As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Where is God? It’s a question many people have asked. Where is God? Before my time there were ‘seeker services’ churches for people asking that question. And still today people will ask, ‘Have you found Jesus?’ Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door of one of our old lecturers, Herman Sasse, and asked him, “Have you found Jesus?” The short old man with coke bottle glasses, fiddled with them a bit and replied, “I did not know He was lost.” Indeed, He is not lost; just sometimes we find it hard to see Him hidden in this world.
Where is God? Is He up the mountain? Mountains those great big things that tower over the landscape, looking down on the plains and valleys, great monuments of earth. They are an obstacle, it takes great effort to climb them and pass them. In the early days of NSW, the colony stayed on the coastal side of the Blue mountains. Yet in time British explorers climbed these obstacles, taking great effort especially when they ignored the Aboriginals advice. They came out to these western plains and trudged through the scrub, under the scorching sun, up into what’s now the Goobang national park; crested the hill after much effort and what they saw was a revelation. At the top of the mountain, they had reached their goal, the finish, and revealed before them was the Western Plains. At the top was the goal and a revelation, but did they see God?
At another mountain long before, another man climbed to another goal and another revelation. Moses was called up to Mount Sinai to speak, face to face, with God. The goal was a way of life, indeed The Way of Life, and the revelation of God’s Glory, Power, and Love. After Moses’ mountain top experience, His face shone with the Glory of God. Not that colloquial bright eyes and smile, no His face was changed in dwelling with God for those 40 days in the light of His glory. His face was changed. Now Light enables us to see, to know, to understand, yet if there’s too much light then we cannot see; don’t stare into the sun. But God’s glory is different to the glory, the light of our sun; just as God Himself is different to His creation. When Moses came down from the mountain after seeing God, He was changed and something of God was with him, his face was one with God’s glory.
On a different mountain a thousand years later, there was a different prophet, leader, warrior. Elijah, ancient Israel’s greatest prophet whose acts are recorded for us in the books of Kings and Chronicles; Elijah stood on mount Carmel against the demonic worship of Baal. There were 400 priests of Baal standing against him, mustered together by Queen Jezebel who sought to change the way of life of God’s people, to turn them away from Him, who is Lord of all, toward the worship of Baal this storm god of Phoenicia. But God Almighty is greater than all the spiritual powers and lord over all things in His Creation. And Elijah was God’s fighter, fighting against evil in the world; he prayed the all storms stopped for 3 years with nothing Baal the so-called storm god could do. And on that mount Carmel, in a contest, God against god, Elijah against 400 prophets of Baal, truth against lies, good against evil; God sent down fire from heaven, a bright flash of lightning, to consume the altar while Baal slept powerless, and Elijah defeated the agents of evil.
Then another man, a Son of Man, a chippy (a carpenter) and a few fishers, climbed The Mountain to The Goal and Revelation for all Humanity. Jesus, Peter, James and John went up onto the mountain to pray. As Jesus was speaking with God His face changed, and the Glory of God which Jesus had hidden in Himself was revealed to those on the mountain top. Moses and Elijah spoke with God, they spoke with Jesus. About His exodus, His death, about the destruction of death and the freeing of all it’s captives; for that is what the Exodus is: freedom for the slaves of Egypt, for the slaves to sin and death and the devil. Exodus is freedom from sin, and freedom to new life and the promised land. Peter saw Moses, Elijah and Jesus; Awestruck by God’s glory he says, let’s build three tents, tabernacles, three temples; thinking, God is here on The mountain! And he was right, so as Peter was speaking God Himself made a tent, a tabernacle of cloud. Just as He had done so often before, on Mount Sinai and on the Temple, the cloud of God’s glory came over the mountain top. And God spoke on the mountain in revelation, “This is My Son, listen to Him!”
Yet the cloudy temple did not stay on the mountain heights. God’s glory again hidden in Jesus, the God-man, came down from the mountain and a large crowd came to meet Him. He came down from the Revelation, to this fallen, broken, hurting world. He came down and just like Elijah centuries before, He threw down the demon, brought the boy New Life, and restored him to his father. He threw down the demon, defeating the devil; He brought the boy New Life, defeating death; He restored him to his father, defeating the separation of sin. As God’s people have always done, Jesus too spoke with God the Father and fought sin death and the devil. As God’s people have always done, Moses spoke with God seeing His glory, and Elijah fought the enemies of God and all Creation. But where is God today? Is He only up the mountain for us to reach Him after putting in all our effort? No, Jesus, God Himself, was with the disciples before the mountain, up the mountain, after the mountain. Jesus went to the mountain to pray, as we gather here today for the same; yet Jesus doesn’t stay here in this building, at this time, on this zoom call. No, Jesus goes down the mountain, out into the world; just as we leave this building, this time, this zoom call. And does Jesus go out to sleep like that pathetic storm god Baal? No, He goes out to fight sin, death and the devil; just as we are called to struggle against temptation, harm and evil. For you are God’s child, you are God’s people, you are The Holy Nation, the Royal Priesthood. You are Christ’s Church. This is what God does, what He has revealed.
Now, I said before that mountain tops have goals and revelations. I’ve spoken of the Revelation of Christ’s divinity; of God’s presence everywhere, at times in obvious glory at times hidden; and of the revelation of our fight against our true enemies. But I haven’t spoken of the goal. God’s intended goal for all humans is what Peter saw on that mountain, our union with God in glory, in light, in love. Jesus is not just our Saviour, not just our Lord, not just God and Man as one; He is also our goal. What we are made to be. For where is God? He is in you. You are Christ’s Church, you are His body, and the goal of our Faith is our Glorious Resurrection in Christ; which you have now, hidden today yet Revealed in all glory at the end.
The Peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto that Glorious Revelation. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.