Since the days of Moses, there has been an impression that the higher up you are in elevation, the closer you are to God. As a former skier, being in the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in the middle of winter is a clear sign of God’s creation, Romans 1:18-20. Looking down from the top of any cliff is intimidating. Yet, as someone who climbed the Blue Ridge Mountains during Christian retreats in college, I have felt God’s presence while on a vast and lofty mountain.
Now all the people perceived the thunderings and the lightnings and the noise of the trumpet and the smoking mountain, and as [they] looked they trembled with fear and fell back and stood afar off. 19 And they said to Moses, You speak to us and we will listen, but let not God speak to us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said to the people, Fear not; for God has come to prove you, so that the [reverential] fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin. 21 And the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was, Exodus 20:18-21.
I grew up in a church where the wrath of God in the Old Testament was emphasized. Meanwhile, God’s grace and the love of Jesus in the New Testament was rarely featured. Subsequently, I felt like the Israelites in the passage above, dwelling on God the disciplinarian. Fearing God is one thing, but thinking you’ll be punished each time you make an error or mistake is emotionally draining. Thus, God was too holy for me, far away on a vast and lofty mountain.
Then in the Spirit He conveyed me away to a vast and lofty mountain and exhibited to me the holy (hallowed, consecrated) city of Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, Revelation 21:10.
When I became a high school Bible teacher, this ungodly belief slowly faded away. From time to time, this unworthy feeling would consume my soul, but the Holy Spirit set me free from this clouded and distorted view of God. I can’t point to the exact moment when this was flushed from my memory, but God’s grace paved the way to transform my mind. If this blog finds you in a similar place where I once was, may you find the confidence in the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6-7.
by Jay Mankus