Psalm 19; Exodus 19:16–25; Mark 9:2–8 (read online ⧉)
Spend enough time in (at least) Christian circles, and you will likely hear the phrase, “mountain-top experience.” This is usually described as a deeply powerful encounter with God that emotionally and spiritually separates someone from the “real” world.
Moses, the Israelites, and Aaron have different experiences with the same event. Moses is personally interacting with God. The Israelites are repeatedly told to stay away during this time. Aaron, after a time, is called up the mountain to be with Moses and God. This event is not the same kind of mountain-top experience that we usually speak of. Moses was there because God told him to be, and this was also God’s testimony to the Israelites that Moses was God’s chosen leader of the Israelites.
The Israelites, on the other hand, were a ways away. Culturally, they didn’t want to be anywhere near any god, let alone the God that was in fire and cloud. This was on top of the warning they also received to not step foot on the mountain or they would die. This is definitely not the mountain-top experience we would think of positively.
Lastly, Aaron was called up. Partially, this is to set the groundwork for his role as head priest. With Moses, he would stand before God. Yet, it was Moses who was first. While Aaron was still called up, it wasn’t quite the same.
The disciples had a different experience altogether. They saw Jesus transformed into something wholly, then they saw Moses and Elijah, the two traditional great prophets of the Jews. They wanted to capture the experience and to maintain it by building lodging for Moses and Elijah, but it was not to be. Jesus was restored to normal, the two prophets vanished.
1) Have you ever had your own mountain-top experience? Have you ever shared it with someone?
2) If you, or someone you know, has had a mountain-top experience, how did that affect you (them) a day, week, a month, a year later?