When one thinks of tales of legendary adventures few true stories can match the epic grandeur and the majesty of Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea and achieving victory over Pharaoh’s armies. From there though most of what Hollywood shows us in film and what many of us heard as stories when we were kids do not clarify what happened later. After the crossing of the Red Sea Israel is faced with going through the wilderness, foreign enemies who have large armies and obedience to the directions of their guide and God Jehovah before they can reach the Promised Land of their ancestors. Courage will be tested, the quality of every man and woman will be measured and only the strong, loyal and courageous will survive as most of the Israelites who go through the trials to come do not pass and ultimately die in the wilderness. The question is though…why did so many fall short and so few succeed?
Answer: Their ability to dwell on the mountain in their hearts.
“Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
Although only a few were permitted to go up the mountain and fellowship with God and only Moses was allowed to speak face to face with God ALL were given the invitation to stand at the foot of the mountain! That is where the true test began for Israel.
“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from falling short.” The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
Principle: If you want to ascend to the heights and stand at the top of your mountain…you have to be willing to embrace the basics first. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS! Moses and his team of leaders all went through basic training before they became leaders…a true leader of people will never be bothered about having to continually get better mastering the basics.
There are some literary scholars who have studied the work of J.R.R Tolkien and believe that the dwarves in “The Hobbit” are illustrations of the Jews who throughout history all the way until Israel became a nation in 1948 were on a continual quest to reclaim their homeland. In the Hobbit the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor which once was a realm filled with majesty, glory and pride was brought low and decimated because of the greed of the dwarves who lusted for more gold and treasures…what followed was a war between good and evil over Erebor…eventually evil crept in and a fearsome creature…a dragon named Smaug took over the ruins of Erebor and made his home under the mountain. However there are some good dwarves who refuse to let their kingdom stay in the hands of evil…a band of dwarves and a humble Hobbit named Bilbo quest to return to Erebor to kill the dragon.
One of the main characters in The Hobbit the rightful heir to throne of Erebor, Thorin Oakenshield puts it so wonderfully:
“We are the Dwarves of Erebor…we have come to reclaim our homeland!”
Personal Question: What is your homeland you want to reclaim that your ancestors might have lost?
“It’s the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch…you have to look at the guy next to you look into his eyes now I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you, you are going to see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it you are going to do the same for him…that’s a team gentlemen!”
– Al Pacino (Any Given Sunday)
The words of Al Pacino burn in my mind as I am writing the next phase of this article…it truly takes teamwork, brotherhood and friendship to walk through this crazy thing we call life. Any veteran who has fought in any war knows ultimately one of the main things that got them through the hell of war and the carnage around them was their comradeship with one another. This attitude of “we will all stand in the fire together” was and still is deeply entrenched in the hearts of martyrs and extremists who will died and still die today for what they believe. The Spartan warriors at Thermopylae, the Jews at Masada, the men at the Alamo, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, Joan of Arc refusing to recant and the Dwarves in the fantasy fiction tale “The Hobbit” all rather than cowardly backing away…chose to turn and face their fears…to face their own personal dragon head on.
It is in the fires of purification and pain that we ultimately see the most glorious things. Gold cannot be purified without fire…the same thing goes for a human being. The quality of a man is shown by how much he/she has been burned and how they have dealt with that fire.
“When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you or let it strengthen you.”
KING BENEATH THE MOUNTAIN
After the death of Christ on the cross few people actually know what happened in between then and His resurrection…but the details are quite clear.
Those captives came from Sheol the place of the dead where all the souls of mankind up to that point were held waiting for their Savior to be revealed. After Jesus death on the cross according to legend he descended into hell and took the keys of Hades and death and led a host of captives from the grave to the heavens above. Jesus himself had to go underneath the mountain of the earth first before he could ascend to sit on his mountain throne in the heavens above next to the Father.
In the Hobbit there are two scenarios where the forces of good have to go into the lower parts of the earth in order to achieve the treasure of victory.
1st) Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit and the dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield delve into the heart of Erebor into the lower parts to face Smaug the dragon.
2nd) Gandalf the Grey leads an attack on Dul Guldur “The Hill of Sorcery” and confronts the evil that is veiled there commanding it to come forth and reveal itself from the depths of the fortress.
How can we go under our own mountain so we can eventually rule over top of it?
I’ve asked you the question in which lies I believe is the key to our success. We will never be able to accomplish our destiny without first starting underneath our own mountain. Countless authors, public speakers and people all talk about the glory and greatness of being on the mountain top and how to rule from there…but few people actually talk about starting underneath the mountain. It’s because at the heart of the matter that is where our adversary lives, he is a dragon lurking about guarding a host of treasure declaring “I AM KING UNDER THE MOUNTAIN.” The reason why people don’t talk about this road is because it is a highway seldom traveled where the cost of loss is great and the fanfare is minimal…it was this task that seemed to great for the Israelites as they stared up at Mount Sinai which was filled with fire, smoke and the whirlwinds of the unknown so they turned their back on God and their leader Moses and built for themselves idols of gold and treasure which ultimately blinded them from reality and disqualified them from the Promised Land. In the Hobbit the Dwarves of Erebor Thorin’s ancestors fell for the exact same reason…TREASURE!…Something their eyes could see and that they could admire and worship…
What is the correct response that few valiant hearts are willing to stand on?
“If this is to end in fire…then we will all burn together.”
– Thorin Oakenshield (The Hobbit)
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