“The LORD said to Moses, “Come
up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the
tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have
written for their instruction.”
I cannot disguise, and there is no use trying, that this Old Testament passage is a prelude to Jesus going up the mountain and conferring with Elijah and – yes – Moses. Moses was no stranger to “mountain top” experiences. And Elijah was no stranger to hearing and conferring with the Divine. The delivering of the Ten Commandments ties back to last week’s verses, almost as if it was part of a plan – which it was! The Revised Common Lectionary can be very deliberate about leading the reading through the events and experiences of the bible.
“So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” (Verses 13 – 14)
difference and divergence of the Transfiguration versus Moses going
up the mountain is that Jesus brought along some of his disciples.
What was shrouded in secrecy in Moses’ time was done openly in Jesus’
time. It was the great “reveal” that heralded Jesus’ mission
coming to an end. Much the way the lectionary uses it to herald the
coming of Easter, umm, which it was.
“Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud.” (Verses 15 -16)
I have to wonder, why the difference? Let’s think this through beloved reader. We know (and I said last week) that the Israelites fresh out of Egypt were being re-acquainted with the faith that the forebearers held dear. It was their life-blood and the reason they endured all that happened to them. Now, the interlude in Egypt seems to me to have been a time that they went from being a small group of people to being a large group of people. And a time when what they believed was in opposition to the larger group around them, the Egyptian. And part of the fear that the Pharaohs’ had was that Hebrews were becoming a large group and presence that were not under control the same way your average Egyptian peasant was. Taming the Hebrews involved great punishment and suffering, and the Divine heard their calls and pleas for help, and developed Moses into their rescuer. But just because they remained faithful to the faith of Abraham did not mean they could live out that faith on their own. Hence the Ten Commandments, and the other rules that were sent down in the Torah.
let us turn to the Jews of Jesus’ time. Persecution, capture, being
conquered, and oppression had not taught the Jews how to be faithful
followers either – at least not on a nationwide level. But this
time, instead of rescuers and prophets, the Divine has sent the
Godself in the form of Jesus. And what was shrouded and veiled was
now out in the open. In fact, the apostle Paul says basically the
same thing – come to think of it.
“Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” (Verse 17)
is another difference. To the people waiting down below for Moses,
the glory of the Lord was fiery and fierce. Jesus, however for the
most part, was gentle and welcoming. It seems odd, but it is true
that the Christian faith taken as a whole since Abram was called out
from Ur has been like the growth and development of a child. At first
the teaching was stern to set down the lessons, establish
expectations, and set boundaries – as if teaching a wayward child.
Later the teaching was gentle and yielding, explaining and promoting
understanding as if teaching a child/youth who has come to the stage
of reasoning. What, I have to ask, is the development stage of the
Christian faith now?
“Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.” (Verse 18)
It takes time, beloved reader, to learn how one out to live; it takes time. Moses was on the mountain forty days being taught, I assume, the intent of the Ten Commandments. I have to wonder about that – the effectiveness of the lessons and whether it was passed on. Jesus was in the desert for forty days, being refined himself. And made ready to teach his disciples the lessons that were needed. And yes, I have questions also as to whether those lessons that were taught so well to the disciples have come down to the present generation as Jesus intended.
What I take away from all of this, beloved reader, is that transformation can take place in our lives. Moses, it was said, was transformed developing a glow he kept veiled. Jesus was transformed and did not hide it from his disciples. And we, beloved reader, are to be transformed also. And we are to show this transformation, like a lighted city on a hill.
As we draw near to Lent, let us consider how our lives have been transformed and transfigure, and what our life looks like to the world. Let us compare that to what our life should look life, and if further change, transformation and transfiguration is needed. And let us determine, for our own self, what we can do better. Selah!