Exodus 24:9-11--Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders, and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself. God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank.
Perhaps this is one of the most amazing yet obscure stories in the Bible. Seventy-four men on God’s invitation, partially climbed Mount Sinai, saw the Lord and ate and drank with Him. We surmise from 24:1 that they fellowshipped at a distance. Later in Exodus 33:20, the Lord said to Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.” So we also know that these men saw only a part of God and not His face.
It was important to God to build in the spiritual lives of Israel’s leaders His own authority and presence. There is no other example of God corporately permitting people in His presence in the Old Testament. But what most amazes me about this story is what happens just a month or so later. While Moses remained on the mountain receiving God’s laws, the people grew restless. In Exodus chapter 32 we find Aaron appeasing their desire to make idols by fashioning them a golden calf. How could this happen? Aaron, his two sons and the 70 elders witnessed miraculous deliverance from Egypt. They had just beheld the glorious presence of the Almighty God. How could they now allow the people to forsake Him?
If there is a lesson in this story it is clear that we can never assume that our spiritual life will be strong on the basis of our mountain-inspired experiences. What the presence of God did for us yesterday is no guarantee of how we will act today. When we descend into the valley, the temptation is to rest on what we knew on the mountain. That will not sustain us when the crowd grows restless and we are envious that someone else is getting cloud-time.
Spiritual life must constantly be nourished. Growth is not achieved by memories! It is gained through the steady study and application of God’s Word. It is nourished by quality time communicating with Him. Jesus never said to His disciples, “Your faithfulness was great last week! You can take a break now. If you feel like following Me, when it’s good for you, come on!” No! He told them, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it” (Luke 9:23,24).
Losing my life means refusing to glory from what happened before, placing no value in position and no merit in haphazard obedience. It means I fix my eyes on Jesus today, this moment, and the next . . .
Had seventy-three elders daily worshiped God in the valley no crowd would have intimidated them, no calf would have been crafted, and Moses would not have shamefully discovered a revelry of crass proportions so sickening that he smashed the very commandments God carved in stone in heart-burning anger.
Is your spiritual life deeper today or are you living contented with the memories of your last great supper?
The test of spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, there is something wrong.—Oswald Chambers in The Ministry of the Unnoticed
©2006 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)