“Beyond the mountain”. There are several thoughts that come to mind in regards to this concept. The first of these concerns the sequence of events that took place while our ancestors’ sojourned from Egypt to Mount Sinai. Having departed
on the 15th of the first month (Aviv, ref. Numbers 33:3), they
arrived at the wilderness of Sin on the 15th day of the second month
(ref. Exodus 16:1), where they rebelled against Moses because of lack of
food. After the miraculous appearance of the manna, and the ordinance of the Shabbat they moved on and camped in Rephidim,
where they once more complained, this time about water shortage and where they were also
attacked by the Amalekites (ref. Exodus 17:8).
Such a short time has elapsed, yet so many attacks, both from within and
from without! Is this a sign (for us) that the
enemy does not want us (too) to get to the ‘mountain of Torah’? There is no
mention of a departure date from Rephidim, but it is recorded that they arrived
in the wilderness of Sinai in the third month on the same day that they had left
Egypt, which was the 15th of the month. Although no details are specified as to where
they camped, it would appear from other references they were near the “ Egypt ”. Mountain of Elohim
Immediately upon their arrival, YHVH called Moses to come up to the mountain, so that He could deliver a message to His people. Notice that this took place before He descended upon the mountain in the great display of fire, earthquake and sounds. The introductory message delivered then, which from YHVH’s perspective has never changed, was an identity message (in addition to having already called them Israel, His firstborn nation while they were still in Egypt. Ref. Exodus 4:22).
“And Moses went up to Elohim, and YHVH called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of
. So Moses came and called for the elders of
the people, and laid before them all these words which YHVH commanded him. Then all the people answered together and
said, ‘All that YHVH has spoken we will do.’ So Moses brought back the
words of the people to YHVH” (Exodus 19:3-8 emphases added). Israel
YHVH then told Moses to consecrate the people, for in three days (which would have been the 18th of the third month) He would descend upon the mountain. In obedience they preformed all that they were charged with, washing their clothes and preparing themselves. Yet it appears that they were not really ready for what was about to take place. Having been used to gods or idols of some kind, it is no wonder that they became fearful at the sounds and sights that brought the Elohim of Israel from the unseen world into a reality that they could not even begin to relate to. Notice that their response to YHVH’s first message “we will do” (v. 8) changed after experiencing the awesome Presence and “seeing the voices” (according to the Hebrew) of the Almighty. Now they added “nish’ma – we will hear/obey” - but under the condition that Moses alone would address them (ref. Exodus 20:19). It is easy to say “we will do”, but that does not necessarily mean that the importance of obedience is recognized, because “doing” can also turn out to “doing it my way”.
This kind of mind set pretty much typifies religious systems in general, as we pick, choose, alter and ultimately make up our own rules and regulations, ones that we desire to follow. Thus YHVH’s instructions and commandments are being quickly laid aside, especially when we fail to live up to them. Throughout the history of
this has been, and indeed still is the case today. The main reason for failing is only realized
when we acknowledge and recognize the commandments of Elohim. It is through and
by the commandments that we arrive at the knowledge of sin, which is the power
that works in our heart causing us to rebel (see Romans 3:20). Israel
Elohim, of course, did not think for a moment that this mob-being-formed-into-a-people was capable of doing, hearing or even keeping any of His commandments, as He knew what was in their uncircumcised hearts. This is evidenced if comparison is made between the ordinance of Passover, just before their journey begins, and Moses’ speech toward the end of the journey. Let us lay those two side by side. "… It [keeping the Passover] shall be as a sign to you on your hand [that is, the “doing"] and as a memorial between your eyes [the thoughts and motives], that YHVH’s law may be in your mouth [speech]” (Exodus 13:9). However, in Deuteronomy 5:29 at the end of the 40 years journey, YHVH has this to say: ”Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments.” YHVH was obviously making an observation regarding the heart condition. Later on Moses adds: “Yet YHVH has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day” (Deuteronomy 29:4). These are but a few of the instances in which the true state of the heart and its motives were exposed during the wilderness journey.
It seems that as soon as our forefathers heard YHVH’s instructions, their response was to follow their own inclinations, not obeying or trusting His word. Let us go back to the Mountain and see if walking through the events will help us understand what YHVH’s intents were then and continue to be - applicable for us today so that we can move beyond Mount Sinai and take with us our true identity, as well as His instructions for a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.(to be continued)