“Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.” – Exodus 19:13b
What you just read from Exodus may be a verse you haven’t thought much about before. However, I think it is a very important verse that cannot go unnoticed. To set the stage for this verse; Moses and the people of Israel have just escaped the torture and slavery of Egypt. They have watched God deliver them through miraculous power and now they find themselves at the foot of Mount Sinai.
God is about to give the people the Law, the 10 commandments and just before this we find ourselves here, in chapter 19.
“And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their cloths and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” – Exodus 19:10-11
Here we see God telling the people to get prepared because he is about to visit them, in the sight of all people. Moses is told by the Lord to consecrate the people for two days, to wash their cloths, and be ready. Be ready for what? The presence of God to come on Mount Sinai. But is this safe?
“Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.” – Exodus 19:12
But when the rams horn was sounded then God said they could go up the mountain. It says THEY, but other than Moses, and Aaron no one else went up the mountain after the rams horn. They wanted Moses to go up for them. They did not want direct contact with God for fear of their lives.
“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” – Exodus 20:18-19
In case you missed it, the trumpet sounded meaning there was an invitation now open to go up the mountain, and everyone else was find letting Moses do it for them. “You go up the mountain and tell us what God is up to”, “I just want to hear from you, I can’t risk going up there myself.” What is it that you are saying?
‘Going up the mountain’ is being in the presence of God, and no one else went up. They wanted Moses to bring them down the word of God to them. They were not brave enough to go into God’s presence on their own. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was a certainty of their own unworthiness, being conscious of their sin, maybe it was disbelief, but whatever it was, they wanted someone else to go up the mountain for them.
“He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” – Luke 1:69
This is from the prayer of Zechariah and it echoes to a time when Isaac was to be sacrificed but God provided a ram caught in the thicket. God has raised up a Horn, Jesus, and his trumpet blast has been resounding throughout the last 2000 years. On the day of Jesus’ death, as part of Passover, the high priest would have blown the ram’s horn in the temple. At the moment of Jesus death the ram’s horn was blown. Consider this in relation to Exodus 19:13b.
As we start a 40 day time of fasting and praying, the call is for us as a congregation to go up the mountain ourselves. To not rely on someone else to bring us the word. To not rely on someone else to encounter God and bring Him to us, but for us to go up the mountain ourselves. To meet God face to face, to be in his presence, to hear him speak.
The ram’s horn has sounded, you may head on up the mountain.