The phrase “Be careful to build it just as you were shown on the mountain,” occurs in one form or another 3 times in Exodus 25-27 (NLT). The word “must” in the NLT shows up 162 times in Exodus (mas o menos). 12 of those times are between chapters 25-27. In other words, God is not playing around with His instructions! He is specific and expected specific results to His standards! I would love to go into all the rituals and meanings of the Ark and the Table and the dwelling place of God between the cherubim, but for the purposes of this blog post, we will focus on the fact that Moses had to “remove” himself from the well meaning, but perhaps often misled Israelite base camp in order to experience God in a way that would not only change himself, but a nation and the world! He had to get away from the distractions of life.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a youth camp or a retreat and had an experience with the very real, manifest presence of God, but He has been known to radically change and transform hearts and minds in the matter of moments in those places! Please allow me to share a few of my experiences where God transformed me and revealed some life-guiding visions. Disclaimer: I do not profess that a “mountain top experience” with God is the basis of maturity for a Christian, but rather is an important part to one’s journey in the Spirit of God, just as it was for Moses and the Israelites.
At Pinecrest Winter Camp in Southern California, at the age of 13, the Lord showed me that my life would be spent helping people, so I studied science/Anatomy-Physiology courses throughout High School and was a pre-med/Biology major for 3.5 years in college, all the while expecting to “help people” by way of being a physician. That is until God called me to be a physician of the soul. When I got home from that same camp, I wanted to serve my family, obey my parents, and live at peace with everybody around me…I was a new “man”. My mom had wondered “where her son had gone”, not that I was a horrible kid previously, but you understand ☺. God began a work in me that He is still perfecting to this day! At the age of 18, God downloaded His Spirit into me in such a way that I had to “preach” the good news of Christ’s Salvation to everybody. I would go stand on my old High School’s street corner and load kids in the back of my truck and take them to youth group on Wednesday night, back when you could do things like that ☺. In short, God revealed Himself to me in such a way “on the mountain”, that my daily activities in the valley had to change, according to His standards, and not my own… “be careful to build just as you were shown on the mountain…”
The mountain was never meant to be the place where we humans stay. That’s God’s dwelling place. But oh the moments when He let’s us on the mountain, and to even dine with Him (Ex. 24:11)! Its there that God reveals specific, even beautiful things to us. At first glance, these measurements for the Tabernacle and its contents, including the Ark of the Covenant seem a bit overwhelming to me. Like the instructions for my girls’ dresser I had to put together. Eventually, I grew weary of looking at the different screws that looked the same on the paper, but were different in the real world! But, despite my frustrations, with the immaculate details presented by the folks from Target, after it made its trip through China, I found that without the instructions, I was done for!
In the same way, God has given you specific details for your life’s purpose! What were those from a young age when you were on the mountain once upon a time, long ago? Perhaps He’s telling you to go on the mountain NOW in order to receive those instructions! Look around you. Look at your church. Is there a Men’s, or Women’s, or Couple’s or Youth retreat you KNOW you’re supposed to go on so God can get you out of the noise long enough to be able to speak to you clearly?? Its not just for YOUR destiny, but the destinies of those you will impact, all because you chose to go on the mountain, dine with the Living God, and follow His instructions as HE gave them to you.
As the NCC Staff & Leadership prepare for Leadership retreat, I wonder, “what do You want to reveal to us individually and corporately God? What life-changing decisions MUST we face in order to follow You better and lead Your church in the specific and right direction You have for us?” Please keep us in prayer bout that. Until He returns, none of us, including Pastors and church Leaders, are done with experiencing God “on the mountain”, because sometimes that’s the only place we will actually listen to what He’s been saying all along in the “valley”.