Before the Fire

Exodus 24:15-18 (NRSV)

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.


I’ve read this passage several times before, but I was struck by a new impression while reading it again. Moses, who was often impatient elsewhere, showed remarkable patience as he sat waiting on God.

Six days Moses waited before God, who appeared to the people at the foot of the mountain like glowing fire in a cloud. What was it like for Moses to stand at the edge of the visible presence of God for six days?

Did he dare sit down? Was sleep at all possible? Was he so entranced that all he could do is stare, waiting, unaware of time’s passage?

We have no answers to those questions, of course. I suspect Moses’ experience was similar to what we will experience when we first stand before the fully visible God. I’m reminded of the MercyMe song, “I Can Only Imagine.

I look forward to knowing. In the meantime, we practice patience in this life, seeking divine glory and waiting on God’s holy word, which will come in God’s time to those who wait faithfully.

Lord, call to us—if we are spiritually slumbering, startle us! Amen.

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