Elwin R. Roach
From reading our previous study, "For Such a Time As This (#273.16), we can see God’s peculiar people are not a people who act religiously weird. Moreover, since Moses was the first to voice those words, I believe we can say that he was one of those peculiar ones; he was, no doubt, a special possession over and above all else, an acquisition of high value, as the term peculiar people speaks. This rare gem was the*meekest of all men who declared and manifested the excellence of the One who had called him out of Egypt’s darkness and into His marvelous light. And where he found God’s light was undoubtedly in the place he would have least expected it. And such a finding did not come without a price. Placed within his life was an abrasive agent, like a grain of Sinai’s sand, yet out of that grinding irritation was formed a beautiful desert pearl. It was surely not an easy thing for him to leave the luxury of Pharaoh’s palace to live in desolation for forty years, yet it was necessary to build and polish him for that to which he was called.
*meek: from our research we found that meekness is connected with anger; that is, being the quality of the man who is angry for the right reasons, against the right people, in the right way, and for the right length of time. It conveys not so much the idea of gentleness as it does strength under control.
This peculiar man was God’s gold tried in the fire. He was God’s elect, chosen and reserved for a purpose, and likewise all those who find themselves exiled in the searing desert of Sinai’s sand and fire.
God’s Peculiar Treasure, like Moses, is shut up, sealed, and reserved on the backside of the desert. They are acquisitions of high value, and He is making them around Himself, arraying Himself with the priceless jewels of His Kingdom which is done outside the earshot or sight of the world.
This marvelous work of weaving us around His person is taking place in His dark pavilions. While the natural man will avoid such processings whenever possible, God’s chosen draws near. We read of such an account in Exodus: "And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was." Exodus 20:21. It is not strange that the elect draws near to it, not like so many that recoil at such a foreboding presence. For there is something deep within that compels them to advance. At the portals when the white-heat of the furnace of affliction is felt upon their cheeks, like a moth drawn to the flame, they move ever closer and into the devouring flames.
As terrible as it may be—it is therein, in this chamber of fire, where mysteries unfold and are spun into living gold. It is here that the Weaver’s shuttle is ever pounding, compacting, and joining together His flaming threads, making, as it were, a coat of many colors. In this pavilion of darkness, we come to know what it is to be a part of the woven Body by which Christ clothes Himself.
He spins our frames out of the same heavenly substance from what He is, which is the fire of His Father and our Father. From flaming threads He weaves His celestial robe.
At this very moment, He is shaping us around Himself. It is one thing to be clothed upon by Him; but another for Him to be clothed upon by us. Indeed, we are the cloud that covers Him by day and the fire by night. His person may be hidden; but His presence is seen in this many membered body
Although reserved for a time in celestial archives—God’s treasure, His Peculiar ones, His Sons, will not be hidden forever. For such a time as this they will be removed from the back burner. It is at such a time that they will come forth in the good works for which they were chosen. Moses was drawn out of the desert when the time came, and so will these peculiar ones. It is their manifest destiny. Until the day of their appearing, they stand daily in Horeb, the obscure Mountain of God where He is making His coat of flaming splendor.
"Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD, even to HOREB. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Exodus 3:1-5.
What a wonderful thought! The idea of coming to the Mountain of God has stood in the forefront of our dreams. From atop its lofty peaks we see ourselves reigning with the King of kings. Such majesty, such glory, such splendor, and unrestrained power, the envy of any sound-thinking creature. Yet there seems to be something amiss in this verse. Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God? We thought there was only one holy mountain, namely, Mount Zion. This is something we had not considered. Who has heard of this mountain located in the south-central region of the Sinai desert? We would think not many. Nevertheless, it is called the Mountain of God, and whether we have known it by name or not—most of us have scaled its rocky slopes.
Horeb is a mountain one would have never imagined containing holy ground; for it yields little pleasure to the natural man. The name itself means desolate, or to make desolate. Even its location would suggest anything other than holiness; which is on the back side of the desert in the southern extremities of the Sinai desert. If we were to name a mountain of God, it would probably not be called Desolate. We would select something more like Abundance, Plentiful, Overflowing, Rich, Fertile, and then place it in a more beautiful, hospitable, and accessible location. But desolation? That sounds strange, especially when we consider the priceless treasures to be had in anything that pertains to God and His kingdom.
Those in the ranks of sonship know the benefits of the cross working in their lives; yet it seems that some may not grasp its full impact and potential. I believe, however, we will see much of it in God’s desolate mountain called Horeb.
When hardships come which are designed to bring desolation to our own way of thinking and doing things, we do not always react as Moses did. People generally rivet their attention on their dire circumstances rather than the glory of the burning bush that God planted. While we are being made desolate, God’s glory is breaking forth. Fire is kindled upon us, yet we endure without being consumed. Although desolation floods our souls, and the flaming bush appears to be foreboding, let us know that all is well. That which we are in Him will not be destroyed. We will remain, and it is from there that He not only reveals Himself, but also speaks. If Moses had been so caught up by the desolation of that mountain, if his focus had been on how terrible things were—he would have never turned aside to see why the bush was not consumed by the flames. And he would have never heard the voice of the Lord from the midst of it.
The dilemma with many today is that they will not take their eyes off their problems long enough to see the glory at hand. They know they are up against a mountain; but they don’t realize it is the Mountain of God. If they should turn aside and venture toward the fire in its midst, they will no longer fail to recognize that the place in which they stand is holy ground. When they turn toward the light of revelation, their desolation will not be viewed as an obstacle to be avoided, nor will they curse it, thinking it is the work of the devil. But rather, they will see it as something lifting them into the heavens, raised up by God for their good.
We all must know that the glory we seek is found in the very place we try to avoid, and the voice we long for also comes from there. Our reasoning may object. Our instinct is to run, yet while in the dry places, we must turn our focus aside to see Him and hear His voice.
Those desolate places are by no means pleasant, but let us not be overwhelmed by them. Let us turn, ascend, and see what awaits us. Paul and Silas left us worthy testimonies. Although they were not on the back side of the Sinai desert, their desolation was just as real. They were in prison, a most dreadful and desolate place. However, like Moses, they saw beyond that desolation. They turned aside to see the burning bush. They were praying and singing praises unto God! Their focus was not on the natural circumstances of their imprisonment, but on the fire of God within those circumstances. It was after they had turned aside from their midnight hour and looked beyond the veil of human suffering that the foundation of their prison heaved and broke up.
Paul and Silas, no doubt, aggravated the other prisoners for a while. Imagine, turning aside in such a desolate and hopeless situation and praying and singing and shouting hallelujahs until midnight. At the darkest hour when everyone else could only see the awfulness of everything, these two were looking to something wonderful in it all. They peered deep into the unseen realm. Their Spirit-filled voices penetrated every soul, and ALL the prison doors were opened! When Paul and Silas’ voices were heard rising in praise, the earth shook. There was A GREAT EARTHQUAKE, and they were all made free, even the jailer! Complaining about the unfair things that had befallen them did not loosen their chains—it was looking beyond those temporal things and praising God that did it.
Although the severe shakings would appear to be destroying people’s lives, they work quite the opposite. They open the way into the Holy of holies. The adamic man will lose his life, this we know; but the new man will be raised up and renewed day by day.
Not one soul of these will be lost, as the veil is removed from their eyes. Furthermore, before it is over, not even the prison keeper will be lost. There is a time when the gate keepers of religious orders will also be freed from their place of darkness and evil communications.
The ecclesiastical leaders of all the churches will cry out for mercy and be saved. Self-serving men of worldly governments will likewise seek and find salvation. The hard-pressing bosses in the work places will be released from corruption as they come to the knowledge of the truth. The intolerant husbands, wives, and children who subvert and hold their loved ones captive by their selfish powers will be saved. All will have their foundations shaken. Their evil chains will be broken, veils rent, and they will come to know the freedom of Christ’s life and His infinite love.
Let us hear from a dear brother who knows from experience the glory that abounds from darkness of the midnight hour. He also speaks of Paul and Silas:
"There is an ongoing, unfolding revelation given to those who look into the unseen. While multitudes are taken up with the temporary shadows, there are those who look beyond the darkness, beyond the light afflictions, to see the Light that shines ever more. They look beyond the chains that bind. They see Christ’s liberty and are joined to it.
"It was at midnight that Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises, until even the prisoners heard them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, and every man’s bands were loosed. Paul and Silas were not looking at the bondage of the prison — they were looking into the unseen, to behold the liberty of the spirit, and it became their reality. It would have been easy to focus in on the stripes laid on their backs, and they could have counted their bruises from the beatings endured. They could have taken note of how dark it was at midnight. But they were not looking at the things seen, but into the realm of the unseen, and thus were made partakers of its victory.
"Thank God, the inward man is renewed day by day. The trials, the afflictions, the pressures of life can so fill our consciousness that we cannot see beyond the temporal. But all the negatives, distressing as they might be, are WORKING FOR US while we are looking at the unseen. Simultaneously, while the testing is in progress, it is WORKING FOR US positive things.
"Loss is temporary—and when we look beyond the loss, and behold in Christ that all is gain, we cannot mourn the passing of the temporal for the joy that is set before us in the age-abiding. Let us march to the drummer beat of LOOKING AT THE UNSEEN, for there are victories that await us beyond all that we can ask or think. Yes, ‘I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the Good of my Salvation: my God will hear me.‘ (Micah 7:7). Praise God!" —Ray Prinzing, Letters of Truth, No. 285).
Although "looking to the Lord" is something we all say is a good thing to do, especially during times of need, it is often difficult for some to put into practice. A person can become overwhelmed by the problems and cares of the day—everyday. And it seems an impossibility to take their eyes off the circumstances long enough to see anything of God. Jesus can be sitting in their very midst, and rather than being their strength in time of need, He is a burden to them. They are often much like a child who is always distraught and disturbed over the slightest discomfort. They perpetually question, "Why, why, and again, why would God allow this when He could prevent it or fix it?" The truth is, in many cases—it is not broken and doesn’t need fixing.
People who are snared by this defeated mind-set remind me of something our dear brother, Ray Prinzing, who also wrote along these lines. Again we quote from his seasoned insight:
"Martha had a sister, Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. ‘But Martha was cumbered about much serving...’ Cumbered—the Greek word is ‘perispao’ meaning: to drag all around, to distract with care. She was so loaded down with emotions and attitudes and feelings which needed to be dealt with and set in proper order. She was dragging those feelings and attitudes into every relationship—how she felt towards her sister, how she communed with Jesus. She COMPLAINED and WHINED even to Him whom she had received into her house.
"So Jesus answered her, ‘Martha, thou art CAREFUL and troubled about many things.’ Anxious about her serving, distracted by the multiplicity of things to get done—things pulling in all directions, things that clamor for attention. She wanted to do it all just right, and cried for ‘help’ from Mary, so it could all be done according to Martha's own schedule and standard. Martha also was ‘TROUBLED’ with these things. Greek, ‘turbazo’ meaning: to be in a tumult. Comes from the root word for a ‘crowd,’ and speaks of being agitated or disturbed in mind. Thus it blends in with the already given ‘TAKE THOUGHT.’ What distresses we endure when our minds are filled with a TUMULT OF THOUGHT. So many voices to be heard, and once you give heed to them they rush on and on like a broken record, over and over again, until it wearies you, and you would like to just be able to push a TURN OFF button, and silence the noise.
"Then Jesus said one more thing to Martha, ‘One thing is needful: and Mary had chosen that good part....’ What was that one thing? TO GIVE ATTENTION TO THE WORD WHICH HE WAS SPEAKING. (Mary had turned aside to see the burning bush, and hear what He had to say). Yes, ‘He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (called out).’ (Rev. 3:3). HE is speaking that which would calm every troubled heart. It is a word which sets us free—free from being FULL OF CARE, free from worry.
"In His parable of ‘The sower and the seed,’ Jesus said that some of the seed fell ‘among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.’ Then He went on to explain that the ones sown among thorns are those who hear the Word, ‘Then the CARES AND ANXIETIES of the world, and distractions of the age...’ (Mark 4:19, Amp.) ‘creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless.’
"There is so much negativity around us these days. Every news cast, every paper, even religious magazines, all stress the doom and despair of the times. Their outlook, being conceived by the carnal mind, does not radiate hope and cheer. Yet Jesus said, ‘BE OF GOOD CHEER,’ because He has already overcome the world. If there are wars and rumors of wars, they are still under His control. The fact is, ‘The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, setteth up over it the basest of men.’ (Daniel 4:17). Certainly He rules in His kingdom.’
"How we need to ever be on guard, lest we allow our minds, emotions, etc. to become distracted with the turmoil of this world, for its CARES, pressures, evil, etc. will choke the life of the new order which He would bring to fruition within us. We are making a transition into a new age. Current upheavals in every fragment of society speak of the death-throes of one order, and the birth-pangs of the new that shall emerge in due time, and please know that we are called for a time such as this. This is a travail that has become worldwide. Praise God, when HIS DIVINE ORDER has been established in us, and all the distractions are removed, we shall find that we have received both the King and His kingdom within—and we will enter into a new realm of life and victory. Only God can take us from the state of being ‘full of care’ to where we are anxious over nothing...’" (Letters of Truth, No. 276 pg. 4).
As for that new realm of life and victory, permit me to share one of three experiences I had awhile back:
While in bed one morning with my eyes closed, and after awaking from a good night’s sleep, I was awed by what I had slipped into. It was clear that although I was still in my bed and fully awake, I was also in a vista of trees, grass, flowers, mountains, and streams; yet all this was outside our bedroom where these things had never existed before. I was amazed that distance was not a factor during this time. I was able to see the blades of grass, petals of flowers, and pebbles upon the mountain slopes and meadows 50 miles away as easily as those in my immediately presence. I perceived everything in such a brilliant, bright array of colors and with infinite detail. I was one with it all and had never known such peace, a peace that passed understanding. I knew I was awake, that it was neither a dream nor was it a vision—it was a reality that was in me, but I had never before known or see it.
After several minutes of flowing in this sublime bliss, a thought invaded my mind, and I wondered: "How long can I remain in this state of being?" This was my undoing; for instantly, it was like a light switch was turned off, and I was back to what I had formerly assumed was the real world. Everything was dull, drab, boring, and lifeless in comparison. I could still vaguely picture what I had seen and experienced, that is, enough to write these few words about it; but there was no way visualize it clearly or get it back. For the first time, I realized what a lowered state in which we exist, and how impossible it is to form an image in our minds remotely close to the realm of life that is already in each of us that is awaiting the hour to be released. What I had experienced came from within. It had been there for how long, I do not know; but it was and is still there. It is in each of His called and chosen, and it is in this, in Him, that we will in due season move and have our being while our feet are still on earth.
Brethren, I am sure that this is only a small portion of what is in store for us, that which will come at the perfect time and season. So let us not be impatient while we heed what Jesus said about some of the evil that will precede it: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34 (KJV). And "...do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34, (NRSV).
The worriers are too easily swayed and caught up in the desolation of the moment to see the Glory they bring. And truthfully, I don’t know if they will ever change. It is a sure bet that they will not as long as they insist on treading out the bitter winepress of their sorrows and perpetual woes.
It can be a difficult pit from which to climb. But we do not lose hope; for we know our Lord Jesus. We know His patience, His mighty working power, and saving grace in the most seemingly futile situations. And like Him, we do not cast aside these dear ones whose focus has been captivated by such desolation that Mount Horeb presents. With anxious anticipation we await the hour when their cry of distress is turned into laughter, when they lift up their voices and sing about the majesty of the Lord. Isaiah 24:14. We look to the day when Martha’s cry will be no more of sorrow and lamenting, but a cry of great rejoicing, of victory, and of freedom. Moreover, such triumph comes upon seeing the glory of the Lord in the fire rather than the desolation of God’s Mountain.
Not only they, but we too, and all who have known the barren and desolate places of Sinai, will hear the reverberating call: "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord." Isaiah 54:1.
In the midst of stunned, numbing, devastation, that the word desolate in the above verse speaks, there is cause to rejoice. The promise is clear. Children will be birthed into the kingdom that was once barren. Upon the rocky slopes where the hollow pain once engulfed our souls, the face of God is seen! His vibrant, life-giving voice is heard! Praise God for HIS HOLY MOUNTAIN—that DESOLATE MOUNTAIN, that MOUNTAIN Called HOREB! For such a time as this are we the called, the CHOSEN, the HANDPICKED PECULIAR PEOPLE to be DISPLAYED in DUE SEASON to the GROANING CREATION!
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