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Hearing God When You Are Disillusioned

Mount Sinai is a place of signs and wonders. Burning bushes,
dark clouds, thunder, wind, and fire. We will see many times in Scripture where
God speaks in the imposing voice of Nature’s power.


Israel would be led through the wilderness with a pillar of
cloud by day and pillar of fire at night.


Elijah would be the fiery prophet witnessing the destruction
of Baal’s prophets on Mount Carmel. He would leave the world at the end of his
days in a chariot of fire—a tornado of fire that would take him away.


The death of Christ at Calvary would include an eclipse
darkening the sun and an earthquake tearing the Temple veil.


The Upper Room would have the sound of a hurricane and the
appearance of fire overhead.


But you can see the signs and wonders and still grow
disillusioned. You can witness many miracles and become disheartened. You can
be part of something huge and struggle with feelings of exhaustion and
unanswered questions.


On Mount Sinai, we find another story that schools us in the
ways of the Lord.


Following the Mount Carmel sequence where God sent fire from
Heaven to consume the sacrifice and the priests of Baal were executed, Elijah
comes down from that experience and enters into a state of depression and
exhaustion. God takes care of Elijah and eventually sends him on a journey to
Mount Sinai.


Elijah knew about that place. He knew the history and how
God had appeared to Moses and the people.


1 Kings 19:

Angel Of The Lord Came Back A Second Time And Touched Him And Said, “Get Up And
Eat, For The Journey Is Too Much For You.” So He Got Up And
Ate And Drank. Strengthened By That Food, He Traveled Forty Days And Forty
Nights Until He Reached Horeb, The Mountain Of God. There He
Went Into A Cave And Spent The Night.



Elijah was in a broken state of exhaustion when he arrived. As
Elijah rested and brought his frustrations to God in the cave, there would be
three manifestations of Nature power that would take place. God told him to
stand on the mountain and that God would reveal himself.


First, there was a hurricane, but God was not in the mighty
wind. Then there was an earthquake, but it was not God. This was followed by a
great fire, but God was not in the fire.


Finally, there was a gentle whisper of wind and Elijah hid
his face because God was in the whisper.


Mount Sinai teaches us that God can show up in powerful
displays but also in the quiet voice. God speaks to the exhausted Elijah with a
question. What are you doing here Elijah? From here there would be a
recommissioning and preparation for what would come next.


If we find ourselves in a state of exhaustion and
frustration, God has not abandoned us. But He might approach us in a different
way than what we have been accustomed to.


The Lord was showing that he is not only present in the
magnificent manifestations of Sinai, where no one can mistake his appearing,
but he is just as present in the smallest things of life and often accomplishes
his purposes through ordinary, unobtrusive means


Anger at God’s people caused Moses to break the Law that God
had graciously supplied. But God’s mercy calls Moses to come back and receive
it again for the people.


Elijah’s anger and zeal would lead him to a breakdown where
he is disillusioned with the state of the nation. But fire and power were not
God’s modus operandi for this encounter. Elijah needed God’s tender approach to
be able to discern the path ahead.


Let’s not let our past experiences determine how God will
move in us today.


God does show up in special places but never assume to hear
the same-old-same-old. God is consistent in His character but creative in his
expression. The signs and the wonders that follow those that believe are always
appropriate in bringing us to see the Kingdom of God unfolding.


[1] NIV Grace And Truth Study Bible ©2021 by Zondervan.
All Rights Reserved

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Mercy Says Try Again

Though God and Moses were angry with the people, God was
willing to show more mercy and try again. God instructs Moses to cut out two
more stone tablets and to come back up the mountain.


Exodus 34:

The Lord Came Down In The Cloud. He Stood There With Moses And Announced His
Name, The Lord. As He Passed In Front Of Moses, He Called
Out. He Said, “I Am The Lord, The Lord. I Am The God Who Is Tender And Kind. I
Am Gracious. I Am Slow To Get Angry. I Am Faithful And Full Of Love. I
Continue To Show My Love To Thousands Of People. I Forgive Those Who Do Evil. I
Forgive Those Who Refuse To Obey Me. And I Forgive Those Who Sin. But I Do Not
Let Guilty People Go Without Punishing Them. I Cause The Sins Of The Parents To
Affect Their Children, Grandchildren And Great-Grandchildren.”



We are not making up things when we say God is merciful. We
are not abused children afraid to say something bad about our father. The mercy
of God always triumphs over anger and justice. Yes, justice will always come in
the end, but it is consequential to human failure and not Divine preference.


Humanity is never caught unaware without ample warnings from
God. The human problem is in our failure to listen and obey every offer of



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The Children Of Israel Breaking Bad

I always pictured Cecil B. DeMille’s movie depiction of
Moses holding the two stone tablets. They were huge like grave markers with
large print. In reality, they had to be small enough to carry up and down a


In keeping with ancient Near Eastern practice, these were
probably duplicates of the covenant document, not two sections of the Ten Commandments.
One copy belonged to each party of the covenant. Since Israel’s copy was to be
laid up in the presence of God (according to custom), both covenant tablets
(God’s and Israel’s) were placed in the ark. Because it was God’s covenant, and
the stipulations of the covenant were his


While the stone and its’ placement in the Ark of the
Covenant were intended to be preserved, the real finger of God was trying to
write the Law on the hearts of the people.


Hebrews 10:

16 “This
Is The Covenant I Will Make With Them
    After That Time, Says The Lord.
I Will Put My Laws In Their Hearts,
    And I Will Write Them On Their Minds.”


So, Moses comes down the mountain with two copies of the Law
in hand. One copy is God’s and the other belongs to His People. But instead, of
people waiting in reverence for Moses’ return, they grew impatient and wondered
if he was coming back. They came to Moses’ assistant Aaron and asked that a
golden calf idol be made, so they would have a god to call on.


Aaron quickly obliged and Moses returned after 40 days on
the mountain to find the people singing and worshipping the golden calf. God
was angry with the people and Moses interceded on their behalf asking God to
spare them. But as Moses approached the base of the mountain, he became full of
anger as well.


Exodus 32:

19 When
Moses Approached The Camp And Saw The Calf And The Dancing, His Anger Burned
And He Threw The Tablets Out Of His Hands, Breaking Them To Pieces At The Foot
Of The Mountain. 20 And He Took The Calf The People Had Made
And Burned It In The Fire; Then He Ground It To Powder, Scattered It On The
Water And Made The Israelites Drink It.


God was displeased with the people and now Moses is burning
with anger. In smashing the Law, he was losing sight of its purpose. The
willingness to abandon God and worship another pointed to the lack of direction
and relationship the people had with God. They knew they needed a god and would
worship another if Yahweh didn’t meet their expectations.

God’s gift of the Law was to train their hearts in knowing
right from wrong. The wilderness wanderings would be a series of heart tests to
see if they would follow Yahweh or go another direction.



[1] NIV Study Bible Notes, Fully Revised Edition ©2011 by

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Bringing Others To Your Place Of Encounter

At the foot of Mount Sinai, the barefoot prophet is given
God’s mission. ‘Go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go into the
wilderness so they may worship me.’


And the mission of God spoken stirred up Moses’ youthful
passion when he lived a contradictory life in Pharaoh’s house while his own kin
were being oppressed and kept in submission to Egypt’s power. Moses remembered
how his own anger and led him to an act of murder.


Now, the author of reconciliation is sending Moses back to
confront the injustice and to call for deliverance. The story will tell us
exactly how unsure and uncertain Moses was and his series of questions to
disqualify himself from God’s purposes.


One thing that Moses could not do was argue with the sign of
the burning bush and the clear voice of God telling him these things. This
place of encounter was happening to Moses so that others could also come and
encounter God.


Exodus 3:

11 But
Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites
out of Egypt?”

12 And
God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I
who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will
worship God on this mountain.”



Many events would occur as Moses’ left this encounter and
began the journey back to Egypt. If Moses ever had reasons to doubt, he moved
forward in faith. As each chapter would unfold, God confirmed the mission with
signs and wonders following.


Finally, God’s people were assembled in the same place that
Moses had encountered God. This time it was not a burning bush, but a
mountaintop covered in fire, dark clouds, and thunder. Not just the ground
around the burning bush, but a whole mountain that was holy ground and


Although it was terrifying to the crowds, God’s invited
guest Moses came up into the mountain of holiness. There he would encounter God
and be given a gift to change the history of the world to this present day.



Exodus 31:

18 The
Lord Finished Speaking To Moses On Mount Sinai. Then He Gave Him The Two
Tablets Of The Covenant Law. They Were Made Out Of Stone. The Words On Them
Were Written By The Finger Of God.



In the holy place, holy things are given to bless the world.
All of God’s chosen ones were being commissioned at Mount Sinai to relinquish
their bondage to Egypt and find freedom by coming into agreement with God.



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Barefoot On Holy Ground

In most instances, mountains are connected to wilderness.
Ancient cities were generally near bodies of water, trade routes and/or fertile
places. Large populations were dependent on the governance of resources and the
development of community systems. The wilderness was the domain of wild animals
and nomadic tribes tending to herds.


Moses’ was raised in the Pharaoh’s palace in Egypt in the height
of bureaucratic power, resource, and technology. And yet, it would be his anger
that blurs his vision for justice. In killing an Egyptian, Moses now had
betrayed his benefactor and needed to run for his life. He escapes to the
wilderness where he would become a shepherd, meet his wife, and begin his own
family. With the passing of decades, Egypt became a distant memory.


As an exiled man living in obscurity, it would be Mount
Sinai that would trigger something from his youth. Another name for Sinai was


Moses’ origin story included being born to a Hebrew slave
family at a time when there was a pronouncement of infanticide on Hebrew baby
boys. In the ironic twist that only God can orchestrate, he is spared from
slaughter and rescued by none other than the Pharaoh’s daughter. Raised in
Egyptian royalty and yet his own mother was placed as his nursemaid.


The Hebrews had been in Egypt for the past four hundred
years, but this was not the Promised Land that Abraham had set out to find. Moses
is called out obscurity in the wilderness to lead God’s people back home.



Exodus 3:

Now Moses Was Tending
The Flock Of Jethro His Father-In-Law, The Priest Of Midian, And He Led The
Flock To The Far Side Of The Wilderness And Came To Horeb, The Mountain Of God.
There The Angel Of The Lord Appeared To Him In Flames Of Fire
From Within A Bush. Moses Saw That Though The Bush Was On Fire It Did Not Burn
Up. So Moses Thought, “I Will Go Over And See This Strange
Sight—Why The Bush Does Not Burn Up.”

The Lord Saw That He Had Gone Over To Look, God Called To Him From Within The
Bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses Said, “Here I

Not Come Any Closer,” God Said. “Take Off Your Sandals, For The Place Where You
Are Standing Is Holy Ground.” Then He Said, “I Am The God Of
Your Father, The God Of Abraham, The God Of Isaac And The God Of Jacob.” At
This, Moses Hid His Face, Because He Was Afraid To Look At God.



In the shadow of Mount Sinai God gets Moses’ attention. A
bush on fire that does not burn up—what is this curious thing that Moses has
never seen in all his years of nomadic movement? The starting point of God
speaking into a person’s life often includes a curiosity about something
unexplainable. Something that calls you into an examination.


Upon approach, a voice speaks from the fiery bush and
announces Himself. The God of Moses’ ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was in
this space with Moses. He is warned to not come closer and to remove his
sandals. This mountain is holy ground.


Moses is instructed to remove his sandals because the
area is holy. The priests, who would later serve within the holy compartments
of the tabernacle, did not wear anything made from leather, because it came
from a slaughtered animal. God’s presence is associated with life and not
death. The holiness of God is an important motif within the books of Exodus and


The bare foot must walk carefully because it is more
vulnerable. There will be no sudden running from this place because we are
barefoot on holy ground. In the presence of God, we too must come in reverence
and vulnerable.




[1] NIV Grace And Truth Study Bible ©2021 by Zondervan.
All Rights Reserved

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God On The Mountain


Each person’s journey with God will feature at least one
place where a significant encounter happens. It may be in a jail cell, the back
row of a church service or daydreaming on a riverbank. Many of us can remember
the places of significance where the natural environment became supernatural.


God is omnipresent in the physical realm. When you actually
have a spiritual encounter, there is no mistaking that God is present, and you
will likely remember where it happened to you.


Mount Sinai is a significant place in the history of God’s
people. And like the places God chooses to use, there is sometimes a return to
the site where something happened.


Let’s journey to Mount Sinai ourselves and see what God
would say to us upon its heights.  



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When God Drops His Weapon

Where do you live? If you live in the past when your heart
was hardened toward God and your imagination was in a state of reoccurring
corruption, you live under the flood of consequence. You will never out-swim
your consequences and they will eventually take you down.


If you live in openness to God and follow where He leads,
you will find yourself leaving the past behind and in a journey to new
Creation. With the thunderous ringing of consequence in your ears, you make
safe passage to a new place.


So, what is this new Creation world like? It is a place
where you worship God for His kindness and merciful blessings upon you. It is a
world where you see that God spared you for a reason. God is not at war with
you but opens up the possibilities for you to explore as a highly favoured son
or daughter.


Every time God starts a new chapter, there is a new covenant
to guide us. God’s agreement with Noah, his family and the animal kingdom
confirmed that they were under His blessing and not His curse.



Genesis 9:

12 And
God Said, “This Is The Sign Of The Covenant I Am Making Between Me And You And
Every Living Creature With You, A Covenant For All Generations To Come: 13 I
Have Set My Rainbow In The Clouds, And It Will Be The Sign Of The Covenant
Between Me And The Earth. 14 Whenever I Bring Clouds Over The
Earth And The Rainbow Appears In The Clouds, 15 I Will Remember
My Covenant Between Me And You And All Living Creatures Of Every Kind. Never
Again Will The Waters Become A Flood To Destroy All Life. 16 Whenever
The Rainbow Appears In The Clouds, I Will See It And Remember The Everlasting
Covenant Between God And All Living Creatures Of Every Kind On The Earth.”



The fear of the Lord is a recognition that while God could
easily bring retribution and destruction, his love welcomes us to walk safely
in trust of His goodness. The fear of the Lord helps us discover that we have
been saved from unavoidable destruction and invited to live in peace.


We do not cower before a God that is capriciously angry and
unpredictable. We draw close to the warrior who rescues us.


Rain and the rainbow doubtless existed long before the
time of Noah’s flood, but after the flood the rainbow took on new meaning as
the sign of the Noahic covenant. The Hebrew word can also be rendered “bow”.
The rainbow probably represents the bow with which God often shoots the arrows
of his lightning bolts toward the earth. But after a rainstorm God’s bow is
aimed away from the earth. Whenever he sees the rainbow, he is reminded of his
pledge not to send another deluge to wipe out the earth


The warrior’s bow is not aimed at us. The arc of the
Saviour’s bow is upturned. If any arrows fly, they will point back to God.


The ultimate kill shot of God’s arrow pierced Jesus and
forever ended the war between man and God. It is into this peace treaty that we
are called to live willingly as God’s people. The sign of the Cross is an
upturned rainbow on Mount Ararat.


[1] NIV Study Bible Notes, Fully Revised Edition ©2011 by

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Starting From A High Place

Usually, you have to climb a mountain, but in salvation God
carries you up and sets you down on a mountain. Your redemption journey will
unfold from the high places where God speaks and gives direction. Salvation
begins with a top-down view.

The time came for Noah to open the window on the Ark and
himself be open to the possibility of a new world to live in. Isn’t that such a
significant part of your conversion? Having learned to trust God enough to
leave your world behind, you now can begin to navigate the possibility of a
life beyond the vehicle that brought you to this unknown world.


The story goes on to have Noah releasing birds until one finally
returned with an olive leaf in its beak and then finally a bird being released
that would not return.



Genesis 8:

13 By
The First Day Of The First Month Of Noah’s Six Hundred And First Year, The
Water Had Dried Up From The Earth. Noah Then Removed The Covering From The Ark
And Saw That The Surface Of The Ground Was Dry. 14 By The
Twenty-Seventh Day Of The Second Month The Earth Was Completely Dry.

15 Then
God Said To Noah, 16 “Come Out Of The Ark, You And Your Wife
And Your Sons And Their Wives. 17 Bring Out Every Kind Of
Living Creature That Is With You—The Birds, The Animals, And All The Creatures
That Move Along The Ground—So They Can Multiply On The Earth And Be Fruitful
And Increase In Number On It.”



The flood and the stay in the ark were a year in the unknown
before it was safe to walk on the earth again.


What was God’s reasoning for all this? We had already established
that evil had so overtaken the world that it was past the point of redemption.
In the perspective that only God can hold, this was a return to rebuilding His
dream for Creation.


This was a retelling of Creation. The Genesis story tells us
that God’s Spirit hovered above the waters and that dry land was made to
appear. Then animal, plant and human life was given its domain in which to grow
and thrive.


God would tell Noah and his family the same thing that had
been spoken to the prototype humans Adam and Eve, and to the animals and
plants. Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth with the goodness I have made
you for.


The starting point of God’s plan is not destruction of the
unholy. God begins in a high place with willing participants that will hear his
voice and obey the good purposes for which they have been placed.


Ararat was a retelling and reformatting of God’s beautiful
story for the world. In response to God’s mercy and favour, Noah starts the
journey with reverence and gratitude.



Genesis 8:

20 Then
Noah Built An Altar To The Lord And, Taking Some Of All The Clean Animals And
Clean Birds, He Sacrificed Burnt Offerings On It. 21 The Lord
Smelled The Pleasing Aroma And Said In His Heart: “Never Again Will I Curse The
Ground Because Of Humans, Even Though Every Inclination Of The Human
Heart Is Evil From Childhood. And Never Again Will I Destroy All Living
Creatures, As I Have Done.



Noah uncovers the ark and sees for himself that the flood
is over. The flood lasted for one solar year. Noah does not leave the ark until
God commands him to. Whereas before the flood no one had any time for God, now
the people’s first act upon leaving the ark is to worship God. Noah builds an
altar and sacrifices some of the clean animals as burnt offerings—offerings
that were totally consumed on the altar and represented complete dedication to
God. This act pleases God and is the foundation for a new order based on God’s
promise never to destroy the world again in such a manner, despite human evil.
The idea of God smelling a pleasing aroma from the sacrifice is an
anthropomorphism, a description of God in human terms. The description of the
aroma as pleasing indicates that God accepted it completely. Before the flood,
God was grieved by human sin, but now he takes delight in this offering of


Of course, we know that the new beginning was not the end of
human sin. Not much later, Noah planted a vineyard and got drunk. His son Ham
would get into a form of sexual sin and a curse would be pronounced by Noah.


Many more stories of sin and redemption will unfold in the
Scriptures until God comes up with the perfect solution.


[1] NIV Grace And Truth Study Bible ©2021 by Zondervan.
All Rights Reserved

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Salvation Through Trauma

When we look at Noah’s ark, we see a picture of salvation.
It is not a serene sailboat vision, but rather a journey through trauma and
darkness to a new beginning. Imagine what it was like to have everyone you knew
being wiped out. Not only everyone in the world you were raised in, but also
your place in the world and the history of what you had been and done in the
years preceding. There was no-one left to remember you.

The ark journey is one of confinement in a dark vessel while
an unimaginably violent storm rocks your boat to its limits. There is no map to
guide you, no rudder or sail. You are adrift safely upon chaos. You have not
been told where you will end up or whether you will forever remain in this
confined space.





Genesis 8:

But God Remembered Noah
And All The Wild Animals And The Livestock That Were With Him In The Ark, And
He Sent A Wind Over The Earth, And The Waters Receded. Now
The Springs Of The Deep And The Floodgates Of The Heavens Had Been Closed, And
The Rain Had Stopped Falling From The Sky. The Water Receded
Steadily From The Earth. At The End Of The Hundred And Fifty Days The Water Had
Gone Down, And On The Seventeenth Day Of The Seventh Month
The Ark Came To Rest On The Mountains Of Ararat. The Waters
Continued To Recede Until The Tenth Month, And On The First Day Of The Tenth
Month The Tops Of The Mountains Became Visible.



God had not forgotten about Noah in the slightest. God
remembering means that God now turned his careful attention to the situation of
Noah, his family, and the animals.


When you are converted from darkness to light, you can know
that God has set you apart and given you safe passage through trauma. The
horrific noise and darkness were now changing to endless floating and a coming
to rest upon a mountain. Conversion is like dying without actually dying. The
ark of salvation is like a coffin that carries you to a new world.


Everyone that is born again, will go through a
transformative journey that leaves you having to rest in God’s ability to see
you through to a new day. The ark of safety is a journey that you cannot steer
or navigate on your own. Only God can direct the currents to bring you to a
resting place. Your part was the willingness to enter the ark that was
specifically designed for you. The journey of salvation began with your
willingness to obey God.



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Safe Passage Through Destruction

There’s no doubt that the Great Flood tells us something
about God’s nature vs. human nature in rebellion. God is merciful and kind, but
in his fair evaluation there comes a devastating consequence for blatant
defiance and a continued failure to give God that which He is due.


Genesis 6:

Then The
Lord Saw That The Wickedness Of
Man Was Great In The Earth, And That Every Intent Of
The Thoughts Of His Heart Was Only Evil Continually. And
The Lord Was Sorry That He Had
Made Man On The Earth, And He Was Grieved In His Heart. So The
Lord Said, “I Will Destroy Man
Whom I Have Created From The Face Of The Earth, Both Man And Beast, Creeping
Thing And Birds Of The Air, For I Am Sorry That I Have Made Them.” But
Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord.


In this instance, it is unlikely that God is dumbfounded or
caught off guard. The sin of Adam and Eve had continued through generations and
grown to its logical conclusion. Suffering and death were clearly warned
against, all the way back to the Garden. God had warned that a particular
alliance with the Accuser’s lie would result in certain failure and collapse.
But like anyone that becomes convinced by the whispers of prideful thought, the
man and the woman defied all warning and presumed that they were righteous in
their judgments.


One of the clear problems with the inclination toward evil
is its contagious nature. Sin is clearly a super-virus that is fatal every
time. Only God can provide its cure and deliverance from death.


This man Noah somehow was different from everyone else.
Something in Noah was on-the-mark and God could see a man whose heart was
comparably less vile than literally everyone else. Noah found grace in the eyes
of the Lord.


It would be easy for us to hear the Flood story from an
overtly human perspective and cast judgment on God for allowing the destruction–
but that’s not the moral of the story. This is clearly a story given from God’s
perspective and we need to pay special attention to Noah because he found God’s


How was it that a person surrounded by continual violence,
oppression and rebellion against God was not convinced to live like the Devil?


The starting point of human turning to God is a
disillusionment with how things evolve without God. Somehow, Noah had a
conscience that caused him to regard God and be open to change. Noah is the
story of every person that feels called to a new way of living.


Noah was willing to stay open and listen to the inner voice
of conscience. God eventually convinced Noah that the way of the world would be
catastrophic and specifically that a flood would wipe everything out.


Noah’s holy mission was to build an ark for his family and a
sample of all living creatures. God was going to make a way for humanity and
the animal kingdom to survive what’s coming. The ark would be God’s way to
provide safe passage to a renewed Creation.



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