Quick joke: How do mountains see? They peak.
God helps me all the time. He is constantly bailing me out in times of trouble. Pastor texted me Saturday to do the sermon on Thursday. Yikes! BUT, THANKS BE TO GOD, I just happened to be studying scripture. Just a coincidence, right? That was another quick joke.
There are many contexts to interpreting scripture. What works for me personally is to interpret scripture by (1.) Reading Jesus into every verse and (2.) read it in the context that it was produced in. The first context is usually fairly easy for me but the second one, not so much. I have to dig deep and research the verse in the language it was written in. For example, for the Old Testament I will actually read it in Paleo Hebrew or ancient Hebrew. And for the New Testament, I will read it in Koine Greek and if it is the Words of Jesus I will study Aramaic. I don’t speak these languages or understand them as I should but I do study them when I have questions.
Speaking of the bible languages, what we have is English. So using what we have, just think about it, the writers themselves wouldn’t understand it. Today’s readings in our language would have confused the prophet and priest Ezekiel, King David, the apostle Paul and even the tax collector often referred to as Levi but better known as the apostle Matthew. Unless it was Pentecost then they would hear it clearly. Jesus would be fine with it in all languages.
Speaking of languages brings me to the Tower of Babel. In Deuteronomy, God’s dispersal of the nations led to Him disinheriting those nations. Their people shunned God so God in turn, shunned them. This changes the course of almost the entire Old Testament. It becomes Israel vs these disinherited nations. When not the main story this always remains as an important backdrop to every event moving forward even into the New Testament.
For most people, this may be the last time they even consider the incident at Babel. But for some of us we realize something when we get to Pentecost. The wind and fire of Pentecost is God. The tongues are God’s word and the Good News of Jesus now going out to all the nations. All nations will again be His. That was and is now and always shall be forever His plan.
Geography is of great importance in our scripture. A great example of this is Mount Hermon. The name Hermon is actually a complicated verb instead of a noun. It could mean “Destined for destruction” or “Set aside for a sacred purpose.” Mount Hermon is actually a range that has has three distinct summits. Mount Hermon was known as the “Eyes of the nation” due to it’s altitude making it Isreal’s primary strategic early warning system. In Deuteronomy 3 we read about God leading the Israelites to do battle against a King on this mountain. This King named Og is a giant. He may have been a solid 4 feet taller than Goliath! A giant, who is a descendant of the rebellious fallen angels. Moses and the Israelites faced giants many times. Moses and the Israelites (with God’s help) defeated King Og. In Psalm 68 God desires to dwell on this mountain and His plan is to dwell on it permanently. The Book of Giants and The Book of Enoch are apocryphal Jewish books. These books are not considered canon or divinely inspired but in them, there are actually details given to support these scriptures. The fallen angels descend from Mount Hermon to steal wives and declare war on mankind.
When we read about the Transfiguration of Jesus it is interestingly only in 3 of the 4 gospels. It is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and even 2nd Peter but not in the Gospel of John. Which is fine with me because Jesus is always transfigured in what John wrote. Just re-read chapter 1 for yourselves. Where the Transfiguration of Jesus took place is not specified but if you follow the journey of Jesus geographically from the hints found in Matthew and Mark it is easy to pinpoint the Transfiguration to Mount Hermon. God’s desires from Psalm 68 are fulfilled. Jesus dwelt on Mount Hermon, Jesus transfigured there. Jesus reveals Himself as God as well as the Living Structure that connects Heaven and Earth. Two or more were gathered in His name. Two from Heaven – Elijah and Moses and three from Earth – Peter, James and John. All of these witnesses allowed to see the Face of God – His glorious image and His earthly image at the same time. Jesus who manifests His Heavenly glory with two witnesses from Heaven gives us a Heavenly representative for each of it’s three peaks. It is Holy Ground! God now dwells their permanently! The sin that dwelled on Hermon was destined for destruction so it could be set aside for it’s sacred purpose so the complicated name fits.
What does this have to do with our Gospel or our readings today? Let’s find out.
Ezekiel is a call to warn others of the threat of evil in the form of constant spiritual warfare and to spread the the Word of God. Share the Good News!
Our Psalm is a call to confess your sins and how to successfully confront those same sins. Humble yourself before God!
Our Epistle tells us we are in subjection to God. We need to get right with God before we can get right with any governing authorities. We are nothing without God! We are lost without God!
Our Gospel tells us to humble ourselves before God in prayer and to care for our church family because if one should become lost from our family it is God’s plan that they are destined to be in His presence and behold His glory in eternity. We are set aside for a sacred purpose. His sacred purpose. We are all children of God! Jesus is the greatest! God is the greatest!
Sin and the devil have managed a foothold in us and all over this world. A foothold is an advancement in one’s military position.
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have built strongholds against every one of these footholds. A stronghold is an actual structure built to resist attack. His grace inside of us is our stronghold.
There is a constant spiritual battle going on around us FOR US. We are warriors in this battle. We need to be aware, be watchful and work together as Christian Soldiers. We need our church – that is another of our strongholds. We need to go to church and support our church. We need our Pastor. We need our scripture. WE NEED GOD!
Look to each other. Look who is sitting next to you. We need each other. We are true believers and are on Holy Ground. More than two of us have gathered here in His Holy Name, so JESUS IS WITH US! GOD IS WITH US! GOD DWELLS IN THIS STRONGHOLD, HIS CHURCH! GOD DWELLS IN THIS ARMY, OUR CONGREGATION! GOD DWELLS IN US FOREVER!
His grace is always at work in us and will never stop. Jesus made a home for Himself in each of us and will return again one day and make a home for Himself with us. Let Him return to see our Faith at work! Instead of a building like Babel built by man reaching to Heaven, God’s entire Holy City in the New Jerusalem will descend upon us. Our church represents His coming Holy City. We need to go to church. It’s that simple.
We are on the front lines of a spiritual war and if God is with us who can be against us? In the presence of God, as Children of God, wherever we stand is Holy Ground! GOD ALWAYS WINS! USE HIS GRACE INSIDE YOU AND KEEP THE FAITH! GOD BLESS YOU ALL IN JESUS’ NAME!