There’s something about a mountaintop experience – literally and figuratively. Epiphanies happen on the mountaintop, and you can see things that you couldn’t see before. The primary challenge with a mountain top experience endures – at some point you have to return to the valley.
Exodus 31:18 – Exodus 32:1, Exodus 32:7
18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
1When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.
Verse 31:18 excites me. Moses had a great day. He had heard from God and received the two tablets of the covenant law which had been inscribed by God’s own finger. My imagination limits my ability to fully conceive of how wonderful this must have been. In all of our lives, we have small glimpses of this moment. At a Bible study, at a retreat, in our prayer time, we begin to process God’s word and gain new epiphanies of who He is. It’s exciting. If we could only find a way to stay right in that moment on that mountaintop. However, our experience may be like Moses’s experience, and human reality may be only a few steps away from the mountaintop. Why?
1. People that we love and trust don’t always climb the mountain with us. Our points of revelation and trust may occur at different times than the others around us. Moses’s relationship was deepening with God, and Aaron was still at the base of the mountain.
2. Returning to reality can be harsh. Mountaintop experiences bring those rare moments of learning and peace. Returning to the valley with people who didn’t make the same journey may bring its chaos. In such a short period of time, Moses has had this incredible experience with God. Aaron and the bunch at the bottom of the mountain had built a golden calf idol and were having such a party that Joshua mistook the party for the sounds of a war (32:17). How did Moses react to the chaos at the bottom of the mountain? He was mad.
3. Mountaintop experiences prepare us for the valleys; God’s work takes us through the valleys. We don’t know how Moses felt about staying on the mountaintop, but we do know how God felt about Moses staying on the mountaintop. God’s word had been given to Moses and God’s people needed a leader to help them understand God’s word. Moses may not have been made for the mountaintop experience, but the mountaintop experience had been made for Moses to prepare him for what lay ahead.
4. Other mountaintop experiences await you, and each mountaintop experience prepares you for God’s work to do when you return. Moses had seen God before in a burning bush on a mountaintop shortly before God equips him to free the Israelite people. Moses and Aaron met on the mountaintop to further prepare for freeing the Israelite people. In Chapter 34 Moses returns up the mountain, experiences God again, and returns to share God’s word with the Israelite people.
Dear God, Help us listen when we are close to you on the “mountaintop” and realize that others may not have the fortune of being with us. Returning to reality may be harsh, but give us strength to continue with your work when we return to the valleys. Keep speaking to us and give us mountaintop experiences to encourage and to equip us. May we be found faithful when we are on the mountaintop and when we are in the valley. Amen.