For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.—Romans 1:20
I was watching a program about mountain climbing one evening. One of the climbers was talking about the effects of high altitudes on the human body. He said that even if a person gets a perfect bill of health from a doctor before the climb, if there are any “hidden” or unknown illnesses or weaknesses in them, the mountain would find them out.
He told of one man who was in perfect health outwardly, but as they neared the summit, an undetected abnormality in his heart surfaced, and he had a heart attack.
When I heard that, a light went on in my head. This is what I was experiencing spiritually.
“That’s like God! God is the mountain!”
When I began my quest to get closer to God, I thought I was spiritually healthy. But, the closer I come to Him, the more of my hidden sin is revealed in me.
“Lord, show me this truth in Your Word.”
I was struck at once by the story in Exodus 19 & 20.
Mountains are a symbol of power and authority in the Bible. God brought His people to Sinai because He wanted to speak to them. He wanted a relationship with them.
They were happy to receive God’s favor, even to sanctify themselves for two days and “wash their clothes.”
But they were only “clean” on the outside. Though they weren’t aware of condition of their hearts, God was. So, He imposed a boundary at the base of the mountain to keep them from attempting to get to Him on their own terms and dying from their sin in the process.
God came down to meet with His people. In the fire and smoke and thundering, He spoke His judgments on them, making them aware of their sin.
At this point, each person had the opportunity to repent, and ascend into the fire to meet the Lord. But the fear of losing their lives caused them all to turn away.
“God’s too scary, Moses,” they said. “We’d rather listen to you.”
“Don’t be afraid.” Moses, who’d been meeting with God for some time without dying, tried to assure them. “God is only testing you. If you get closer to Him, you won’t go astray.”
What the people didn’t realize is, God’s wrath wasn’t directed at them, but their sin. That’s what was coming between them and their God. That’s what needed to be burned away.
“the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”—Exodus 20:21
The people could have come back down from the mountain in the radiance of God’s glory as Moses did, but their lives—their sin—meant more to them.
God warned them, “Fine. If you don’t want to know Me and live in My power, you can make sacrifices to appease me. But don’t make any idols. And don’t try to get to me by your own works or I’ll reveal your shame.”
We all know what happened next. Moses had no more returned to God to receive the written law, when the people did exactly that.
None of them entered the Promised Land.
Had they climbed the mountain, making an idol wouldn’t have even entered their minds. They would have been filled with The Glory of God and His law would have been written on their hearts.
What a blessing that Jesus removed the boundary from the mountain for us. What a privilege to be able to enter into the fire and smoke under the protective covering of His precious blood.
Is the smoke still blinding and scary? Yes. Does the fire still burn? Absolutely.
And yet, we find, like all mountain climbers who reach the summit, the sun shines brightest beyond the clouds. We see the world as we’ve never seen it before. Life as we’ve never lived it before.
Happy climbing in 2014!
God’s grace and peace be with you,