THE MOMENT BEFORE
Location: The Wilderness, near Mt Sinai, one hour after sunrise on the 5th day of Ziv. Joshua of Nun has just entered the Tent of Meeting bringing new parchments for Moses to record Yahweh’s instructions …
Falling to the ground, the young man’s body trembles uncontrollably, his breathing rapid and short. With every sense alert and pounding heart echoing in his ears, he concentrates on stilling his heart. The smell of smoke merging with fragrant anointing oil pervades the atmosphere.
Concentrate … breathe, he counsels himself. Deliberately breathing in deeply, the raging effects of his flesh’s reaction to the Almighty’s presence begin to diminish. Filling his nostrils again, the alluring aroma carries him into ecstasy. Yielding to the visitation, awe and reverence replace the terror of Yahweh’s sudden appearance. The man’s prostrated form is canopied in unapproachable light, light that probes and penetrates to the depths of his soul to the verge of translation - its pure power swirling within and through his being, transporting him to realms of heavenly glory.
When He is here words seem so inappropriate … even futile. His glory … His presence … Finding it impossible to converse under the weighty glory of Yahweh’s presence, Joshua attempts to rationalize his predicament.
Am I not more privileged … honoured above my fellow Israelites?
Another wave of glory washes over Joshua - pulsating light throbbing through his body; Yahweh’s nearness causes his heart to race wildly again.
It’s no small thing to be privy to the intimate conversations of God and Moses … where mysteries are fathomed, revelations discussed and intercession turns a nation’s tide... The young man marvels at the peculiar honour in his appointment of Moses’ aide and his mandatory presence during Yahweh’s visitations.
Joshua tries to lift his head, desiring to respond.
When Yahweh comes I am undone. I can’t bear His presence but I find it impossible to depart. His presence is terrifying and enthralling at the same time ... His words fill my ears like the rush of a mighty waterfall, roaring … thundering in intensity and unfathomable power but simultaneously exuding love and kindness …
“Lord, how is Moses able to stand in your presence?” Finally, words escape Joshua’s lips. “How does Moses survive … talking to You, Lord, in the same manner a man talks with his friend?” Unable to hold his head up any longer, Joshua rests his head again on the floor and tries to still his heart, waiting, listening … but his heart is on fire, awakened and pulsating with desire. Tears sting Joshua’s eyes as the cry of his heart overwhelms him, the passion of desire to know Him profoundly - to know the voice of Yahweh.
An intensity of the presence overshadows Joshua as Yahweh’s voice proceeds from the cloud that had filled the Tent the moment of His entrance.
“Joshua son of Nun, do not be afraid or discouraged for I will be with you wherever you go, wherever your foot shall tread, I shall give into your hand. Serve well your master, Moses, and prepare yourself for leadership. For you will succeed Moses and lead this great people into the land I promised to your forefathers. Linger in My presence and learn from Me.”
As Joshua lay motionless after the encounter, unable to talk or move, his thoughts turn to Moses … I am chosen to hear and observe these scared trysts. Moses is making haste here now. He will have seen the pillar of fire falling on the Tent of Meeting, his heart will be irresistibly drawn by Yahweh’s presence … and the burning passion of his heart to meet Him again, face to face …
Author’s note: The inspiration for this story is based on Exodus 33: 7-11, in particular Exodus 33:11 “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.”
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