Walk of Separation


Exo 19:3 Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain

Walking, as we have observed it in some of the other meditations, suggests an ongoing relationship. Walking with God suggests a time of communion and mutual sharing. For the Christian it is a time of receiving from God, a time of receiving revelation. Yet we have also seen the analogy of walking extended to wandering – times when there seems little purpose to life, but they so often become times of encounter with the Lord. We also saw in the previous meditation how there is the walk of investigation to find out what is going on. Now we consider what can only be called a climbing walk.

Once Moses had led Israel out of Egypt, the Lord led them through the desert until after about two weeks they arrived at Mount Sinai. Anyone who knows their Scripture, knows that Sinai was the place of encounter with the Lord, and where Israel were constituted a holy nation (19:6), and Moses received the Law from God. The question for any of us wanting to understand more the ways of God, is why did God need Moses to walk and climb a mountain to speak to Him? After all, Moses had spoken with the Lord again and again after the burning bush incident, and during the Exodus process, so why Sinai at all?

The answer is in the text. We have already commented that the Lord was calling them to be a ‘holy nation’ (19:6), and the Lord says He will come and speak out of a dense cloud, so the people can hear Him (19:9). Then He instructs the people to consecrate or wash, cleanse and commit themselves to Him (19:10) and keep at a distance from the mountain (19:12,13). On the third day He came with thunder and lightning (19:16). Finally Moses has to go up and meet with God (19:20). Everything about this speaks of God’s holiness, His different-ness, His separation from the people.

But we have already seen that Moses has been up the mountain previously, and in reality it seems he was going up and down the mountain a number of times (19:3,20 / 20:21 / 24:9,13 / 32:31). Every time Moses was taking a walk of separation. Every time there was a sense that to have close encounter with the Lord – and this was probably the time of greatest revelation in the life of Israel – it was necessary to separate from the ordinary world and climb ‘up’ as if towards heaven.

In a day when, through Christ, we know God as our loving heavenly Father, we tend to forget the wonder of what Christ has done, what can only truly be perceived in the light of Sinai. God is holy, so different, pure and utterly righteous – and we are not. We will never truly understand this until we get to heaven where, if God’s grace allows, we will look back and see ourselves as we truly were and, more importantly, we will see God’s activities and know that He never said or did anything we could criticise. The Cross of Christ has bridged the gulf between, so now today we can know this holy God as Father. How amazing!

But still God reveals Himself in different ways, and at different levels or different intensities. Sometimes there is the quiet whisper of the Spirit that comes in the quiet time, or even in the midst of the busy day, and God quietly speaks. That is one level. Then there are times, usually in worship, when we have a greater sense of the presence or manifestation of the Lord, and such times are equally precious. And then sometimes, at the quiet calling of the Lord, we sense we need to really come aside, to ‘climb the mountain’ and separate ourselves off from our busy, hectic and noisy lives, and go aside to meet God. When we do this, we know the close encounter with God, the greater sense of His presence, and greater revelation. The ‘walk up the mountain’ takes time and isolation. It may be in the form of a week’s retreat, or simply a few days put aside to meet with God. Yes, He is here every day, but this seems to open up a closer encounter that comes after a ‘walk up the mountain’, something most of us can do only rarely. Why not take two or three days out, to separate off from your work life and often active home life, and just go aside, ‘climb the mountain’ and be with God? You’ll never be the same again!

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