When God visits the earth, creation responds. It was so at Mt. Sinai.
One hundred fifty miles and three months out of Egypt, through the Sea and into a wilderness called Sinai, which some scholars think means the “Wilderness of Sin,” or perhaps the “shining moon god,” the Israelites camped for a year at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
It was a year of adjustment.
- They were people who had been ruled faced now with learning to rule themselves in covenant with God.
- They were slaves learning to breathe free.
- They were household servants now living in tents, homeless, but free.
- They were normal human beings who had witnessed the acts of their supernatural God.
- They were people whose status quo was gone and whatever was next was not yet revealed, and
- they were travelers sitting still with a homeland none had ever seen shining like a mirage on the horizon.
It was a year of God’s faithfulness:
- When they needed food it rained from heaven or flew in belt-high.
- When they needed water it flowed from a rock, stricken at the Lord’s command.
- When they were attacked by the Amalekites, God gave them victory through Joshua, a foretaste of their covenantal future.
- When they murmured in their tents, God gave them Moses, a leader who was also an intercessor.
The Shadow of Sinai
They saw the seasons of the year march onto and off of the huge mountain of Sinai. As the sun ran its course each day changing the seasons, the shadow of Sinai passed over them. Soon it was all routine, the new normal, and the people began to complain—Egypt was better than this.
Moses was the most anxious of all the Israelites. He was the one to handle the complainers and to answer the question, “Now what?” His only answer was to wait.
Then God touched the mountain.
There was lightning, thunder, smoke, and a roar from the mountain. This was no natural storm, stuck on the heights of Sinai; this was the same presence of God that had ruined Egypt. This was the force that split the Red Sea. It was the source of their daily manna and the refreshing water from the rock. Their God was back and He wanted something.
What did Jehovah want? He wanted them. He wanted them to love Him, depend on Him, listen to Him, learn His ways but their hearts were as hard as Pharaoh’s heart had been. The sin that dwelt there separated them from their God.
God came to Sinai with a plan, a plan of redemption through which the people could commune with Him daily. It was an earthly copy of His Heavenly Throne room, His dwelling and ruling place. He would take up residence with them, not just with them, but in them, in the very center of them. They would be His People and He would be their God. They would be a Kingdom of Priests to the rest of the world.
God knew what no one else knew—this plan of worship, this blood covenant would be a blueprint for a better covenant to come, a covenant in the Holy Blood of Jesus. No wonder the mountain trembled and smoked. No wonder lightning walked the heights and thunder rolled down the mountain into the plain below.
When God visits the earth, creation responds. It was so at Mt. Sinai—and at Mt. Calvary.
Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him. … God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners into freedom; but the rebels shall live in dry places. O God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, the earth shook, and the skies poured down rain, at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. … the Lord will dwell there forever. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands; the Lord comes in holiness from Sinai. …They see your procession, O God, your procession into the sanctuary, my God and my King. The singers go before, musicians follow after, in the midst of maidens playing upon the hand-drums. Bless God in the congregation; bless the Lord, you that are of the fountain of Israel. … Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord. He rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; he sends forth his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God; his majesty is over Israel; his strength is in the skies. How wonderful is God in his holy places! the God of Israel giving strength and power to his people! Blessed be God! your praise from age to age.
Exodus 19:1-19 NIV
In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt — on the very day — they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ … On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
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.
Hebrews 8:5; 12:18-22 NIV
They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.
Lord Jesus, never let me stray from the mountain! You touched Mt. Sinai and it trembled, just as I did when You touched me. You gave Your life on Mt. Calvary and that is where I found new life. You dwell at the summit of Mt. Zion, Your ruling place; my destination when I worship You in Spirit and in Truth. In truth, though different locations on earth and in heaven, these mountains are really one in the same: the Mountain of Your Great Love. Lord, do not let me stray from the mountain! Amen.
See His Glory
Words and Music: Rich Cook
See His glory; see His glory.
See His glory come down.
Praise His name. Heaven Reigns!
See His glory come down.
See His glory come down.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved