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Morning on the Mount
God wishes me to be alone with him. How solemn will the meeting be! Father and child; Sovereign and subject; Creator and creature! The distance between us will be infinite, unless he shorten it by his mercy! Oh, my poor broken and weary heart, think of it and be glad; God wants thee to meet him alone! He will heal thy wounds; he will shed his light upon thy tears, and make them shine like jewels; he will make thee young again. Oh that I might be on the mountain first, and that praise might be waiting for God! I will be astir before the sun; I will be far on the road before the dew rises; and long before the bird sings will I breathe my sweet hymn. Oh, dark night, flee fast, for I would see God and hear still more of his deep truth! Oh, ye stars, why stay so long? Ye are the seals of night, but it is for other light I pine, the light that shows the way to the Mount of God. My Father, I am coming; nothing on the mean plain shall keep me away from the holy heights: help me to climb fast, and keep thou my foot, lest it fall upon the hard rock. At thy bidding I come, so thou wilt not mock my heart. Bring with thee honey from heaven, yea, milk, and wine, and oil for my soul's good, and stay the sun in his course, or the time will be too short in which to look upon thy face, and to hear thy gentle voice. Morning on the mount! It will make me strong and glad all the rest of the day so well begun!
How shall I go before God? In what robe shall I dress myself? "All the fitness he requires is to feel my need of him." That I do feel. Without him I am lost. But when I think of him the thought of my great sin comes at the same time, and it is like a black cloud spread between me and the sun. When I think of anything else, I am happy for the moment; but when I think of God, I burn with shame and tremble with fear. I cannot answer him. His questions are judgments. In his eye there is fire that burns me. This morning I must meet him on the mount, meet him alone! Alone! Alone! Surely he need not have said expressly so; for to be with God is to be in solitude, though the mountain be alive with countless travellers. But he bids me come; and is not the bidding itself a promise? Would he take me to the mount to kill me? Is it that he may bury me in some unknown rock, that he bids me climb the steep path? Oh, my faithless heart, these very questionings are the beginnings of sin. Why do I question God? Why do not I arise at once, and flee to him as my soul's one delight? It is not my humility that keeps me back, but my pride. I am not modest, I am guilty; I will speak plainly to myself, and set my shameful fault in a burning light.
God asks me to meet him in the top of the mount. I am called to climb as far away from the world as I can. Surely the very place of meeting has meaning in it. For many a day I have not seen the top of the mount. I have stood on the plain, or I have gone to the first cleft, or have tried a short way up the steep. I have not risen above the smoke of my own house, or the noise of my daily business. I have said, "In my climbing I must not lose sight of my family; I must be within call of my children; I must not go beyond the line of vegetation; even in religion I must be prudent." Thus I have not seen the top, nor have I entered into the secret place of the Most High. Oh that I might urge my way to the very top of the hill chosen of God! "What must it be to be there?" The wind will be music The clouds will be as the dust of my feet. Earth and time will be seen as they are, in their littleness and their meanness. My soul, move up to the top; let no stone be above thee; higher and higher; God awaits thee, God calls thee, God will give thee rest! God means that the very climbing should do me good. He could come to me, but he bids me go to him. There is mercy in the going. There is comfort on the road. The very weariness has a promise. The mountain is measured; God does not ask me to climb an unknown distance; he knows my strength, and he fixes the meeting-place within its limits. This day I will see the sacred top. The enemy will try to turn me back, but I will meet him in the strength of God, and abash him by the name of Christ Lord, help me this day to see the very top of the mount, and let my poor soul taste the sweetness of the liberty which is assured to it in Christ.
The morning is the time fixed for my meeting the Lord. What meaning there is in the time as well as in the place! This very word morning is as a cluster of rich grapes. Let me crush them, and drink the sacred wine. In the morning then God means me to be at my best in strength and hope; I have not to climb in my weakness; in the night I have buried yesterday's fatigue, and in the morning I take a new lease of energy. Give God thy strength all thy strength; he asks only what he first gave. In the morning then he may mean to keep me long that he may make me rich! In the morning then it is no endless road he bids me climb, else how could I reach it ere the sun be set? Sweet morning! There is hope in its music. Blessed is the day whose morning is sanctified. Successful is the day whose first victory was won in prayer. Holy is the day whose dawn finds thee on the top of the mount! Health is established in the morning. Wealth is won in the morning. The light is brightest in the morning. "Wake, psaltery and harp; I myself will awake early."
"Come up in the morning." A tender morning light shines upon the life of the elder saints and gives it the freshness of youth. The Bible is full of morning. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." The dew of thy sorrow shall be taken up by the sun, and God shall set it in his light like a bow of hope. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord, and in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." "The Lord's mercies are new every morning." May we "pass over Jordan by morning light"! Of old "the morning stars sang together." "I, Jesus, am the bright and morning star." The Holy Book is full of the spirit of morning. No evening shadows darken it. Truly the day declines, but "at eventide there is light" where in the morning there has been converse with God. My soul, I would charge thee to be as those who watch for the morning. The morning makes the day. The Sabbath of the day is in the morning. Oh, may this morning bring me near to God! May it be the time of resurrection; an hour of immortality; a gleam of the upper light, a breath of the holy world! A morning misspent is a day ruined. A morning saved is a day completed. Lord, awake me at sunrise, and by the beauty of the coming light give hope for the whole day.
"Be ready in the morning." This is my Lord's command. On my part there is to be preparation. As the ground is tilled to receive the seed, so must my heart be made ready to receive the good word of God. I may not rush into my Lord's presence in violent haste; I must be calm, knowing well myself, feeling my unworthiness, and taking with me words of humility and reverence. He bids me come. That is my plea for going. Alas, what making "ready" I require! My thoughts are so worldly; my plans are so mean; my motives are so selfish; my affections are so entwined around unworthy objects. "Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" God himself must make me ready, for "the preparation of the heart" is from heaven. "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels." Lord, make me ready. Truly all is from the Lord. My awaking and my preparation, my desire to go, and my ability to move these, Lord, are thine, and these show the might and the gentleness of thy holy hand. Being thus made ready, may I have grace to go forth and climb the appointed hill. Doth the bridegroom hide himself in the chamber of his preparation? Doth he not rather go forth that he may find his heart's desire and his heart's delight? So would I be made ready, and go out to the hill, and scale its utmost height. "Arise, let us go hence."
"Come up in the morning." "I will arise and go to my Father." It is not to Lebanon that he calls me, nor to the top of Shenir and Hermon, nor to "the mountains of the leopards"; it is to "mournful Calvary" it is to the holy, tender, mighty Cross! Nothing shall keep me back. The orchard of pomegranates shall not detain me, nor will I tarry by the streams of Lebanon; I will bend my steps towards the Cross, for all my salvation is there. We shall meet where the sacred blood flows for sin. No tainted wind of earth blows through that solemn sanctuary. There I will speak of my guilt, and keep back nothing that I have done. The Lord shall see my heart of hearts, and my Saviour's blood shall cleanse my secret thoughts. To see his holiness will be to see my own corruption; then shall I tremble with fear, and my strength shall be as water poured forth, but my weakness will not be despised by the Lord. "To them that have no might he increaseth strength." He is gentle with his weary sheep. In the green pastures he leads them, and by the still waters is their quiet lot. He carrieth the lambs in his bosom, and he maketh his flock to rest at noon. My Lord calls me, and I will go. When I see him I will say, How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings! And when he bids me climb the still higher heights, I will be "like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices." Lord, help me; Lord, pity me!
The mountain on whose top I have to meet the Lord is very high. Sometimes, because of the poverty and feebleness of my faith, it seems as if I could never reach the far-away height. There are places upon the steep where I would gladly sit down, saying, It is enough: but a still small voice comes to me asking, What doest thou here? The Lord is on the top of the mount, and wilt thou keep him waiting as if he were thy servant? He hath bowed the heavens and come down; shame on thee, my soul, not to be there before thy Lord's chariot! Oh, the seducing spirits, how they beguile me! Oh, the cold winds, how they strike me and urge me down! Saviour! give thine angels charge concerning me, for thou hast made them all ministering spirits, and by their help I shall this day see the top of the sacred mount! "Keep me this day without sin." Let me have one day's rest from evil works. Give me a sweet Sabbath of pure love and unbroken rest. One such day will make me young again. One such day shall make me forget my polluted yesterdays, and cause me by sweet foretaste to enjoy the heaven that has begun to come. Blessed are they that breathe the mountain air! Theirs is enduring health, and the keenest joys are theirs. Bear me beyond the cold and killing fogs of earth and time, and let me breathe the pure air of liberty and heaven. I give myself to thee this day. This day I bid farewell to all that is unworthy of the Blood by which I am redeemed. Henceforward I would climb the mount of God every morning, that afterwards I may return to do the work of earth as a citizen of Holy Zion. My Father, I start for the mount this day; may I not fail to reach the top, where thy glory rests like a tabernacle of light!
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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 34". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10