GodReflection: Walk Toward the Quake
For three months God’s people walked toward a quake. Life as they had known it is in the midst of Holy tremors.
After ten miracles in Egypt, the experience of God’s release from slavery, they walked across a dry bottom of the Red Sea between two walls of water held in place by the arms of God. Then, they watched as Jehovah God release the walls and destroy the entire Egyptian army.
In addition, they experienced God’s gift of water, manna every morning to eat, and quail to roast as a supplement. And, they saw power flow from the Staff of God to defeat the army of Amalek.
These experiences of the Israelites were no less than preparation by God to walk near the quake of the Holy.
At the foot of the Mount Sinai the time arrived for a glimpse of Holy God.
The Almighty instructs Moses:
Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death’ (Exodus 19:11-12).
Moses continues the narrative:
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God.
They took their stand at the foot of the mountain.
Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.
As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder (vs 16-19).
While God spoke, the mountain rumbles. Not only did God shake the mountain, He shook His people. In fear they wait to see if they will survive. Another bit of the story comes into play.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.” Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20: 18-21).
Over the next three plus chapters, the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. The Almighty shares with His servant Moses instruction for the people.
There is a surprise in the story that I have overlooked before. It was God’s invitation to see Him for the first time. “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
Before that ascent with the elders Moses had Holy work to do. He arose early, built an altar at the foot of the mountain and prepared animal sacrifices as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses read to the people the message received from Holy God on the previous trip up the mountain.
After the reading both altar and people were anointed with oxen blood during a ceremony to seal the promise given by the people. They vowed to follow all of God’s directives.
Then comes the surprise I had missed.
Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank (Exodus 24:9-11).
What was God’s purpose? What was the message that was to ring forth from the Mount Sinai quake to our present day?
I’m over my word count and I need to give this some thought. See you next time to explore more of how to live into Holy Tremors that took place over three thousand years ago.
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: The Mountain Shook