Imagine this. It is the 2nd millennium, B.C., at a place between Egypt and Canaan on the Sinai Peninsula. Moses, a prophet of Yahweh and the king/leader of Israel, is about to leave Israel at the foot of Mt. Sinai while he ascends the mountain to receive revelation from Yahweh. Before Moses leaves the Israelites, Moses gives them one last revelation: “The Lord has said, ‘Behold, I am coming in a thick cloud upon the mountain. Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.’” The commandment from the Lord resonates throughout the millions watching, and the very ground begins to shake from the fearful trembling of the Israelites. One in multitude exclaims, “How holy is Yahweh the God of Israel that even the dirt around his presence will kill a man!” The exclamation is echoed by a quick and unified “Amen!”, and Moses begins to ascend the mountain.
The moment that Moses is out of site and in the presence of the Lord, three groups within the Israelites think of three different ways to respond to the holiness of God that they had just beheld.
The first group was made up of Israelites who had the gift of entrepreneury, and they built a trading stand at the edge of the mountain. At the stand they began to sell things that would help the Israelites remember that the Lord is holy. One of the things that they sold was a coffee mug that had a picture of mountain with a cloud around it; another was a stuffed Moses for the kids that when one pulled a string it said, “Stay away from the mountain, or you’ll die!” Another was a picture of a bridge beside the cloud-covered mountain by famous Israelite painter, Thomak Chichade, and also a t-shirt that said, “What has two thumbs and thinks that the Lord is holy? This guy!”
The second group was gifted artists, and they began to paint different things that portrayed the holiness of God to them. Some simply painted the cloud-covered mountain that Moses ascended; some added a dead person beside the edge of the mountain. Some painted a picture of a bull, explaining that it reminded them of the strength of the Lord. Some painted pictures of the sun, citing that it reminded them of the Egyptian god Ra whom they believed was the closest Egyptian god to the Lord. And some painted pictures of a man since they felt that God had condescended himself to them. They hung their paintings of the holiness of God all around the Israelite camp–in the children’s tents, in front of the altar, and even in the latrines, so that the people could always see a visual representation of the holiness of the Lord.
The third group was a group of gifted dramatists who had a knack for throwing return parties. They said, “Hey, let’s plan a return party for Moses for when he gets back from speaking to the Lord, and we’ll promote it by putting on a drama!” They decided that the best way to promote Moses’ return party was to imagine how the Lord would promote a return party. And that’s what they did. The party planning dramatists built a stage at the edge of the mountain and gathered the people of Israel together. They pulled back the curtains, and their promotion drama began. The scene looked like the top of a mountain with thick fog around it. On its peak was a man prostrate with his face looking upward. Out from nowhere, it seems, a deep voice says, “Moses!” The man lying on the mountain peak says, “Speak Lord, I am listening.” The voice says, “Moses, Moses, you have been up here receiving my commandments for weeks, and the people of Israel miss you a lot. Moses, they miss you so much that they are throwing a party celebrating your return, and it is going to be out of this world. Moses, everyone who is of the people of Israel should come to this party. It is going to be awesome. Thus says me, the Lord.” And thus the party was promoted via dramatization.
To be continued…