September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.’ Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, ‘Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.’ When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”—Exodus 24:12–18 (NIV)
In the previous chapters, God entered into a covenant with His chosen people and the Israelites agreed to uphold their part of the covenant. For six days the cloud sits over the mountain, and on the seventh day God calls Moses to enter the cloud where he spends forty days.
These may just seem like numbers, but don’t overlook their significance. To the original audience hearing this story, the seven days echo back to the seven days of creation, God’s number of completion and wholeness. Just as God made all of creation in six days and rested on the seventh, God on the seventh day calls Moses to go deeper in intimacy with Him.
The forty days would also bring to mind the flood where Noah and his family spent forty days and nights. The people didn’t yet know of their forty years of wandering in the wilderness or that generations later, the ultimate deliverer, Jesus, would also spend forty days in the desert. In the Bible, forty days symbolize a period of preparation or testing. While God called Moses deeper in communion with Him, and gave him instructions for the people, God was also refining and testing Israel’s keeping of the covenant.
This passage teaches us several things. First, God calls us to commune with Him. God invites us to experience intimacy with Him and to go deeper into His presence, so we may know Him more intimately and fully. Just as God called Moses deep into the cloud, God invites us daily to come to Him (Matthew 11:28).
Secondly, drawing closer to God means experiencing refinement and even testing. This testing doesn’t mean God is vindictive or trying to pull one over on Israel; rather, when God tests us, His tests are often opportunities to show our faith. In Israel’s case, the absence of their leader would lend itself to a period where each person would have to live up to the covenant they had just entered into with God. For us, a new opportunity or blessing can also lend itself to test our love for God over earthly things.
Lastly, intimacy with God is not just for us, but for those whom God has called us to impact. What God revealed to Moses was not only for his own benefit, it was also to better equip him to lead Israel. Likewise, the time we spend with God is for our edification, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s for us to use so we can make a difference in the lives of those around us—from our family members to our coworkers to our neighbors. God wants what He reveals to us to overflow and transform those around us! Today, God is also inviting us to go deeper, to make Him our ultimate love, and to be a blessing to someone. How will you respond?
Pause: What is something that keeps you from growing in your relationship with God? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal an area of your life the Lord wants to refine and speak into.
Practice: Write down the names of at least 5 people in your life you interact with daily or weekly. How can God use you to reveal Himself to them and to bless them?
Pray: God, thank You for inviting me to go deeper in intimacy with You. Though many things fight for my heart’s affection, You are the only thing that will truly satisfy me. Help me to surrender my fears and comfort and to pursue You with all my heart. I want and desperately need more of You, Jesus. Amen.
Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.