I’ve been a Christian all my life, but sometimes things that should have been obvious before hit me for the first time. Today as I was reading in Exodus, the words jumped off the page that Moses wandered over to Horeb—THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD.
This isn’t the first mountain mentioned in the Bible, but I can’t imagine any higher honor you could bestow on one. Moriah and Ararat were kind of a big deal, but this—THIS is the mountain of God.
So I did a little searching to see where else this mountain comes up. The context I was reading was the appearance of the burning bush, which is already exciting. Right off the bat I realized this is what I always thought was Mt. Sinai. (I guess it must have really been the mount at Sinai all along. Oops.) So this is where Moses receives the 10 commandments and the covenant, where he sees a glimpse of God’s glory, where God speaks to the people of Israel and they are terrified and beg not to deal directly with Him. It was at the foot of this mountain where the golden calf was built. The covenant and its breaking happened in the same place at the same time at the mountain of God.
But it gets better.
This is also the mountain Elijah flees to in 1 Kings 19:8, where Elijah also speaks with God. So Moses and Elijah both spoke with God at Horeb—no one else is specifically mentioned in the Bible as having done so. Is it any coincidence that Moses and Elijah will speak with God again—together—at the mount of Transfiguration?
But that’s not all.
Horeb is also where Moses struck the rock and water flowed out (Exodus 17:6). How did I not see this? The rock Moses struck was on the mountain of God! Water flowed out from the rock on the mountain of God! Water would flow from another rock somewhere else, and Moses wasn’t supposed to strike that rock; there was something unique about striking this one. This rock—and I won’t get into the relationship between the mountain and the rock because you get the picture—was on the mountain of God. God’s presence was there, Immanuel—God with us. Moses has become synonymous with the Law, and Moses strikes this rock. Water flows out for the life of the people of God.
Where else have I heard a rock stricken, out of which flowed water for life? Jesus—the stone the builders rejected—stricken for our sake, punished under the law even though He was innocent. Jesus, the One who promised living water that we may drink and never die (John 4). By His wounds we are healed.
But this water isn’t just associated with life but with the Holy Spirit, the counselor who would come after Jesus departed (John 16:7). He is sometimes symbolized by water. The Holy Spirit would not be “poured out” upon us unless and until the rock had been stricken.
God could have provided water for His people any way He wanted, but He chose this specific image because of what it would come to mean later. And so just as the covenant was made and broken on one mountain, so it would be kept and restored on another mountain—Golgotha.