Moses was on the mountain with God when the Ten Commandments were given. He had spent an extended period of time alone with God and the result was a message for humanity’s wellbeing and approach to God. The disturbance on the mountaintop would include thunder, lightning and thick darkness.

Instead of being storm chasers people backed away from the mountain. The presence of God made them uncomfortable and afraid. Moses had been on the mountain for forty days and nights, so the people thought he was not coming back. 

In the absence of someone to lead, the people made up their own idea of what was right. Moses came back with a fresh sense of truth and was overwhelmed at what people were settling for.

From this mountain experience Moses came back down to the community and saw that the people were creating a false God and rebelling. Moses was angry and smashed the stone tablets. The aroma of false worship was repelling to him.

The Scriptures are filled with echo events. Old Testament experiences are redefined as they appear again in the New Testament. We realize this when we study typology and symbols.

In the gospels we read the account of Jesus also going up on a mountain with three of his disciples. In the event we call the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus. The resurrected saints and Jesus were bathed in light in a way that overwhelmed the three disciples.  

In the descent from the Transfiguration, we find Jesus having a similar experience to Moses.  Instead of finding that his other disciples were faithful, he found them in failure. In the absence of His leadership, they lacked the authority and faith to carry on the mission successfully. He returned from the mountain to a bothersome stench.

Mark 9:
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

From the mountain with God to the ground below—Jesus finds that his other nine disciples are in a heated argument with the teachers of the Law. A man in the crowd points out that the disciples were incapable of driving out the evil spirit from his son.

What an embarrassing situation for the disciples. They utter the words of deliverance and nothing happens. Maybe they raised their voices more or waved their arms dramatically. Nothing happened. The crowds watch while the teachers of the law step forward to argue that the Name of Jesus has no effect.

There are times when you may encounter God’s presence with power and revelation in a mountain top experience. It is dramatic because we are not usually so aware of the majesty, holiness and power of the Almighty. I have been on the mountain at times and long to climb again. I’ve also been on the ground and retreated back from the mountain. When someone else has a deep experience with God, you may back up with uncertainty toward the effect of his or her experience.

It is easy for us to become accustomed to spiritual failure in ourselves and after awhile not notice the smell of death on our clothes. How many of us would have faith enough to recognize the work of a demon and be able to bring deliverance in Jesus’ name? We are used to saying sorry to people that we think have bigger problems than we can respond to.