Tag Archives: Mt. Horeb

Mountain Voices

Elijah, in a spiritual funk, ran away from Queen Jezebel to the mountain of God. Called Horeb by the northern tribes of Israel, it is the same mountain where Moses received the 10 commandments and saw the back side of God (Exodus 33). Moses had hid in a cleft in the rock when God passed by and scholars think it was this cleft or cave to which Elijah ran.  In this high place God was sure to meet him (I Kings 19).

Israel is a hilly country, with deep valley and high craggy peaks. The high places were often used for worship, whether for idols or for the Lord. Solomon’s Temple was built on Mt. Zion. Elijah confronted the priest of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Jesus preached his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5).  The most significant high place was a hill outside Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified.

Atop Hallett Peak in RMNP

Mountains have always been associated with holiness and transcendence. They reach towards the heavens and can give a person a unique perspective on the world. I have been drawn to mountain peaks since boyhood, looking up at either Mt. Angeles or Mt. Rainier. Last summer I climbed Hallett Peak in Colorado as a kind of spiritual exercise in prayer.

But as Elijah discovered, God is not restricted to mountain peaks. Though Elijah experienced a dramatic sequence of wind, earthquake and fire, God was not in the dramatic. It was in the sheer silence that followed where Elijah heard God speak. This silence can be found anywhere, in the deepest valley as well as the loftiest peak. We seek a holy space where the ears of our souls yearn for simple assuring voice of God. And “voice” may not be the right word, more like presence, peace, hope, like a mother’s calm shush that ease’s a baby cries. As a child of God, I still yearn for that quiet, assuring voice of God’s grace.

God’s “voice” gives us the assurance to carry on the journey. Elijah did not stay on the mountain, but turned around and went back to face Queen Jezebel. More on that tomorrow.

Lord Jesus, quiet my noisy life that I may hear your loving voice.

You Are In the Story

A big question for many Bible readers is “Where do I fit in?” The Bible feels like ancient history about long-dead people. In Deuteronomy chapter five, Moses spoke to this concern. The people of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. The generation that had experienced the exodus of Egypt had died; a new generation had been born during the wilderness journey. The new generation had heard the stories of the Exodus, Mt. Sinai (also called Mt. Horeb), the Ten Commandments, and Moses, but they did not directly experience these events. Or did they?

Moses spoke to the new generation regarding this:

The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the fire. (At that time I was standing between the Lord and you to declare to you the words of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. (Deut 5:2-7)

Please note that second sentence, Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. Moses made the audacious claim that the covenant at Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai) was for us alive today. God’s covenant includes YOU and ME. This is not some ancient story, but an ongoing relationship with God.

This is critical reason for walking through the whole story of scripture. It is our story, our identity, our connection to God, the creator and savior. We are the ones who are in danger of making false gods. We are the ones who forget the gift of Sabbath or dishonor our parents. The Ten Commandments address us today. Do we have ears to hear?

Which stories in the Bible have become YOUR story? Which stories challenge or pull you in?

Lord Jesus, speak your Word that it may become my word of life.