Mt. Sinai holds a special place in the history of the Jewish nation because it was here that the Jewish nation formally began.
You will remember the story told in the book of Exodus, how the children of Israel were delivered through the Red Sea by the mighty hand of God; they marched toward the Southeast for three months (see Exodus 19:1) and finally come to a bleak and barren country, Sinai.
At the foot of that mountain Peak, these refugees make their camp. They don’t know it, but their stay is going to last about six months and much is going to happen.
It was at Sinai, you will remember:
- They enjoyed a season of rest and refreshment.
- They ratified a covenant with God (Exodus 24) and were thus formally made God’s children.
- They heard the voice of their God for the first time, rumbling from off Sinai. Exodus 19:16
- They were given a book of rules to live by, as summarized by the 10 commandments.
- They constructed a tabernacle and accepted the formal rules of worship.
- Priests and their qualifications were given. Preparations were made for the journey.
Of course, all this had been grand: the rest, the preparation, the religious revelation, all the excitement … but finally the moment arrived; the voice of God spoke once again (as recorded in Deuteronomy 1:6 and said, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey…”
- You see, very simply stated, Israel’s stay at the foot of Mt. Sinai was a very good thing.
- But God knew too that there was a very real danger of Israel staying too long.
- There was work to be done.
- Territory to be conquered.
- Miles to be crossed before they were home.
The lesson here is a simple one, and its application is easy to be seen.
- The days spent by Israel in the wilderness serve as a vivid Bible example to us, see 1 Corinthians 10.
- They made mistakes that we can learn from.
- Hebrews 3:8 uses the same method. (Don’t you make the mistake they did.)
- In so many instances, what happened to them in a physical sense, also happens to us in a spiritual sense:
- I get the feeling, that our God could examine his people even in the 21st century–standing on the brink of a brand new year–he could look at us and say the very same thing he did to his people of old–“You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Set your journey and go forward.”
The life of a church is much like the life of the Jewish nation. We are family. The work we need to accomplish cannot be done by just one or 21 of us. We have to move as a unit–to work at it as a family.
The family at Birmingham seems forever to be in a preparing mode. We know we need to be doing something, we just don’t know what is, and so we train and learn and prepare and encourage.
Many of us never think of moving. Like Israel, basking at the foot of Mt. Sinai, we could be content to stay this way forever. But that is not where God designed us to be. It is not what he designed us to do. So this morning, let me offer these few suggestions to get us going for the new year.
We have to move from this mountain because the status quo will not suffice for us.
- We have been long enough doing what we are doing.
- Some of us need to be told:
We have to move from this mountain because God has a wondrous journey planned for us
- You have had peace in the valley, but now you are moving on the upward way. New heights you are gaining every day.
Say alright! We are going up on the high road!
By the way, Lord, just who lives in the high country?
Oh, the Amorites.
But Lord, they don’t like us.
Well, you will have to fight them, sure.
I’m not sure I want to go.
We are going to the high country, the Negev, the south country, down in the valleys and on the plains. You are going to fight all over this land, but you are going to win.
- In the old classic movie The Northwest Passage, Spencer Tracy is John Rogers, the head of Rogers Rangers. At the end of the movie, as his tattered forces had just returned from a long trek with fighting and starvation. John Rogers said:“This next trip we are starting is not going to be like that last little cake walk we were on. No siree. We’re taking a walk first just to whet our appetites—about a thousand miles or so to a little fort called “Detroit.”But that’s just the jumping off place. The starting point.Why you rangers haven’t seen any Indians yet. (They had fought their way through thousands) You’re going to see the plains Indians; you’re going to see the red men of the shining mountains and those men along the mighty river Oregon–red men that white men have never seen before. Because we are going to end up by the great western ocean itself. Paradise.
You’re going to find a way across this continent a northwest passage. You’ll see hardwood groves like cathedrals, corn stalks as tall as elms, rivers packed with salmon trout, and grass so high the cows stand knee deep in it and give nothing but cream.”
- That is the message God is giving us here. You’ve had enough rest. Let’s go. We are going into the land of the Amorite and people of all the Promised Land. You will fight and see things you have never seen before. You will love it!
We have to move from this mountain because the future lays bright ahead of us.
- “You See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers‑‑to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob‑‑and to their descendants after them.”
- Did you notice the principle here? I have given it to you now go take it.
- There was a reason for their moving out and moving on.
- They weren’t being driven out into some dark night with its howling storm.
- He wants them to leave the good for the better that lies ahead.
- If they had stayed there, 10 years later, they would have been nomads dwelling out in a desert land.
God didn’t want that because He had the green pastures of Israel. And that is the beauty of our journey: People used to talk of walking in this veil of tears, this low ground of sin and sorrow, until we come to the cold waters of Jordon to pass over into death. Oh, deliver me!
I like Davids view better: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the second man to step on the moon. Sometime back in an interview on NBC’s TODAY program, he told of the years of education, hard work, dreams and rigorous discipline he spent preparing for that historic mission with Neil Armstrong to the moon.
During the interview Aldrin also told of his later emotional breakdown and slow, painful recovery. This crisis didn’t have anything to do with the moon or with space travel or weightlessness.
What caused it?
Over and over again Buzz Aldrin kept saying that the breakdown resulted from the terrible disillusionment he felt after working so hard, achieving every goal set before him and then finding it all empty when it was over.
Church where we are going what we are doing, will never give you that empty, worthless feeling.
Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
One Sunday an aged saint walked out of the lobby. She clasped his hand joyfully, looked at the preacher, a friend of mine with a big smile and said, Just think Brother Lusk: All this and heaven too.
That is why God calls you to get up and move out. Set some goals. Dedicate yourself. Begin now!
More by Ricci Gambino