Thunder, Fire, Smoke and Trumpets
There is a staggering moment in Exodus 19 and 20 when God speaks to all of Israel and issues the frame-work of living for all of civilisation. It’s a moment in Scripture that would be amazing on screen as God reveals Himself to a company of weak people through the presence of Mount Sinai. The mountain is literally billowing with smoke and fire (19:16-18) and thunder and lightening frame the scene as Moses climbs to meet with God in the thick darkness.
It’s a scene that is difficult to take in because the pervasive feeling is that the Israelites (near the foot of the mountain) are unsafe – that they are in harm’s way because of the shoe-removing holiness of the scene and the sacredness of what’s happening. We don’t feel unsafe in worship and neither are we. But we are standing before a God who can make Mount Everest burn with fire and billow smoke like a furnace…daily we stand in places like this because of grace. And we are invited to climb!
Break Through to Break Out
God warns Moses that the Israelites don’t break through and touch the foot of the mountain incase He breaks out amongst them and kills them – such is the AWESOMENESS of His holiness and His presence. There is a reality of God’s holiness that we are barely aware of. There is a reality of His presence that we can barely imagine. BUT, unlike these Hebrews, we are invited to break through into His reality and taste and see…that God would break out amongst us.
(Definition of rivet (verb): “to secure; to hold firmly, as in eyes; to engross; to fascinate”)
This holy breaking-out of God in our lives, churches, communities, cities and Nations (ethne) is for the riveting of our eyes….the eyes of our heart. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God, says Jesus. And through all this smoke and fire and thunder claps and trumpet blasts is the invitation to be fixed on God – to be fascinated with Him through temptation and trial and comforted by Him in turmoil and loneliness…to be riveted on Him for the prospering of our souls.
God tells Moses in the next chapter that the purpose of the fear of the Lord is that they wouldn’t sin. The riveting of their hearts on a God of such might and power meant that they wouldn’t sin.
Being riveted on God = not sinning. Being riveted on God = the breaking out of His gracious power and presence. Being riveted on God = Nations being swept up in the God who effortlessly paints scenes like in Exodus 19 and 20.
Imagine the invitation to reach out and touch….(Please see Hebrews 12:8)