“And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” -Exodus 24:17
It had only been 3 months since the people had watched in awe and fear as God smote the Egyptians–throwing down their gods with demonstrations of terrifying power. Now He was calling upon them prepare themselves so that they could “see” the Lord when planned to come down on Mount Sinai in three days to meet with them.
Now the moment had come, and I stood there at the base of the mountain when the presence of the Lord drew close and the men and women of Israel who stood among their tents suddenly realized that for all their outward attempts to cleanse themselves (the washing of their clothes, etc.), they were not clean on the inside. I understood their fear as I stood there in the vision and witnessed as the mountain seemed to be burning with the fire of God.
There was a great cloud of smoke from the burning which covered the mountain. The smoke was filled with thunder and lightning. Then the earth shook as a great horn sounded. Unlike when a man blows upon a horn and the sound of it fades as the man’s lungs begin to run out of air, this horn grew louder and louder. It was a great and terrible sound designed to instill fear into the heart of every enemy of God. And in that moment, the assembly was no longer sure if they were counted friend or foe.
In their sinful state, standing in the presence of a Holy God, they fell down, and cried out to Moses to make it stop. “Do not let God speak to us or we will die!!!” Moses tried to encourage them, but they would not have it. They did not believe him. They pleaded with him to go and meet with God on his own, and that they would then listen to what Moses told them about his experience when he got back, but they did not wish to see or hear the Lord directly.
I had always felt in my heart that if they would have been truly ready that day, that they would have seen the Lord Jesus that day. Was this the case? The vision before me was considerably more terrifying than the image of the gentle carpenter from Nazareth.
With great sadness Moses turned from the camp and walked into the cloud. It had always been in my heart that had I been given the opportunity, I would not turn away, even if it killed me. And here I was. The opportunity before me. But it was no easy thing. The words “great and terrible” echoed in my mind as I saw and felt for myself both the glory and the terror of the presence of God.
I committed to the action I intended to take, in my mind the thought spun round and round that to be holy you had to be changed by abiding in His presence. I began to walk into the cloud and as I came closer to the presence of God within my body shook, almost as if I were dying… in just the few steps I had taken (still outside the actual presence of God) I could feel his holy presence just on the other side and tears began to stream from my eyes. I stood there half way in and half way out, shaking. This I know. It is true that God is a refining fire.
I felt every part of me exposed — everything less than perfection shook and trembled. I wanted to be in His arms. I wanted to let it all burn away. I wanted to go, but was I ready? Would I survive the encounter? And just then, I thought, “This is only a vision… it is not real, I can back out of it if I need to. If I am not yet ready.”
In the past, I had always criticized others in my heart when people had experiences with God where they asked Him to stop because they couldn’t take any more. I always said to myself that I would never ask Him to stop, even if it killed me. But I was aware that my physical body was actually shaking, and I was having a hard time catching my breath, and I wasn’t sure what would happen.
I was crying. I was stuck between two worlds. And it was so much to take. I was no Moses, after all. I was not ready. I stepped back from the vision and my head fell back to rest in the chair I was seated in as my breathing returned to normal and the quaking in my body ceased.
As the vision ended I was aware of the great sadness that God felt that His people Israel, his Bride, was afraid and did not wish to meet with Him.
In my mind, as I considered the great mountain and the smoke and lightning, that we were like a small and frightened kitten who had been abused and neglected, and how God was like a kind person who sees the animal and has compassion for it, and only desires to rescue it, bring it home, treat its injuries, give it shelter, food, and love… but the kitten flees from its would-be rescuer, being frightened and not understand.
How much higher are God’s ways and thoughts than ours? Oh, merciful God… when will we learn to stop running and fully trust you? I praise you oh Holy One of Israel. We need you, we know not how much!
– Vision on February 28, 2019 by Anonymous