Scripture Reading: Exodus 24:12-18 (NIV)
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”
When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day, the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites, the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
I’ve come to realise that, in some way or the other, we all seek greatness; whether it is at a global level – with all the fame and attention it promises or at a personal level, in the eyes of those we love and care for or within our small circles.
However, at times one may find that when they look inwardly, they come to the conclusion that they are inadequate, that greatness was never intended for them. Fear and low self-esteem is often the rationale behind such conclusions. In consequence we find Christians who conclude that they can never be great and end up subscribing to low-living and a relationship with God that lacks passion, glory and is simply fizzed-out and mundane and I can confidently say, this was never intended by God and should never be accepted as a norm, even in the face of great difficulties, overwhelming trials and tribulations. God wants all those who believe in Him to conquer mountains, to be great and to experience and illuminate His glory!
In the text we’ve read, we encounter a moment where God calls His servant Moses, up onto a mountain, into His very presence, for a purpose that is greater than himself.
There are mountains which we will encounter, on our Christian journey, purposed by God and God challenges us to come up to the mountain peak.
There are moments when God will set you up! He will put you in a situation that is carefully thought out and well suited for you – not to destroy you but to refine your faith and reveal to you what God intends for you and for you to realise your true character.
In the text, God invites Moses to come up the mountain, on behalf of Israel, to receive the law of God, for the benefit of Israel. Climbing up mountains may present in itself some challenges for the adventurous climber, namely; there are possible dangers that may be encountered in ascending, ascending requires strength and endurance, and primarily requires the ability to overcome one’s fears.
Similarly, whilst we journey with God, in this earthly life, there are moments wherein God invites us to come up certain mountains. Mountains that are purposely set up in front of us by Him, through His divine will and challenges us to conquer them.
The question then comes up, how can we conquer these mountains presented to us, not collectively, but individually?
Obedience and Availability are required.
Many Christians want to be blessed. They want the benefits of being on top of the mountain – a place of achievement and divine blessing, to be in the very presence of God, but surprisingly, are not willing to traverse the harsh terrain and work, that happens to be part of the path to glory.
Perhaps, you are quietly wondering; when will God declare a blessing over your life? Perhaps, you are looking around you and all you see are happy Christian folk and reflecting upon your life, wondering why is it that God is busy blessing other people around you, advancing them, yet you are not experiencing the same? Why does it seem as though God is tending to the prayers of others and not responding to your prayers?
If this is what you are wondering about, I challenge you to ask yourself, at this moment, to what extent are you obedient to God’s instruction and are you truly available to God, in mind body and spirit?
Moses availed himself to God, without hesitation, when God invited him to come up the mountain. He realised that this was an instruction from God, a task put before him and one which he needed to fulfill. He was obedient to God, by fulfilling the instruction. Our faith is proven not only in delighting and being zealous of the prospect of being blessed by God but also requires us to be of humble hearts and to take God’s instruction seriously and being more of a priority over and above what we desire.
Not only are we required to be available and obedient to God, but we must also be willing to sacrifice for a purpose that is greater than ourselves.
The ability to sacrifice is part-and-parcel of the journey.
One of the hallmarks to a matured faith is the ability to sacrifice – the ability to deny ourselves and give up that we consider significant, in the quest to please God.
Moses, without a shadow of a doubt, was called by God to liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and lead them, as God would permit, to the promised land, yet at this moment God requires a level of sacrifice from Moses. Moses had to sacrifice his leadership role to commune with God, leaving Aaron and Hur as overseers. He had to give up being in communion with other people so as to meet up with God.
We need to look inwardly and reflect on the things which we carry in our souls, that over time have become a heavy load for us to carry, that have made it impossible to triumph over our trials and tribulations, and surrender such things unto the Lord, so that we can be in a better position to summit the mountains we are called to summit.
Lastly, although the Israelites did not go with Moses, the witnessed the Glory of the Lord on the mountain top.
God has a habit of manifesting His glory in awkward and unexpected places. Moses’ first experience of God’s glory was through the bush that was on fire but was not consumed on the Mount Horeb. Abraham, called on by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, whilst in the process after the altar had been built and Abraham having laid his son on the altar, God manifested Himself, spared the life of Isaac and provided a ram for the sacrifice.
Often the tribulations we encounter are not easily understood or openly welcomed, yet in the very test that we face God always shows up! On the exterior, it may look like we are within a consuming fire, a process we can not endure and one which we will not come out of, but on the interior and in reality we are right within the very presence and glory of God. And when we come out on the other side, alive and well, people will not only know about the faithfulness of God, but will worship, with us, the God who never forsakes His own, but is an ever present help, even in times of trouble!
In the same text, Christ is revealed!
Our Lord and Saviour, had a mountain which he had to face, during his earthly life, the Mount of Calvary. Although, he performed great miracles, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, taught in the synagogues, the inevitability of his suffering and crucifixion always lurked in the background of his life. The passion narrative was no accident. Jesus Christ was destined for the cross. Calvary was a mountain that God the Father willed, for His only Son.
Jesus Christ was not only purposed for the Cross, but he wilfully availed himself and was obedient to the will of God, even though it seemed as though the task before him was a great and difficult one. On the very night when he was about to be arrested, he prayed on the Mount of Olives, that the cup of suffering that now stood before him to pass, but not so much in accordance with his will, but the will of the Father. The cup did not pass him. He had to face it and drink from it – and he did!
Although Christ anticipated that the pain that he would have to endure in order to redeem humanity, he also understood that his greatness was tied to the Cross and would manifest in the tomb early Sunday morning. Thus, not only did he have to be obedient to the will and greater purpose of His Father, but also lay down His life as a sacrifice, he became the paschal lamb, once offered as a ransom for the atonement of sins and the salvation of all.
His experience was not easy, not in the least, but he did not shun away but preserved to the end. From those who stood underneath the cross, saw his bloodied body and heard his lonely cry, ‘Eloi, Eloi lama Samabactani’, I would imagine saw his suffering as a consuming fire, but to those who looked on with prayerfully and with open hearts, they saw the hand of God at work, the saw a spiritual tabernacle, in which Christ was in, in which he carried his own blood and entered into the holiest place, and sprinkled his blood on the mercy seat, as an atonement offering for the sins of humanity and the only words left to be uttered was, “truly, truly he is the son of God”!
In conclusion, God has purposed greatness for his people, but it will not come easily. It requires that we conquer mountains in the same way that Moses and Christ ultimately did. We need to be available, to be obedient and be prepared to make sacrifices, in order for God’s greater purpose to be established. Your trials ad tribulations are not setup for your destruction, but to propel you into something greater than yourself!