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In The Middle


As we begin week two of our quarantine, many of you probably saw or heard that San Antonio is going essentially on lockdown. Other than the grocery store, gas station, or doctor, everyone must stay home during this time. Don't worry, we'll still have our online worship this coming Sunday. We are working out some of the kinks from this past Sunday and hopefully we will come to you live again.

This coming Sunday, I'll be giving Marvin a break on the preaching front and Brandyn will do so the following week. I thought for this morning's blog that I would give a sneak peek of sorts at that I'll be talking about. This coming Sunday, we will be two weeks away from Easter. It looks like there's a 99.9% chance that we will unfortunately not be able to meet for Easter, but that final decision has yet to be made. If we look at what was taking place during Jesus's ministry about two weeks away from His resurrection, it seems like this was around the time that the transfiguration was taking place. This event is recorded in three out of four of the gospels (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). Peter said it best while witnessing this event with James and John, "Lord, it is good for us to be here." (Matthew 17:4) Peter was so thrilled to be witnessing Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus, that he even offered to build shelters for all three of them. He wanted this moment to last forever. We're all like that when something great happens in our lives. We want the moment to last forever. Peter would later write about this event that took place on "the sacred mountain" (2 Peter 1:16-18).

It's fascinating that Peter refers to the transfiguration as THE sacred mountain because the transfiguration took place on Mount Tabor. However, so much of God's interaction with His people came on a mountain that was very far south of Tabor, Mount Sinai. Now the last time people encountered God on Mount Sinai, it wasn't the Israelites as a nation coming to receive the 10 Commandments. That time had long passed. The last time was Elijah, the only true worshipper of God left in the entire nation of Israel. You see, King Ahab had taken over the throne of Israel and he was the most evil king that Israel ever had, literally (1 Kings 16:29-30). Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, spent a good bit of their time killing off the prophets of God and they only had Elijah left. God told Elijah to flee from Ahab and led him into the desert and finally back to Mount Sinai. The story that takes place on top of Sinai between God and Elijah is absolutely incredible, but I'll let you read that for yourself (1 Kings 20).

Have you ever wondered why it was Moses and Elijah who were the ones who were in the transfiguration? Why not David, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Isaiah, or John the Baptist? Here's my theory: Moses and Elijah were the only other ones to personally and literally encounter the presence of God on a mountain. They also both experienced a lot of frustration with the people of God. Moses had to drag them around in the wilderness and then didn't get to enter into the promised land. Elijah was pretty much the only one left who still only worshipped Yahweh. To come to Mount Tabor and be with Jesus and hear the voice of God tell them who He was must have been a MASSIVE relief for them. They spent their lives as prophets who had to speak undesired truths to people who, for the most part, would never listen. God was listening the entire time though and this was His way of showing it to them.

With all of this being said, I don't even think that this is the most amazing part of this story. What I think is amazing is the geography behind these two mountains. Mount Sinai is pretty far down to the south while Mount Tabor is way up north. North and south of what? Jerusalem. Jerusalem is literally the midway point between these two mountains, DOWN TO THE VERY MILE. Jerusalem is where Jesus came in the triumphant entry (which commemorated a week from Sunday), Jerusalem is where the last supper took place. It is where Jesus was arrested, tried, wrongly convicted, crucified, and raised from the dead. Jerusalem is the epicenter of where God did His work on the earth to fulfill His mission through Jesus Christ.

What does this mean to us?

It means that God is present in the Mount Tabor, transfiguration moments ("it is good for us to be here") and it means that God is present in the Mount Sinai moments of total depravity. However, God is doing His work in the middle of all of these moments.

You might feel like you are in a dark place mentally or spiritually. You mean be scared, lonely, anxious, depressed, or a combination of all of these things or something else. God is present in these moments. God was present before COVID-19 and He will still be here after it is all over, but God is doing His work amongst all of this. God is working in the middle of everything going on right now.

As Christ followers, we must be willing to openly declare that God is present in the hospitals, the ICU's, the hallways where they're putting people out. He is present with each of us at home. He is present in all of these things and He is doing His work in the midst of it all. Regardless of where you are mentally or spiritually, remember that God is present and working in your life.

--Casey Lankford