three readings dealt with God’s presence? From the Old Testament we see Moses going up on the Mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. From the Gospel we see Jesus going up pray to God. In both these instances God was there in the presence of a cloud. From the Epistle we learn how important it was that three of the disciples witnessed God’s presence on the mountain.
Now beginning with the Old Testament reading from Exodus. Up and down the mountain. Moving back a little further than our reading from Chapter 24 we move to chapter 19 for it is here that I see two things we should note. First, God pinpoints the one single act that the people should never forget, AND, Second, Moses is in for a rude awaking as to the nature of people before God. So bear with me as we walk through some verses from Exodus that truly illustrate what God’s intentions are.
In Chapter 19 we learn it has been only the first three months of a forty year journey out of Egypt when some events begin to shape up. The Jewish people have been set free from bondage in Egypt and they are camped at the foot of Mt Sinai. Moses goes up on the mountain and God speaks to Him. “THUS YOU SHALL SAY TO THE HOUSE OF JACOB, AND TELL THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: ‘YOU HAVE SEEN WHAT I HAVE DONE TO THE EGYPTIANS’ “
This has become the one single act which God has used throughout the entire Old Testament to encourage His people. One single act. I have set you free and you have seen my mighty works. This one single act should have been enough to for the people to have developed faith in God. God acted, the people saw.
That was the one single act of God that He carries throughout the Old Testament. What do you suppose the one single act of the New Testament is. Te one given for us that we should develop faith in God? One act. We spoke about it recently. Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Was that act enough for you?
Ok. So God continues to speak to Moses on the mountain. “IF YOU WILL INDEED OBEY NY VOICE AND KEEP MY COVENANT, THEN YOU SHALL BE A SPECIAL TREASURE TO ME ABOVE ALL PEOPLE; FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE. YOU SHALL BE TO ME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND A HOLY NATION. Then He tells Moses, “THESE ARE THE WORDS YOU SHALL SPEAK TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.
Remember all the things we talked about last week, about being obedient to God’s will. It all started way back here in the 19th chapter of Exodus. Here is my will for you. So Moses comes down from the mountain and tells the elders and the people all that God has commanded. Then all the people answered together and said, “ALL THAT THE LORD HAS SPOKEN WE WILL DO.
So Moses goes back up the mountain and gives the words of the people to God who appears to Moses in the form of a thick cloud. Now if you read the next couple of chapters of Exodus you will see this cloud mentioned frequently. This was the way God appeared to the people and it was this same cloud and appearance we see when Jesus went high up on the mountain apart. This cloud is called the SHEKINAH CLOUD.
Then God tells Moses he must consecrate the people and also tells Moses,
YOU SHALL SET BOUNDS FOR THE PEOPLE ALL AROUND. TAKE HEED OF YOURSELVES THAT YOU DO NOT GO UP TO THE MOUNTAIN OR TOUCH IT’S BASE.
So Moses goes back down the mountain and sanctifies the people. On the third day, in the morning, there was thunderings and lightning, and a thick cloud on the mountain. The people trembled But Moses brought the people out to meet God. Mount Sinai is completely in smoke because the Lord had descended. The Lord called Moses to come up the mountain. Again.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down ---“, “What? I just came up!” “Go down and warn the people lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish. And here is where Moses is taught a lesson in human nature, even though he may not know it yet. Moses can’t understand why God wants him to go back down and warn the people after God had just told them of the warning from God not come near the mountain.
Moses said to God, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for you warned us saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it.’ “ Moses has faith in the people. “Lord you said don’t come up. They won’t come up”
God doesn’t argue the point with Moses. God simply says, “Away! Get down, and then come up.” You see, God knew better. So Moses went down and spoke to the people. But as God began to speak up on the mountain the people again heard the thunderings and saw the lightning and they were afraid. But Moses said to them, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you.” Hey remember those words? We talked about them some time ago. “God has come to test you.” Remember how we said that can be translated as, “God has come to PROVE you.” Prove you. Prove you to be worthy of Him.
So we finally come to the reading we heard for this morning’s Old Testament Lesson. Exodus 24
Now He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord…” THE SIGHT OF THE GLORY OF THE LORD WAS LIKE A CONSUMING FIRE ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN IN THE EYES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. SO MOSES WENT INTO THE CLOUD AND WENT UP INTO THE MOUNTAIN. AND MOSESWAS ON THE MOUNTAIN FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS.
While on the mountain God gives Moses instructions for building the tabernacle. Forty days and forty nights he is gone. Meanwhile, the people whom Moses stuck for before God just a short time earlier are having some thoughts of their own.
NOW WHEN THE PEOPLE SAW THAT MOSES DELAYED COMING DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN, THE PEOPLE GATHERED TOGETHER TO AARON, AND SAID TO HIM, “COME MAKE US GODS THAT SHALL GO BEFORE US; FOR AS FOR THIS MOSES, THE MAN WHO BROUGHT US UP OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAS BECOME OF HIM.
AND THE LORD SAID TO MOSES, “GO, GET DOWN! FOR YOUR PEOPLE WHOM YOU HAVE BROUGHT OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT HAVE CORRUPTED THEMSELVES. THEY HAVE TURNED ASIDE QUICKLY OUT OF THE WAY WHICH I COMMANDED THEM.
Down the mountain again after forty days and forty nights. But did you notice anything peculiar in that last reading. God said to Moses, “Your people have corrupted themselves.” All of a sudden the people who would be a ”treasure” to God are no longer his people but they are Moses people and it was Moses who brought them out of Egypt.
God is ready to bring His wrath upon them until Moses persuades Him otherwise. Wow! Talk about answered prayer. But Moses once again comes down from the mountain. Moses saw the golden calf and the people dancing and was angry and threw down the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written and broke them. The tablets that he was to use to teach the people..