I am convinced Moses must have been a trained mountain runner. Though raised on the plains of Egypt, he was constantly moving up and down mountains as if they had escalators. First he had to approach the burning bush on Mt. Sinai where he was commanded to take off his sandals because it was holy ground. God never commanded him to put them back on, so he was probably the first barefoot trail runner as well.
Then at the age of 80, he was commanded to clean his clothes and then to climb Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 19:18-20). Of course Moses’ clean clothes were immediately covered in soot and smoke from the mountain’s eruption, but I am sure Moses brought a dry-cleaning receipt in case God asked. As soon as he reached the top, even before he caught his breath or posed for pictures, the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through and sneek a peak at ME.” As if the volcanic eruptions, smoke and lightening were not a sufficient barrier. Moses, between deep panting breaths, reminded God, “God, you already told them that before I started up here.” God responded, “Yes, but you forgot to bring Aaron and remind the people not to try and peek under the curtain.” Somehow, when Moses reached the bottom he forgot about Aaron or even a chisel, since God had to write on two tablets of stone with his own finger when Moses climbed back up (Exodus 31:18). Maybe Aaron carried the family chisel.
Meanwhile the Israelites got bored (like middle schoolers in worship) and built a golden calf to worship. A golden calf was so much more manageable than a ferocious storm cloud hovering over your head. God sent Moses down to break up the party (Exodus 32:7). Moses, hot and tired, broke the tablets; repeated change of altitude can do strange things to a person. Afterwards, Moses climbed back up to apologize (not sure if he had time to clean clothes before this climb).
Finally Moses biggest mountaineering challenge arrived. He was commanded to cut two tablets of stone and to bring them up to the top of Mt. Sinai. There is no mention of a North Face rucksack or REI backpack. This time Moses had to write on the tablets; he must have remembered his chisel (Exodus 34: 1, 28).
The stories of the Bible are filled with such strange, wonderful examples of exaggerated humor and insight. Sometime in our serious study, we miss the humor that also challenges us. Moses was the mediator, negotiating the God’s covenant with the people, a very difficult task yet that covenant is still in effect. I rejoice that Moses could climb the mountain and make it back down.
What stories in the Bible challenge your sense of humor as well as your life?
Lord Jesus, teach me to laugh as well as to learn.