I love the mountains. Doesn't matter if it’s to hunt, fish, walk, or sit - I just love hanging out in mountainous terrain. I’ve spent hundreds of hours climbing hills, hiking majestic peaks, and sitting in lush valleys, reflecting, relaxing, and rejuvenating my inner person. If you’ve never sat at the edge of a 13,000 feet mountain peak on a clear, sunny day, looking over forests, rivers, lakes, and valleys - well, let’s just say your bucket list is unfinished.
I remember the day several years ago while hunting elk in Colorado. Actually, I wasn’t elk hunting; I was “place hunting.” I had walked an hour or so from the truck when I rounded a turn, crested a hill, and...there it was. Several hundred yards below me was a gorgeous stream. Across the stream was a beautiful green meadow, covered with flowers, leading up into a golden aspen forest. Indescribable beauty! Almost surreal. Well, this is it, I thought. The hunt is over. I couldn’t find a better place to sit and talk to God.
“How’s it going today, Abba?” I asked. “It sure is great to be together here in this amazing, majestic setting.”
I sat there for a while thinking and conversing with Dad, just enjoying the pleasure of His company. After an hour or so, I heard the unmistakable screech of a Golden Eagle. Sure enough, there it was, soaring right in front of me - gliding, dipping, flying over the river, then back above the trees - just showing off.
“How do you like that, son?” Papa God asked.
“Amazing, Dad. Incredible performance,” I said, thanking Him.
If any of you have biblical proof that God would not have caused this eagle airshow and then spoken to me in this way, please keep it to yourself. Leave me in my blissful ignorance. What a day!
As much as I love mountains, I don’t like being alone on one in the dark. Things get a little scary in the mountains when the sun goes down. The absence of light awakens fright, and thrills give way to chills. There are wolves, grizzlies, black bears, and mountain lions behind every bush, just waiting to eat people! And one can get lost, really lost, on a mountain in the dark. So I always made sure I was back to the truck by nightfall.
Having experienced the intimidation of a mountain alone at night causes me to be even more impressed with Joshua and his thirty-four days alone on Mount Sinai. Many people know Moses spent forty days and nights with God on this mountain, receiving the Ten Commandments and other laws, precepts, and religious rites God intended Israel to live by. Almost no one, however, thinks about Joshua. But he was there, also.
God instructed Moses to join Him on this fiery mountain and take Joshua, his servant, with him.
Now the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandments which I have written for their instruction. So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up the mountain of God. But to the elders, he said, ‘Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them” (Exodus 24:12-14).
Moses obeyed, and up they went. Then things get somewhat puzzling. God actually made the two of them wait six full days before He said anything. “And on the seventh day, He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud” (v. 16). Can you imagine? What would you do for six days sitting just outside a cloud generated by the glory of God, with thunder crashing and lightning flashing inside of it? The mountain actually shook, at times. I wonder if Joshua ever nervously asked, “Uh, Moses, are you sure we’re supposed to be here?”
We’re not told what they did for six days, or why God made them wait. Perhaps He was teaching them patience. Finally, however, He spoke from within the glory cloud and invited Moses in. Notice, I said “Moses” was invited.
The part of this story that intrigues me most is that on the seventh day, when Moses disappeared into the glory cloud, Joshua was left alone for thirty-four more days! He wasn’t invited to the party. One can only imagine what it was like to be there, alone, for more than a month. Was he horrified when Moses walked into the cloud? It was more than just a cloud, after all; it was a fiery cloud: “To the eyes of the sons of Israel [from the base of the mountain], the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top” (v. 17). One has to wonder:
Did Joshua wonder for thirty-four days if Moses survived?
Was he hearing God and Moses talk?
Did he flinch every time the mountain shook?
Could he hear the finger of God chipping the Ten Commandments into the tablets?
Did he get hungry? If so, what did he eat?
Was he tempted to leave? (We know he didn’t. Exodus 32:17 tells us the two of them came off the mountain together.)
Did Joshua sit for hours just staring at the glory?
Did he receive angelic visitations?
While Yahweh was with Moses, were Jesus or Holy Spirit visiting Joshua?
What was his reaction when Moses finally emerged with his face glowing from glory exposure?
Although God didn’t reveal these things, He did give us a hint of the effect this experience had on Joshua. In Exodus 32, he and Moses came off the mountain. In chapter 33, Moses erected a tent, sometimes called the Tabernacle of Moses, where the ark of the covenant resided. It was also called “the tent of meeting,” for “everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting” (Exodus 33:7).
When Moses would go into the tent to meet with Yahweh, the people were so captivated and spellbound they would stand and watch, for “the pillar of the cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent” (v. 9). The sight was so spellbinding and awe-inspiring that people would “arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent” (v. 10).
Everyone but Joshua, that is.
It would seem that on these occasions, Joshua was allowed to go into the tent with Moses. What an honor. And when it was time for Moses to leave, an interesting and revealing development occurred. “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, WOULD NOT DEPART FROM THE TENT” (v. 11, emphasis mine).
There you go. Joshua had been infected by an insatiable hunger for the God of glory. Forever ruined on the mountain, he became addicted to the presence of God, hopelessly enamored with the pleasure of His company. One can almost hear Joshua asking his mentor and boss, Moses, as the old leader was leaving, “Hey Moses, you think it is alright if I stayed for a little while and hung out in the presence?”
I can imagine the other “addict” answering with a knowing smile, “Sure, son, take your time.” Yep, it takes one to know one. Moses knew, and understood.
This type of addiction to God’s presence doesn’t occur overnight. When we begin our journey with Yahweh, it takes a while to work through the restlessness of our flesh and emotions as we wait on Him. The “unusualness” of relating to an invisible person must be overcome. Our hearts must learn to connect with His intangible presence, and our minds be quiet enough to hear.
One of the things that will help in this process is to find or create a place where you meet with God regularly. Moses had one, as did Joshua, David, and Christ.
Experiment with various translations of Scripture until you find the one you enjoy most. Buy a journal and, as you spend time with Him, write down your thoughts. He will speak to you in your heart and through your mind. Some people also like to create a personal list of their favorite worship songs to listen to as they spend time with God.
Create a routine that works best for you and get started. If you choose to set aside times to visit with God and train your heart and mind to listen, you’ll begin to hear His voice. As happened with Joshua, an addiction will soon develop, and your encounters with Him will become the highlight of every day. In fact, you’ll find them so fulfilling that, like Joshua, you won’t want to leave.
Pray with me:
Father, bring us into the school of Holy Spirit where we’ll learn to overcome the restlessness of the flesh, quiet our minds and listen until our hearts become fully aware of Your presence.
And as we spend time with You, let us be infected with an insatiable attraction to Your presence. Let us become hopelessly enamored with the pleasure of Your company.
And we pray for America, a confused people wandering in the wilderness of lost identity and misplaced affections. Looking for Your love in all the wrong places, Americans are burnt out on unsatisfying religious activities and sterile Sunday social clubs. America is disoriented, dissatisfied, and deceived. We ask You to rock the boat, buck the system, and annihilate status quo! Show up, Jesus, and infect our nation once again with Your overwhelming presence. In Your wonderful name, we pray, Amen.
We decree that a powerful presence movement is coming to America, a love affair with Yahweh that can’t be stopped.
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Today’s post was taken from my book The Pleasure of His Company, published by Baker Books.