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Heaven Meets Earth: A Reflection for Your Holiday

 
John Hindley | July 5th 2022

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance...”

9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

- Exodus 24:1, 9-11

In Scripture, mountains are often places where people meet God. Mount Zion, for example, is both a real place—the mountain on which Jerusalem (and the temple) was built—and an idea: a term to describe how God meets with and lives among his people. It’s also called Mount Moriah (Genesis 22)—the place where God provided a sacrifice in the place of Isaac.

When we see and climb hills, we sense that we are closer to heaven. I used to dismiss this feeling as silly; being higher up cannot make much difference given how very high heaven must be. Noticing the significance of mountains in the Bible, and the encounters that God has with his people on their summits, has made me rethink. We can think of ourselves as going up to God in prayer, praise and love; there’s a faithfulness in that. To climb a mountain can be a powerful reminder of Moses, Abraham and others doing the same as they went to meet God. And we can think of our Lord coming down to know us. We can have confidence that he will come down to meet us as we set our hearts on him.

To climb a mountain can be a powerful reminder of Moses, Abraham and others doing the same as they went to meet God.

A striking example of such a meeting is tucked away in Exodus 24. There is already an amazing closeness between God and his prophet Moses. In this meeting, though, the elders of Israel climb the mountain too.

It’s the culmination of God’s work in saving Israel from slavery in Egypt. Immediately before our verses, the Lord has committed himself to his people, and they have promised to obey the Lord and be faithful to him. Now the Lord calls the elders to come and feast in his great hall. They go up—and see God. They eat and drink with him. They go up the mountain and step into heaven; the gap is reduced to a single stride.

It was a special moment, not to be repeated. But standing on any mountain peak, between heaven and earth, should lift our eyes. It should remind us, above all, of the day when Jesus climbed up to Mount Zion, the mountain of his crucifixion. There God provided a feast of salvation for the world—a feast of bread and wine, a feast of his body and blood for us. Jesus climbed the hill to die for us, to take our guilt to heaven and to bring God’s forgiveness to earth.

One day—like Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel—we will go up and see Jesus, the God of Israel.

Standing on top of a mountain should remind us, then, that Jesus will come again to Mount Zion. On that day, he will come to it as the mountain of the Lord, the place of his return to earth, the venue for a greater feast (Zechariah 14:3-4; Acts 1:9-12; Revelation 19:6-10). One day—like Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel—we will go up and see Jesus, the God of Israel. Under his feet will be a floor as bright blue as the sky (Revelation 4:1-6). Our God will not raise his hand against us; we will see God, and we will eat and drink. We will be home and need never leave that mountain, that feast, or that love.

For Today

Before you climb the mountain, or as you look out over its grandeur, take time to pray that it will be a place where you will meet God. He won’t come down physically as he did for Moses and others, but you can go up in faith. Climb the mountain of the Lord (Hebrews 12 v 22-24). Christ has granted you to do so.

For the Family

Ask:

  1. What does it feel like when you are up a mountain or hill? Why do you think it feels that way?
  2. How could we use our hill walk today to help us worship God together?

Do:

As you climb today, if you have a step counter or phone app, why not keep an eye on how many steps you’re doing and stop every 1,000 steps to say a prayer (maybe with a small snack!)? Pray about what you’ve read in this study or simply say thank you. Pray that the Lord will draw you all closer to himself as you draw closer to the summit. If you have a way of measuring it, you could stop every 100 feet climbed instead—or just every half hour.

When you get home, see if you can find out how high you climbed and compare it with these mountains: Mount Everest: 29,032 feet above sea level. Mont Blanc: 15,774 feet. Mount Kilimanjaro: 19,341 feet. Mount Sinai: 7,497 feet. Mount Zion: 2,510 feet.

This is an extract from Refreshed by John Hindley, a book of 30 devotions designed to help you to rest in the Lord’s goodness and glory during your time away so that you can return home feeling refreshed spiritually as well as physically.

John Hindley

John Hindley is the pastor of BroadGrace church in Norfolk, UK and the author of the bestselling Serving without Sinking. He studied for ministry at Oak Hill College, and then co-founded The Plant church in Manchester before moving to Norfolk. John is married to Flick and they have three children.

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