“Why are people content to talk to Moses when they could be going up the mountain to talk to God themselves?! Face to Face!!”
I wrestle with this question often. It’s one that was asked by Francis Chan in a podcast I’ve listened to numerous times in the last months.
Maybe I should start by giving a bit of background…classic me, getting ahead of myself 🙂 Let’s get on the same page.
I feel like a lot of my conversations with people the last few months have been marked by frustration or discouragement about their prayer time. It’s tough scheduling in quality time with God! Can you relate to that struggle?? I think deep down we all know that this time with God is absolutely fundamental to our spiritual health…I mean, if we use the race analogy, think about being properly nourished to run. If you only drink water or have a couple pieces of fruit before going for a run, you are NOT going to feel adequately energized or sustained! So it’s the same thing with our spiritual race…if we aren’t being fed and filled by God and His Word, how will we run victoriously? It’s a bit tougher to put that head knowledge into practice though. I get it. I’d like to share some thoughts from a recent Bible Study on this topic:
When you read in the Old Testament, you discover that this was a still a time where not everyone had access to God. Certain individuals were chosen to converse with God, and then what He had to say would be relayed back to the rest of the people. You can read for yourself in Exodus, for example, about how Moses went up a mountain several times to speak with God, but the rest of the Israelites weren’t allowed to follow. They had to have a “second-hand” relationship with God. They had to hear about God from Moses.
The crazy thing is that you’ll read in Exodus 24 that the glory of God looked like an all-consuming fire to the Israelites when they looked up on the mountain to where He spoke with Moses. When Moses came back down to tell them what God had told Him, He was glowing- it says His face was literally radiating from having encountered the glory of God!! Isn’t that nuts?? (Check out Exodus 34) He would come down from meeting with God, his face radiating, and then he would cover his face with a veil until the next time he’d remove it to meet face to face with God. Hang on if you’re confused, because I’ll come back to this right away!
Now fast forward to the New Testament. At the time when Jesus died on the cross, we find out that the veil in the temple tore in half. Coincidental? Not at all! God was so intentional with this visual imagery. When the veil in the temple tore, it was symbolic of the new covenant, where anyone can be in a relationship with God and talk face to face with Him!
Back in the Old Testament times, their worship system included a place called “The Tabernacle”, which had 3 different sections: There was the Tabernacle Courtyard where anyone could come to worship, the Holy Place, which was a place where priests came to perform rituals in honour of God, and there was the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was the Holy place of God’s dwelling- a place where only a High Priest could enter once per year in mediation of his people. It was divided from the Holy Place by a thick, heavy veil (we’re talking 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick!) that went from floor to ceiling. No one else was able to enter this Holy of Holies. Even the High Priest would enter into it with a rope tied around him, so that if he were to suddenly die while in the Holy of Holies, he could be pulled out without anyone else entering this holy, sacred, forbidden place. Doesn’t that sound totally crazy??
So now you have some more understanding about why this symbolism is SO important!! The veil in the temple being divinely torn at the time of Jesus’ death was absolutely life changing for us as believers. No longer do we need to have a priest intercede to God on our behalf…Jesus became the High Priest and said “It is finished”. No more having second-hand relationships with God through a human intercessor, the intercessor is Jesus. No more sacred space where God’s Holy presence resides, His presence is everywhere, and within us in the form of the Holy Spirit.
No more hearing from “Moses” when you can be hearing from God Himself.
Friend, today I’d love to encourage you in two ways: First of all to keep that time with God sacred, and secondly to let your face reflect the glory of God.
Spend Sacred Time On The Mountain
Right now might be a great time to pause and reflect on how much you value your time with God…not how much you think you value this time, but how much your actions show that you value it.
So I’ll be honest with you. A couple years ago my time with God was a verbal priority, but not an actual one. If someone asked me what I prioritize, I’d be quick to say “time with God”. In reality, my morning workouts or sleeping in took priority. Don’t get me wrong, I’d usually make time for God somewhere else in the day, whether in the evening or on a lunch break or some prayer time while driving to class, but I’ve grown in my wisdom since then! I realize now how very sacred this time with God is, and how valuable it is to make time first thing in the morning. Even if that means waking up earlier- and I’ll add that I am NOT someone who loves waking up early!!!
You might be wondering what this looks like. How do I treat this time more sacredly? How do I meet with God? How do I get out of this rut I’m in? I have a few thoughts from personal experience.
1) You’re going up the mountain to meet GOD. Listening to podcasts, video sermons, ebooks, and other sources is great, but DON’T let them become your #1 go-to. Don’t let them replace your alone time with God. If you find that your time listening to other people tell you about Jesus becomes more important than going to Jesus yourself and allowing Him to speak to you, that might be your first problem. I’ll add to this that if you find that your main source of “spiritual feeding” is at Church on Sunday’s, I strongly and lovingly encourage you to reconsider.
This might be different for you based on how God is speaking to you, but I try to only make podcasts or videos my last resort if I accidentally wake up late or want to listen as I get ready. In addition, if I’m studying a topic and a podcast series or book gives more depth and insight to my study, then I love adding to my knowledge in that way. But always start with your #1 source, which is God! There’s a special, personal message you’ll miss out on if you’re always hearing from other sources instead of from your Father Himself. I can for sure speak to this on a personal level, because I went through a time in my spiritual walk where I started going to too many other sources in place of face to face time with God. It slowed me down spiritually. It started being more “head knowledge” than personal relationship.
If I can add a small illustration to help you understand that, think of any close relationship in your life. I’m thinking about mine with my husband, Wes. If I spent most of my time talking to other people about Wes instead of to him, I wouldn’t know him nearly as intimately or as personally as I do. That face to face time is so important.
2) Remember that your mornings are a battle zone. Satan wants nothing more than to distract and hinder this alone time with God! So equip yourself to fight distractions! Don’t just surrender in defeat, but fight. Claim victory in Jesus’ name. Get rid of your phone, get into a space where you know you can’t be distracted by anything around you, and do whatever it takes to stay focused. For me, that means using a prayer/devotions journal that helps me keep on task. I then also get to write down victories, answered prayers, and things that God is speaking to me during my time with Him. That becomes so encouraging when I look back. It makes me desire that time even more.
Some other thoughts and ideas to fight for undistracted time: Any technology that might distract you should be turned off and put away. Use a space that won’t draw your mind to thinking about things that need to get done, such as dishes or laundry. Establish ‘no interruption time’ with your kids. Go for a walk or spend time with God outside if you connect well in nature or easily become restless. Create a “prayer closet” for yourself. Use a journal to write so your mind doesn’t wander. If you have any other thoughts, I’d love for you to share them with me!
One last part to add to this thought…I think it’s great if you can schedule in a time every day. I know this can be tough, but consistency is hugely helpful when it comes to quality time with God! It’s the same as in any relationship with someone you love. If I think about how crazy busy Wes and I have been the last several months with our house renovations on top of everyday life, we wouldn’t be able to get that quality time if we didn’t purposefully schedule it in. How much more should I be setting aside time to have quality talks with my Lord Jesus?
3) Ask God for a greater desire. Guys, I truly believe that God LOVES to answer this prayer. I will be the first to admit that I’ve had times in my walk with God where I’ve felt less than enthusiastic about my prayer and devotions time. I find myself seeing it more as a chore or habit than something I’m excited for. I believe Satan is so at work in our minds when it comes to our time alone with God….so you know what? FIGHT BACK with prayer!
It can be as simple as saying, “Father, You see my heart right now. I’m not in a place of desiring this time with you. I don’t long for it. I want to desire it though. Please give me a greater longing for this time with you. Burn a desire in my heart for the sweet, sacred time I get to spend up on the Mountain with you. Remind me more often how blessed I am to be able to spend time with you face to face. You made that possible by sending Jesus to die and end the old covenant. I want to be in awe of Your presence. I want to sit with you now and want Your glory to shine upon my face.”
And you know what, guys? He will answer that prayer. I promise you. It might not come in the form of feelings, even though that can be amazing, but it might look more like a shift in priorities, a deeper understanding of His word as you study, an easier time waking up in the morning, or a greater excitement to set aside your phone and other distractions to have that rest and refreshment with Him.
If you’re feeling like this is an area you constantly feel defeat in, I’d love to encourage you to fast and pray seriously about it. Like I said in my last point, this time with God is a battle zone. Fast and pray to show God that you want to understand a deeper dependance on Him. Fight in prayer to ask God to protect this time, and ask Him to “part seas” on your behalf so that you’re able to retreat on the Mountain with Him.
Let Your Face Reflect The Glory Of God
I’ve been reading in 2 Corinthians 2 & 3 recently, and I want to share this passage that has deeply impacted me. I’ve continued reading further into 2 Corinthians, but I just keep coming back to these passages because of how much God is speaking to me through them!
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere we go, like a sweet perfume. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing…Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have unveiled faces see and reflect the glory of God. And the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us more and more into his glorious image.” 2 Cor. 2:14-15 & 3:17-18
Isn’t that beautiful and amazing?!?
Within chapter 3, it goes more into detail describing how the glory that reflected on Moses’ face was nothing compared to the ministry of the Spirit that came later in the New Covenant. Now let’s stop on that point for a minute… we know that in Exodus Moses’ face literally RADIATED from having encountered the glory of God face to face, and now we read about how that was nothing in comparison to the glory that would be revealed through us by the Spirit!? Now we not only don’t need to receive the “second-hand glory” reflected off someone else’s face, but WE get to reflect that glory- and we’re told here in 2 Corinthians that it far surpasses the glory that shone from the face of Moses.
Praise God. If you have Jesus as your Saviour you can encounter His glory face to face every day and reflect His glory to others. Isn’t that exciting??
Now let’s get to the practical application side of this. Obviously in order to reflect something, you need to be across from it. Think of when your own image is reflected back at you in a mirror- it’s the same thing with God: in order to reflect His image…His glory…you need to be across from Him. Encountering Him face to face.
This takes us full circle back to this point: I need to make the trek up the mountain to meet with God face to face and have His glory shine upon my face.
As much as I’d love to think that I can muster up special power to be a kind, compassionate, loving person, the reality is that I can’t. Anything I try to do in my own strength will fall short. It’ll very clearly be a knock-off version of what God could provide. As I make my way through the day, it will feel a whole lot more like striving if I haven’t been abiding.
As I was studying this, my mind immediately drew me back to John 15, where I often turn to because it’s just SO completely relevant for almost every single topic. Here’s “The Message” Version:
“Abide in Me. Spend time with Me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated you can’t produce a thing… If you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how you will mature as my disciples.”
So how can God’s words be “at home in me” if I’m not spending time with Him…listening to Him…becoming better acquainted with who He is and what His character looks like…?
He is Love. Grace. Compassion. Peace. Joy. Hope. Faithful. Kind. Gentle. I need to be spending time with my Father in order to really reflect who He is to the world around me. My family, my friends, my neighbours, my coworkers, strangers I encounter should all see Christ in me.
Friend, my prayer is that as you and I go into our week we will be renewed in our resolve to spend sacred time on the Mountain with God. My prayer is that as we spend this time with our Lord, face to face, He will meet us there and bless us and let His glory shine upon our faces. My prayer is that as we spend more time with Him, you and I will become more like Jesus. We will have the fruit of the Holy Spirit shining through us, so that everyone around us can smell the beautiful aroma of Christ.
May our faces reflect that of our Saviour! ❤