Opening illustration: A lady was out hitting all the local garage sales when she came across an old needlepoint picture that read, “Prayer Changes Lives.” She bought it, took it home and began to look for just the right place to hang the new picture. Finally, she decided that it went well in the dinning room over the dinning room table. With great pride she admired her garage sale discovery and could hardly wait to show it to her husband. That evening when her husband arrived home from work, she showed the picture to him but he made no indication one way or another of his likes or dislikes of the new picture. The next day as the lady was cleaning the house, she discovered that the new picture was gone. As she continued to clean the house, she discovered the picture behind a bookcase. She thought, “That’s strange,” and re-hung the picture in its original location. The next day, to her dismay, she discovers the picture gone again and again discovers it behind the bookcase. When the husband arrives home, she confronts her husband and asks him if he is displeased with the art of the needlepoint, to which he responds, no, not at all, it is a great work of art. She continues, is it the place? Do you not like the place it is hung? He says, no, not at all, it is in a great location. She concludes that it must be the message and asks him if it’s the message that he doesn’t like. He says, no, not at all, the message is great. Finally, she says, then what’s the problem? He says, “I just don’t like change.”
Let us see from God’s Word that whenever the Israelites encountered Mt. Horeb (the mountain of God) God expected them to undergo a transformation. Many incidents, great and small happened here. But in all those situations and circumstances, they never underwent a change of heart. Today we all may be in the same situation as the Israelites but God has yet to see that transformation in our hearts and lives. The new in-coming President has promised the nation a change for the future. Time will tell whether it will be for the good or worse. On Tuesday we all will witness him take the top most office in the US. In the meantime let us see what God’s Word teaches us about change and how God continually gives us “Opportunities to Transform.”
Introduction: Horeb (a.k.a. Sinai, and the Mountain of God) is the mountain where Moses fasted for two times forty days back to back, as he receives the Law. Later the prophet Elijah also spends forty days fasting on Horeb (1 Kings 19:8), after which he has his famous conversation with God in the cave (19:9-18).
The name Horeb comes from (hareb 731) meaning to dry up, be in ruins, lay waste. This verb sounds very negative and it is so, most of the time, but it all depends from which angle we look. Looking from the memory of a beautiful city, waste land is much worthy of lament (Jeremiah). Looking from the face of the deep however, the first signs of dry land is reason to be exceedingly glad. (Genesis 8:13). The word (horeb 731b,c) is a derivative that means dryness, desolation. Yet from mount Horeb come many blessings for the parched land (Ex 3:1-22; Ex 17:6; Mal 4:4; Deut 29:1; 1 Kings 19).
Event Reference Application
1 God appears to Moses in the burning bush and chooses him to free the Israelites
(Moses was trained in the palace to serve God in the desert) Exodus 3: 1 – 22
[v. 12 ~ promise]
• God in the fire ~ chooses Moses
• The Great I AM ~ Moses makes excuses
• God gives him a sign [serve God on the Mts. Hears the cry of the Israelites]
2 God provides water for the Israelites and quenches their thirst [physical need] Exodus 17: 1 – 6 • Israelites are thirsty ~ tempt God
• Murmur against Moses ~ He cries to the Lord
• God meets their physical need
3 God gives the Laws to Moses for the people Deuteronomy 5: 2 Malachi 4: 4 • Moses receives God’s Laws on behalf of the Israelites
4 Israelites sin against God and make God angry Deuteronomy 9: 8, 9
Psalm 106: 19 • Israelites make a golden calf and worship it
• Wrong choices ~ Deut. 5: 7 [1st law is broken] Always make choice with God’s consent [friends, spouse, jobs]
5 Israelites ask for forgiveness
[God puts us in a situation where we have to completely breakdown & surrender] Exodus 33: 1 – 7
[v. 6] • God doesn’t want to go with the Israelites, fearing He may consume them
• Israelites mourn because God is angry ~ stripping themselves of their ornaments
6 Elijah meets God ~
God asks ~
‘What are you doing here?’
What are WE doing HERE? 1 Kings 19: 1 – 18 (v. 8)
Vs. 9 & 13 • Elijah hides from Jezebel [who wants to kill him] for 40 days
• God asks him ‘What he was doing there?’
• Elijah asks God to take away his life ~ depressed [panic / depressive attacks]
7 God makes a covenant with the Israelites Deuteronomy 5: 2; 29: 1, 13, 15
Ref: Jeremiah 31: 33, 34 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ’Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
8 Reflection God wants to make this covenant with us ~ Are we ready?
Illustration: David Livingstone went to darkest Africa as a lone missionary. After some time his missions committee wrote to him saying, "Some people would like to join you. What’s the easiest road to get where you are?" He replied, "If they’re looking for the easiest road, tell them to stay in England. I want people who will come, even if there’s no road at all!" Sometimes the pathway of the Christian life appears to change from a smooth-surfaced road to a stony track or peter out altogether.
Where are we standing today? Possibly on crossroads!
• Are we still continuing to murmur like the Israelites?
• Are we discouraged like Elijah?
• Are we making excuses like Moses?
• Are we willing to humble ourselves, ask for forgiveness – for the Lord is waiting to make a covenant with us?
He wants to forgive and forget all our sins.
He wants to be our God and we be His people.
The Israelites encountered Mt. Horeb [Mt. of God] a number of times in their lives. We may be encountering Horeb(s) continually in our lives but have remained unchanged [not transformed].
Are you willing to do it today and let it stay that way till our Lord comes? The choice is yours. Live churches constantly change; - dead churches resist and refuse change.