Tag Archives: Exodus 24:12-18

Time to Listen

How much time do you have in your life?  I’m guessing not much.  It is a truism that things expand to fit the amount of time we have, we never seem to gain any time.  But sometimes in our busy, busy lives, we need to stop, take stock and listen.

This coming Sunday is the one before lent, which starts with Ash Wednesday on 5th March.  So this is an opportunity to prepare, to think how we are going to meet God anew in the journey towards Easter, to pause and reflect.

Exodus 24:12-18 (CEV)

Moses on Mount Sinai

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up on the mountain and stay here for a while. I will give you the two flat stones on which I have written the laws that my people must obey.” 13 Moses and Joshua his assistant got ready, then Moses started up the mountain to meet with God.

14 Moses had told the leaders, “Wait here until we come back. Aaron and Hur will be with you, and they can settle any arguments while we are away.”

15 When Moses went up on Mount Sinai, a cloud covered it, 16 and the bright glory of the Lord came down and stayed there. The cloud covered the mountain for six days, and on the seventh day the Lord told Moses to come into the cloud. 17-18 Moses did so and stayed there forty days and nights. To the people, the Lord’s glory looked like a blazing fire on top of the mountain.

God invites Moses to join him on the mountain, in his holy place.  But this isn’t for a jolly, a rest or just a special time with God (though undoubtedly it would have been that!), this is for Moses to hear God’s word, not just for himself, but for all the people.

Now, I’m sure God could have given his word to Moses where he was, without bringing him up the mountain, but maybe Moses wouldn’t have heard it in quite the same way.  Sometimes it is necessary to draw apart to hear what God is really saying; to intentionally focus on him with no distractions; to be where God is, alone with him.

And so it is with us.  Yes we can hear God in the everyday, and actually that is necessary, but sometimes we need to step apart, to specifically put aside some time and space to be with God, to hear what he is saying – not always just for ourselves.  Lent is an opportunity to take that time.  Whatever we do, or don’t do, during lent, it is an opportunity to set aside purposeful and intentional time with God.  If this isn’t the right time for you, and it may not be, then there needs to be a time to set aside, to have the space to listen purposefully to God.

Taking time out to listen to God can be scary – after all who knows what he will say or ask of us?  But it is vital for our well-being and our relationship with him.  What can I do, to take time out to listen to, and really hear, what God is saying?

Lord,
life is so busy,
so much to do,
often for you…

Yet,
you call to me
to come and stay a while,
to listen to you,
to hear what you are saying.

And so I come
and wait in your presence
and listen

To Be In Your Presence

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Laying down the Law

We are all taught as children that fire is dangerous.  It can cause much damage, destroy property, put lives at risk.  Anyone who has ever suffered even a small burn knows how painful it is, never mind the sights when bush fires ravish land so quickly.

Yet fire also has more positive uses:

Fire gets rid of rubbish

Fire sterilizes

It gives heat

It provides light

Fire changes things.  It causes a chemical reaction.

God invites Moses to come and meet with him, and to the Israelites the glory of God on the mountain looks like an all-consuming fire.  Moses goes into the presence of God, and he will be changed.

Of course this is not Moses first encounter with God and fire.  God had met him before in The Burning Bush.  God is running on a theme.

This time, Moses goes up to meet God to be given the tablets of stone that will have the law and commandments God has given for the people’s’ instruction.  These are not God’s whims, but the understanding of the one who made the world, of how it would best function.

They are there to change the nation:

  • To get rid of rubbish, if followed, only good will be left.  There is nothing like a bonfire to get rid of garden waste; setting fire is one secure way to get rid of any confidential papers, there is nothing left but ash.
  • To sterilise.  I remember needles being passed through flames to make them sterile for poking out splinters or the like (never to be advised!)  The heat removed the germs that couldn’t even be seen.
  • To give heat – who can resist a roaring fire?  And with the right chimney it warms the whole building.
  • To give light.  A fire will give light in a dark space, and as beacons have been used over the centuries to communicate.

God’s laws will do all of these in the world.  If followed there need be nothing that is wrong left, and strength will be renewed, and the whole world will have what it needs to get on.

Going into the fire to meet with God – it’s dangerous and life-enhancing.  Will we take the risk?  Will we let him get rid of the things that need to go, clean our lives from the bad things we may not even be able to see, warm us and give us light?

God invites us to come, to hear his words, to be changed.

Lord

as we gaze on the fire

and think of the flame,

we remember your calling

to us to come

to hear

and to receive.

May we let you change us

and transform us

as fire transforms.

May we know purification

and warmth

from you.

Shhh…

We live in a world of noise and bustle.  With 24 hour tv and radio, we need never be in silence.  With Twitter and Facebook, we can be told day and night what people are up to – whether we want to know or not.

Noise, noise, noise.

Yet so often our lives are so noisy, we miss the things we need to hear; we live so much on information overload that we miss the information we needed.  Sometimes we need to take a step back, and listen for what we really need to hear

This weeks lectionary readings point us to taking time out.

Moses is called by God to come up the mountain and spend some time with him.  To leave the community he was leading to take time and opportunity to hear what it was God needed to say to them all.  God is going to give him the laws his people needed.  Moses needed to spend time with God alone to receive them.

The gospel story is really amusing.  Jesus invites Peter, James and John to come with him, to go up the mountain where they can be alone together.  As they spend time together Jesus visibly changes, and two other figures appear – Moses and Elijah.

How awesome it must have been to be there in that presence – and Peter starts talking about building shelters.  What a ridiculous thing to do and say!  We all know those moments when someone feels they need to fill the silence.  But Peter has missed the point.  Nothing needs to be done.  There are no words to be said.  This is to be experienced.  And God has something to say.

When Peter does finally stop talking nonsense a cloud appears, envelopes them, and the voice of God gives this instruction to Peter, James, and John: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” That’s it. Very short. To the point.

God offers a special glimpse of who Jesus is and what he is about, and Peter is in danger of missing it, because he feels the need to say something.

Some times we just need to shut up!  We need not say anything, but gaze in awe and wonder at what God is, who Jesus is, and all that he offers to us.

Or there can be the wrong kind of quiet – the pain of isolation and loneliness.  God speaks into those moments too, and fills them with his presence.

 

As we come to the beginning of Lent it perhaps offers us that challenge – take take time in God’s presence.  We may feel guilty if we aren’t being busy, or doing the things we think we should be doing.  But we all need to take the time and make the effort to hear God.  There is a ministry in being still before God – for ourselves and others – to reflect the glory of God into a world too busy to stop or too disinterested to look for themselves.  We each of us need to take time, to stop, and to listen to God – or we may miss something he is trying to tell us.

 

So, as Jesus invites us into his presence, as God day by day reveals his glory to us – lets pause and gaze in awe and wonder.  Stopping to listen.

Lord,

I come to you,

rest in your presence

and wait.

As I take the time

to pause with you

may I hear clearly

what you have to say,

and be renewed.