20And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
God comes down…to the top.
In Exodus God has been leading Israel visibly for 3 months. A cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Then in Chapter 19 God tells Moses to let the ragtag group of former slaves know that he is coming to visit them in a spectacular way. So spectacular that they need wash their clothes.
They needed to wash their clothes, all 600,000 men plus women and children. What?! You must be having a laugh mate. (When we have to do two weeks worth of laundry it can take two days in between work and school to get it washed and dried!) And the children of Israel are supposed to wash their clothes in the middle of the desert. Where? The Sinai Laundromat? I mean they are in the desert, there weren’t taps under bushes, and we don’t read about an abundance of springs. Just two chapters earlier they had been in the Desert of Sin moaning that they didn’t have enough water to drink. The bible doesn’t explain how they figured out that logistical conundrum, but we can assume they clean up and sanctify, as God comes and visits them.
Lesson 1 – All his biddings are his enablings COL 331. If God asks the “impossible” he has already made provision for it.
What actually jumped out at me reading the passage was this: In his visitation God is both personal and proximate, and unapproachable and removed. All at once. He comes down but only to the top. He speaks to Moses, but only as Moses walks up to him. The tension here is beautiful! Think about it. God communicates that he is close but not common. Sometimes we mistake his closeness for commonness, and our view of him becomes careless. Conversely we can be so over-awed with his majesty that his immediacy is lost sight of.
Lesson 2 – An over emphasis of any attribute of God robs us of a fuller experience with him.
So today, I worship a God who comes down…to the top. A God who wraps his arms around me, and holds the world all at the same time. Shalom!