Verse of the Day

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pastor's Sermon Notes - March 11, 2007

The Three Mountains of Moses:
Sinai, Pisgah and Transfiguration -
The Mountains of Law, Vision and Glory


I have a thing about mountains. It is as if they call to me. I have to get to the top to see what can be viewed from there, and then I wear my legs out getting to the next one. From Dutch Mountain to Mount Minsi, from Smoky Mountain to Hawk Mountain, the steeper and more rugged the terrain the better I like it. I can't stay away from them for long. I have a thing about mountains.

Geography plays a role in how we think about Scripture, and in how we think about life.

Consider the many Mountains and Valleys in Scripture, and the role that they play in Biblical history.

The Valleys of Eschol, Achor, Jericho, Hinnom, Jezreel, Elah, Rephaim, Megiddo, salt, Succoth, Jehoshaphat, etc.

The Mountain of Horeb, Ebal, Gerizim, Hermon, Ephraim, Tabor, Bethel, Moriah, Hor, Nebo, Carmel, Olives (Olivet)

Consider also the Mountains and Valleys in Life, the high points and low points of our experience. Can you think for a moment of those times in your walk with the Lord that you would characterize as mountain top experiences? Have you spent time in the valleys of life? They help us to appreciate at the mountains, don't they?

God has a thing about the geography of His creation:

1 Kings 20:28 - And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

Psalm 23:4 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Isaiah 40:4 - Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: [cited in Luke 3:5, and included in Handel's "Messiah"]

Jeremiah 48:8 - And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the Lord hath spoken.

Jeremiah 49:4 - Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?

Ezekiel 6:3 (also 36:4, 6) - And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.

Joel 3:14 - Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

Zech. 14:4 - And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

Psalm 36:6 - Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

Psalm 72:3 - The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

Psalm 87:1 - His foundation is in the holy mountains.

Micah 4:2 - And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Zech. 8:3 - Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.

John 4:20-21 - Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Rev. 21:10 - And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Christ spent time on the mountains. It was a place of retreat, ministry and worship for Him:

Matthew 5:1 - And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: (Thus begins what we now call, The Sermon on the Mount)

Matthew 14:23 - And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

Matthew 15:29 - And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

Moses was with God on three mountains in Scripture. I am not aware of any others that he may have been on, but these three are significant for Biblical history, and for lessons that we can learn from Moses' experiences with God on these mountains.

I. The First Mountain - Sinai - The Mountain of Law (Ex. 19:20)
II. The Second Mountain - Pisgah - The Mountain of Vision (Dt. 34:1)
III. The Third Mountain - Transfiguration - The Mountain of Glory (Mt. 17:1-3)

I. The First Mountain - Sinai - The Mountain of Law - Ex. 19-34 (19:20)

And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai,on the top of the mount:
and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount;
and Moses went up

This Mountain is where we learn of the Fear of God!

Consider the distinctive unapproachableness of Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19.

Moses was alone on Mt. Sinai with God.

II. The Second Mountain - Pisgah - The Mountain of Vision - Deut. 3:23-28; 34:1-8 (34:1)

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab
unto the mountain of Nebo,
to the top of Pisgah,
that is over against Jericho.

This Mountain is where we may view the Promise of God!

Just as on Mt. Sinai, Moses was alone with God on Mt. Pisgah.

The reason for the vision from Mt. Pisgah - The answer to the question concerning why Moses could not enter the land may be found in Num. 20:1-13; and Deut. 3:23-28.

Pisgah was the end of the road for Moses.

Why would someone die in the Land of the Law short of the Promised Land?

The Mediator of the Law will never get you across that River!

Moses was buried in a valley, not on the mountain - Deut. 34:6 -
And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

In this life we get a foretaste of Glory, we groan and travail for the deliverance to the Eternal Promised Land, we fill our eyes, our minds, our spirits with the vision extended to us on the high places of the Word of God!

Pisgah has been an inspiration for hymnwriters for centuries.

“Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:”

From: "Sweet Hour of Prayer,"
by William Walford (1845)

This hymn first appeared in The New York Observer, September 13, 1845, accompanied by the following, by Thomas Salmon:

“During my residence at Coleshill, Warwickshire, England, I became acquainted with W. W. Walford, the blind preacher, a man of obscure birth and connections and no education, but of strong mind and most retentive memory. In the pulpit he never failed to select a lesson well adapted to his subject, giving chapter and verse with unerring precision and scarcely ever misplacing a word in his repetition of the Psalms, every part of the New Testament, the prophecies, and some of the histories, so as to have the reputation of “knowing the whole Bible by heart.” He actually sat in the chimney corner, employing his mind in composing a sermon or two for Sabbath delivery, and his hands in cutting, shaping and polishing bones for shoe horns and other little useful implements. At intervals he attempted poetry. On one occasion, paying him a visit, he repeated two or three pieces which he had composed, and having no friend at home to commit them to paper, he had laid them up in the storehouse within. “How will this do?” asked he, as he repeated the following lines, with a complacent smile touched with some light lines of fear lest he subject himself to criticism. I rapidly copied the lines with my pencil, as he uttered them, and sent them for insertion in the Observer, if you should think them worthy of preservation.”

“Thou art a cooling fountain in life’s dry, dreary sand;
From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain, we view our promised land.”

From: "O Day of Rest and Gladness,"
by Christopher Wordsworth (1862)

“Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o’er,
Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood,
Should fright us from the shore.”

From: "There is a Land of Pure Delight,"
by Isaac Watts

“I’ve been on Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
And I’ve satisfied my longing heart’s desire;
For I caught a glimpse of glory bright,
And my soul is burning with the fire.

O the fire is burning, yes, ’tis brightly burning,
O ’tis burning, burning in my soul;
O the fire is burning, yes, ’tis brightly burning,
O ’tis burning, burning in my soul.”

From: "The Fire Is Burning,"
by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922)

III. The Third Mountain - Transfiguration - The Mountain of Glory - Mt. 16:28-17:1-9 (17:1-3); Mk. 9:1-10; Lk. 9:27-36

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother,
and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
And was transfigured before them:
and his face did shine as the sun,
and his raiment was white as the light.
And, behold,
there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

This Mountain is where we learn of the Glory of God!

2 Peter 1:16-18 - [16] For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [17] For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [18] And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Now Moses is not alone!

He has company on this mountain, and they are carrying on a conversation. What are they talking about? If you would like to know read Luke 9:31! Don't you wish you could have listened in on that conversation?

Can you see Moses there on that mountain? First he is there, and then he is not!

Now there is only One there! And the Father commanded the Apostles to hear His beloved Son.

Can you hear Him? Can you hear only Him?


We cannot meet God at Mt. Sinai as Moses did.
Even the children of Israel could not approach that mountain at that time.

We were not party to the vision that God showed Moses from the top of Mt. Pisgah. The vision of our inheritance comes from elsewhere!

We were not there on the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, James and John saw Moses and Elijah talking with Christ.

There is a mountain for you! God has a mountain for you! And it is called Zion! We have come to Mt. Zion!

Psalm 48:2 - Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

Psalm 125:1 - They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

Isaiah 24:23 - Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

Joel 2:32 - And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

Obadiah 1:17 - But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Rev. 14:1 - And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

And Mt. Zion is where we have come to Jesus!

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
[Hebrews 12:18-24]

God has a thing about mountains.

No comments: