As I read today’s passage concerning Moses coming down from the mountain with the re-made tablets containing the Ten Commandments, I was reminded of a scene from the Mel Brooks movie “The History of the World Part 1”. Moses, played by Brooks, has just come down from Mount Sinai carrying three stone templates. As he begins to introduce the Law God has just given, the character says “The Lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen…”, at which point he drops one of the tables. Seeing the crumbled tablet at his feet he says “Oy…ten! Ten commandments! For all to obey!”
For me this is funny on many levels, but I was reminded of this gag because in today’s passage Moses has been provided with his second set of commandments. If you’ll remember, when Moses came down from the mountain the first time with the Ten Commandments he saw that the people had turned their backs on God and worshipped an idol – a golden calf. In his anger Moses threw the original tablets to the ground destroying them. So what we have in our reading today is a new beginning and this reminds me of my own spiritual growth.
I have grown in fits and starts. I wonder if this has been your experience as well. There have been times where I have felt exceedingly close to God and things have just been wonderful. In those times it didn’t matter what was going on in my life, I was content no matter what. Other times, and I’m afraid such times are longer and more frequent, I have felt far from God, consumed with myself and discontented with my life. It seems to me the more I am focused on myself, the more miserable I become; the more focused on God, the more joyful I become. Some Christians refer to our times of closeness with God as “mountaintop” experiences.
I remember one of my “mountaintop” periods. I was content with everything. I was at peace, and things that previously had been cause for discontent were viewed as blessings. Evidently my contentment in the Lord was something that shown from my face. One Sunday night we had a missionary come and speak to the church. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but for some reason most people like to sit toward the back of the church. I’m not sure if they are afraid of the preacher or too lazy to walk down to the front, but that night I went down and sat in the second row.
As the missionary shared his experience I felt myself enjoying his presentation. I grinned from ear to ear as I heard of his work. After his presentation I went over to thank him for coming to speak with us and he said something strange to me. He thanked me for being a responsive and encouraging audience and then gave me the greatest compliment I have ever received. Having no knowledge of me prior to this moment, he told me my face radiated with peace and joy and that he saw Jesus in my countenance. Can a Christian ever hope to hear a greater compliment? Brothers, when we are in right relationship with God, when we put Him first and eagerly wait upon Him, His presence shines from within us. Don’t believe me? Look at what happened to Moses as he waited upon the Lord and grew ever closer to Him.
Exodus 34:29 ESV
“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”
Exodus 34:34-35 ESV
“ Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded,  the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”
Men, we are to glorify God. We cannot do this separated from Him. We glorify Him when we let His glory shine from within. The path toward such incredible spiritual maturity begins by submitting our lives to Christ. We progress down that path as we learn to deny ourselves and our selfish desires. Our journey accelerates as God possesses more and more of our time and focus; in other words, as He takes over more of our heart.
For years I struggled to force myself to read God’s Holy Word every day. I knew His word was essential spiritual food that I desperately needed, but creating the necessary daily habit eluded me. I eventually started this blog as a mechanism to force me to be in God’s Word daily. Of late, God has been convicting me of my need for a deeper and richer prayer life. This is the next step on my journey toward spiritual maturity. To grow more I must be closer to my Lord. I cannot continue to put the things of this life ahead of my relationship with God. I must put first things first. This begs the question, what are my first things. If my first things are the things of God then I must put them first. I must push the things of this world further aside as I pull the things of God ever closer.
What about you brother? What is the next step in your spiritual growth? What must you do today to take your next step closer to God? Is it more consistency in Bible reading? Is it a deeper, richer prayer life? Is it simply letting go of your desires for worldly gain and pleasure? The way to know is to fall on your knees in prayer and ask God to open your heart and mind to the step He would have you take. Identify that step and then take it. Put first things first and let others see His light shine from you. Oh, and enjoy the mountaintop!