WILDERNESS: On the Necessity of Meeting with God


Exodus 19:16-25 (NIV)

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”

23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’”

24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.


There is so much going on in today’s text and yet there is really just one thing. Let’s rehearse the scene:

Thunder. Lightening. Thick clouds descending. Loud trumpet blasting. Billowing smoke. Fiery rurnace. Mountain shaking violently. People trembling.

So did you catch the one thing? Because of so many things going on it can be easy to miss the one thing actually happening. The one thing is not only the most important thing, it is really the only thing. It’s right there in v.17.

Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God.

The one thing—meeting with God.

Years back when we first started the New Room Conference, our team made a crucial decision. We decided our conference would not have a theme’that it would be about only one thing: meeting with God. Sure, we have speakers and music and snacks and breakouts just like other conferences, but the overarching, underlying, permeating point of everything we do would be meeting with God. We all agreed; we could pull off the most amazing conference ever and if we did not meet with God it would have been for naught. At the same time, we could miss a lot of cues, provide FEMA-level snacks and cut the smoke machine and if we met with God, no-one would care about the rest.

The giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai can be described in many ways and mostly it is described as simply, “The Ten Commandments,” but in its deepest and most important essence, it is something else: a meeting with God.

Church can be this way. I sometimes wonder why we require so much amenity to meet with God. We have massive sound systems to simulate the thunder, and all kinds of flashy lighting to simulate lightning, and yes, we even have smoke machines. I sometimes wonder if this masks the real absence of a true meeting with God. Don’t hear me wrong. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loud music and lights and even smoke—until there is.

Consider the notion of having a quiet time or doing devotions. Do we conceive of these activities as a “meeting with God,” or have they become just things we do every day; faithful habits or worse, boxes we check? I know you appreciate the Daily Text, but let’s ask the question: Is the Daily Text a part of your daily meeting with God, or is it just good food for thought? I wonder if some dimension of repentance might include waking up from our predictable devotional patterns and getting back to the core essence of they are really all about: Meeting with God.

Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God.

Maybe the invitation is to step away from the familiarity of the camp that we might re-find that meeting. Might shaking off our coziness help us recover the sense of God’s holiness? This could be the right time to declare a fast. Let’s give David the last word on the subject today:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)


Father, I want to break free from the easy cadence of the expected prayer. I want to repent. As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Breathe an awakening into me, Lord. I open myself to you with all I have. Meet with me, Lord Jesus. I am here. In your name I pray, Amen.


Are you staying with the movement of consecration in your life today? How does today’s encouragement build on that of yesterday? How are you responding?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt