Summary: Encourage the church to ascend the mountain of prayer for 40 days like Moses did.
[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)