[S] “At that time the Lord said to me, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Also make a wooden chest. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the chest.
So I made the ark out of acacia wood and chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hands. The Lord wrote on these tablets what he had written before, the Ten Commandments he had proclaimed to you on the mountain, out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. Then I came back down the mountain and put the tablets in the ark I had made, as the Lord commanded me, and they are there now…Now I stayed on the mountain forty days and nights, as I did the first time, and the Lord listened to me at this time also. It was not his will to destroy you. Go, the Lord said to me, and lead the people on their way, so that they may enter and possess the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” (Dt 10.1-5, 10-11, NIV) [S]
The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
This passage reveals something very important that some people tend forget while others downplay. And that is that God does some pretty incredible things when people give themselves to Him through prayer. I like what Oswald Chambers said about prayer, “Prayer doesn’t prepare us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.”
For example, in this passage we learn that Moses prayed for 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai, not once, but twice. And in both situations God did something worth noting.
The first 40 days of prayer is recorded in Exodus 24-33. Moses ascends the mountain to spend some time seeking God. I don’t know that he knew it would be 40 days, but he obviously expected to be gone for awhile because he left his brother Aaron in charge of the community. God revealed much to Moses during those 40 days, but the two most noteworthy items were the creation of and the instructions for building the Tabernacle and the giving of the Ten Commandments. Both of these are very significant.
[S] The Tabernacle was going to be the place where God would dwell. No longer would Moses and the people have to ascend the mountain to have an audience with him. God would be in their midst. With the introduction of the Tabernacle God was saying he was moving in to their neighborhood. God was going to take up residence with them. God was identifying himself with these people. He would be there God and they would be his special people.
[S] In addition to receiving the instruction for the Tabernacle, Moses also received the Ten Commandments. A covenant originated by God that spelled out the arrangements associated with the relationship between God and Israel, and Israel and each other. The significance of The Ten Words cannot be exaggerated. Their influence is felt around the world. The Commandments form the basis of justice and law and right relations for many nations.
After receiving the Commandments Moses prepares to return to camp when Adonai becomes very angry. You’ve heard the phrase, “while the cat’s away the mice will play?” Well, the people had grown weary of waiting on Moses and assumed he might even be dead. And so they took matters into their own hands and made the decision to worship and follow another god instead of Adonai. God was ready to discipline and punish them severely when Moses convinces God to hold off. It couldn’t be that bad, after all, he had left his brother Aaron in charge. Everything would be okay. But when Moses returned and saw the people worshiping the golden calf he lost it. He was so mad that he threw the stone tablets of the Covenant to the ground breaking it into chunks. The covenant was broken. This type of behavior was not to be tolerated especially after all God had done for them. Severe discipline and punishment followed.
[S] Not too long after this Moses ascended the mountain to spend another 40 days in prayer seeking God. This time however he spends some of it seeking God’s mercy on behalf of the people. He pleads for God not to abandon them in the desert. He begs God not turn his back on them and leave them in the desert alone. He implores God to give them another chance at the covenant he had originally made. [S] Moved by Moses’ sacrificial praying, God said, “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.” (Exodus 34.10, NIV)
[S] And then God sets his Covenant with the Israelites in stone again and gives it to Moses to take to the people.
This time the people were waiting expectantly. When Moses appeared and they saw him carrying God’s covenant they knew that God had forgiven them and was willing to give them another chance. The fear that God would leave them was replaced with a sense of joy and celebration. Moses walks into camp greeted by a repentant people with open arms and open ears to hear what God had to say to them this time. So Moses gathered the people and told them all that God had revealed to him. The Ten Commandments, plus other oral laws along with the passing on of the details of what the Tabernacle should be made of and how it should be constructed.
Now, we might not get very excited about what God had to say regarding the colors of the fabric in the Tabernacle and how many posts were needed and how many rings were needed to hang the curtains. We might check our phones for text messages instead of listening to how many altars there were to be and what the priest’s garments would look like, but not them. What Moses was telling them was remarkable. God was committed to them and to prove it God was moving onto their cul de sac. What they heard from Moses was that Adonai had not given up on them and that changed everything for them. As long as they remained faithful to their end of the covenant God would remain faithful to His.
[S] I think God is saying something to us through Moses and the Israelites when it comes to praying. God wants us to know that God is a God of prayer. God wants us to seek him. God wants to see where our affections truly lie. God wants to see where He stands in our lives. God wants us to know that all it takes for God to turn something around is for his people to pray. God is calling us to ascend the Mountain of Prayer.
One of our guiding goals for this year is to become a church made up of prayer centered and prayer driven Christ followers. And to help us succeed at this the Prayer Initiative Task Force has designated the season of Lent for 40 days of prayer. The goal is that we will have someone representing all of us praying every hour of every day around the clock beginning Sunday March 7 concluding on Easter.
The Prayer Team is going act like a trail guide on our climb. And the way they’ll do this is by offering several helps. First, everyone who participates will be given a prayer guide to follow every week. I think you will be very surprised at you will be able to pray an hour and that it went quicker than you ever thought. You’ll also discover how refreshing and renewing it was to your soul and you feel very satisfied knowing that you accomplished a major mile stone in your life as a disciple of Christ. You can spend your time in prayer in the chapel during church office hours, pray in your home, or pray in the [S] “trailernacle”. The “trailernacle” is a travel trailer that fulfills the role of The Tabernacle. It will be parked in the parking lot and will be set up with several different prayer stations that will provide you with more than enough suggestions on how to fill your hour and will be available 24/7.
[S] I believe that these 40 days of prayer are going to play a very important role in who or what this church becomes in the future. I think this is going to be a breakpoint, deciding point, or turning point for this church. I believe it will impact whether or not relationships with God are restored, whether or not we’re able to connect new people with Christ Jesus, and whether or not relationships among God’s people are healed and restored or move into a more destructive pattern. I believe that what happens during Lent will impact the degree we experience of God’s mercy and his corresponding blessing and favor. I think there is a lot at stake.
Imagine if Moses would have said, “I don’t have an hour to spare.” “What would the people think about me leaving my responsibilities?” “What about the honey do list my wife has for me that she’s been after?” “I don’t have time for this.” Imagine how different the outcome could have been if Moses had decided not to ascend Prayer Mountain. The people would have been left alone in the dessert without their God. Moses would have been just another nomad wandering the desert with a bitter an ungrateful community never to be heard from again. They never would have entered into the Promise Land or fulfilled their God directed destiny. They wouldn’t have known the blessing of God. And that means that our story might never have been written.
God redeemed and shaped a community that then shaped and transformed the world because one person was willing to ascend Prayer Mountain and engage God for 40 days and nights. Imagine how God might respond to a church where He sees Christ followers sacrificing a little and pulling a few muscles or getting a few blisters trying ascend Prayer Mountain like Moses did. I think there would be more peace, more love, more grace, more healing, more blessing, more forgiveness, more health, more power, more holiness, more godliness, new hearts and new life. Will that be our story? That depends on who ascends Prayer Mountain.