Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Exodus 19:16-25 (NRSV)
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the LORD descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the LORD summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the LORD to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the LORD must consecrate themselves or the LORD will break out against them.” Moses said to the LORD, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’” The LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the LORD; otherwise he will break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Barbara Ehrenreich, an author and activist who also happens to be an atheist, uses the word something to describe a spiritual experience she had when she was seventeen. She writes in Living With a Wild God, “It was a furious encounter with a living substance.…‘Ecstasy’ would be the word for this, but only if you are willing to acknowledge that ecstasy does not occupy the same spectrum as happiness or euphoria, that it…can resemble an outbreak of violence.”
As you read the above verses from Exodus, what emotions or thoughts ran through your mind? Perhaps it was similar to the experience Ehrenreich described. Sometimes we fall into such a routine in our spiritual lives or speak of God only in certain ways in church that we forget who God truly is. God is the Holy Other who appeared to the Israelites with raw power and holy authority.
As you go through your day, remember the imagery and action of God in this passage. Also remember that God is capable, independent, and powerful. Be filled with the wonder of this God becoming human and walking, talking, and interacting with us. Finally, rejoice in the love of Jesus who was present with the God of thunder, smoke, and trumpets in Exodus and who willingly laid down his life on our behalf.
Lord of all creation, how truly holy you are! Forgive us for reducing you into terms we can control and manipulate. Remind us today of your independence from our thoughts and imaginations, and convict us of your holy love for your people and your world. Give us confidence to serve you well through faith in our Savior, Jesus. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Go with God.