Heading up the mountain
Exodus 24: 12-18 (NIVUK)
12 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.’
13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his assistant, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 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.’
15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 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. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Mist on the mountains ushers us into mystery. Familiar shapes are smudged to charcoal outlines and the contours of the land recede dimly into the obscurity of distance. We have to learn to navigate differently when mist descends. Our attention turns to the discipline of using a compass and seeking out our route on the filigree profiles of a map. We learn to discern different signals, new ways of knowing where we are. We develop new skills for navigating our way forward. We learn to explore the unknown.
Moses was called by God to a place of mystery up on the mountain, shrouded in cloud. All that was familiar was left behind – the demands of leadership, the numerous voices asking action of him, the daily numerous decisions needing to be made. He was called to this place of withdrawal and isolation, hidden on high mountain slopes behind a veil of cloud. In the quiet of this remote place, after six days of waiting, Moses finally heard God’s voice. He was given the design for a new sanctuary, the meeting place for God and his people, and was led into new ways of leadership, of leading the people onwards in the desert, of shaping the crowd into the nation of Israel.
It was a seminal moment in the story of the people of Israel, needing the silence of quiet isolation to hear God’s voice with clarity. Sometimes we need to withdraw from the continual stimulus of life to the quiet places of retreat and aloneness in order to hear freshly and clearly God’s voice to us. In our unhurried, unrushed withdrawal to the separate places he will come and speak as we wait, giving new direction, new guidance, new vision, new growth.
Whose glory burns like consuming fire,
In the earthquakes and high winds of our lives
Help us to listen for the still small voice,
The gentle whisper
To be found in quiet.
The Transforming Quiet: Every day this week spend 5 minutes in silence. Take a moment to still yourself before God and rest. Don't feel any pressure to think about anything in particular. Don’t worry if you get distracted. After spending five minutes in silence you may feel like saying a prayer but it's up to you. Take the time to be in the silence before carrying on with the rest of your day.