Who Will Ascend? Biblical Mountaintop Experiences: Part 2

English: Transfiguration of Jesus
English: Transfiguration of Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my simple story from last week, there are several principles about mountaintop experiences that I want to outline for you.  The first principle is that mountaintop experiences are often times of equipping and training.  I believe that God was equipping and training me to become a positive influence at my school and to grow in the ministry in a variety of ways.  The second principle is that you can’t live on the mountaintop.  Mountaintop experiences are great, but we cannot live in that zone forever.  The reason is because of the third principle.  This principle states that a great assignment follows every mountaintop experience.  These high moments in our lives are not just for ourselves, but rather, they are for us to receive what the Lord would have for us to give to others.

Now, what does this all have to do with the power of prayer?  Well, keep in mind that my theme is comparing going to another level of prayer with ascending the Mountain of God.  In essence, our prayer lives must become like mountaintop experiences, where every day, we experience God in such a powerful way during our mountaintop time with Him that we are prepared for the mission He has called us to do for that day.  Prayer is not only a powerful weapon for seeing results happen, but it is also a powerful equipping tool in preparing for those results.

Does that mean we must spend all day on our knees in prayer?  Well, some may be called to do that, but for the most part, we can’t physically do that.  Rather, at some point, we must “descend the mountain,” so to speak, and go forth into the world with the mission God has placed upon us.  That does not mean we have to stop praying or leave God back in our prayer closet at home.  On the contrary, when we meet with God on our spiritual mountaintops, we need to remember that when it’s time to leave, He will go with us as we go forth in the purpose He has set before us.  I want you to understand: By saying that you can’t live on the mountaintop, that does not mean you have certain times when you can and can’t be with God.  Rather, I am saying that we should carry the presence of God with us wherever we go, whether on the mountain or in the valley.

Let me share with you about possibly the greatest mountaintop experience of all times.  You will be quite familiar with this story, but perhaps now you will see it in a different light.  It is the story of the transfiguration, and I am using the account from the Gospel of Luke as our text.  You can find the whole story in Luke 9:28-36:

Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He [Jesus] took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.  As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.  And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah,  who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.  Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.

While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”  When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.

Okay, let’s recap.  Jesus went up a mountainside to pray one day, and He took His three core apostles with Him: Peter, John, and James.  Now, it was not unusual for Him to climb a mountainside in order to pray to God (we will talk more about His habit of climbing mountains later in this series).  Thus, the apostles probably did not think anything unusual of it.  But, as they soon found out, this time was the most extraordinary of all the times they had ever climbed the mountain with Jesus.  The first thing that happened was that His appearance changed to a glorious, heavenly, bright figure—“glistening,” as the New King James Version says in verse 29.  Then, something really interesting happened: two men joined Him and began to converse with Him.  These two men were Moses and Elijah.

Now, I have often wondered why, of all the characters in the Bible, Moses and Elijah were chosen to join Jesus on that mountaintop that day.  Well, one day as I meditated upon this, I believe the Lord put it in a new light for me.  Moses and Elijah were the only two recorded men in the Old Testament who actually met with God in the fullness of His presence upon Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God!  (Now, it can be argued that Aaron went with Moses, as well as other priests, but only Moses had a fuller experience of God’s presence than any others.)  Thus, the Old Testament model of meeting God collided with the New Testament model of meeting God.  Moses, Elijah, and Jesus each had mountaintop experiences in which they met with God in a deep, intimate way beyond what most other people have ever done.  This was a momentous occasion.  This was not just another mountainside prayer meeting.  It was the mountaintop experience of all mountaintop experiences.

You would think that the apostles would have been intently watching this whole thing from the start, but that is not the case.  The Bible says in verse 32 that they were “heavy with sleep.”  They weren’t even paying attention to what was happening!  But eventually, they became “fully awake” and finally saw the glory of God and Moses and Elijah with Him.  They almost missed their visitation!  They were like Jerusalem, which Jesus lamented over in Luke 19:42, 44b: “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes. . . . because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

So often, we as believers fall into spiritual slumber—such a deep slumber that it takes radiant light and two dead men walking to wake us up!  I believe God wants to bring such an outpouring on the church today, such a mountaintop experience, but we often grow weary and sleep right through what He is doing around us.  Why?  Because we think life is normal.  The apostles were accustomed to Jesus’ mountaintop prayer meetings.  There was nothing that extraordinary about them, so they figured they wouldn’t miss much if they caught a few winks in-between prayers.  We do the same thing when we see our surroundings as normal, mundane life.  But seeing life as such will cause us to grow weary and possibly sleep through our moment of visitation.  We need to treat every encounter with God—every mountaintop experience, every prayer meeting—as something fresh, something new, and something vital for our very existence.  It’s no wonder that my pastor, Pastor James K. Hart, always says about any service at Eagle’s Nest, whether routine or specially scheduled, “Don’t miss it!”  Let’s not miss our moment of visitation!

…For the rest of the story, check back next week for part 3!

Practically Speaking…

Can you remember times in your spiritual walk with God in which you became satisfied to go through the motions?  We’ve probably all been there.  I know I have.  Like the disciples, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just sleep for a little bit.  I won’t miss anything.”  But it’s no coincidence that all throughout the Bible we see the repeated call to “Awake, O sleeper!”  It’s so easy to become spiritually lethargic and apathetic.  But in order to ascend and encounter God on His Mountain, we have to get out of our mode of “comfortability.”

So, the next time you spend time with God, go to church, study His Word, or whatever else it may be, don’t think of it as just another meeting with God.  Seize every opportunity you have to spend with Him.  Treat each encounter with utmost importance and honor.  It would be such a shame to miss our moment of visitation simply because we were spiritually sleeping!


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