The Bare Soul - August 16, 2009
God's Mountain Men -
Part II

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "God's Mountain Men" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on August 13, 2009.

God's Mountain Men - August 13, 2009

Genesis 22:2 - He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."

As a boy, some of my favorite reading were biographies. In particular, I very much enjoyed stories of the western expansion in America. Tales of mountain men such as Jedediah Smith and Jim Bridger would make me dream of running away to the mountains to live as a hermit amongst the savages, selling my fur pelts to the highest bidder. The proverbial call of the mountains can be just as strong as the call of the sea, setting in motion these "dreamers" of a bygone era with hopes to live independently and at the same time strike it rich with the wealth the streams and rivers would offer. Their goals were often to remain fiercely independent with no one telling them how to live their lives. This isolation more often ended up badly for the majority of mountain trappers as they were either killed by Indians, avalanches, rockslides, or an assortment of other tragedies that were symptomatic of their aloneness.

In comparison, we see another "mountain man" who millenniums before heard the voice of God and chose to give up his own agenda for that of the Lord's. Abraham's 600 mile trek from Mesopotamia along with his nephew Lot in chapter 12 of the book of Genesis came to a parting of ways for the two in chapter 13. Abraham saw the wisdom of them separating since their herds had become too large for them to dwell together. The scripture states: So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:11-12). The land of Canaan referred to is a rugged area full of hills and mountains far less habitable than the Jordan valley which his nephew had chosen. Water was not in abundance for the flocks and herds in the hills and the mountains, yet God's promise to Abraham was that He would bless him and make him a mighty nation (Genesis13:14-17). While Lot chose the "easier, softer way" of the valley, Abraham chose the more difficult life knowing that God would bless him regardless.

Abraham was unmoved by mountains because he lived amongst them by choice. Later, when God told Abraham to ascend Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son Isaac,  there is no mention of the patriarch arguing with God but he set off with his son in obedience. As we know from this familiar story, God was merely testing Abraham's faith to see if he would truly obey Him in all things. Conversely, we read in Genesis 19:17 that Lot was moved to retreat and hide in the mountains as he fled for his life due to his compromising lifestyle: When they had brought them outside, one [of the angels] said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away. God has juxtaposed two characters in this lesson from His word, showing us that those two different embraces -- one of obedience resulting in blessing, the other in compromise resulting in a flight of fear of God's judgment. The end of Lot's compromised state is a sad tale of loneliness and incest while hiding out in the depths of the mountains that he once shunned (Genesis 19:30-38).

As believers, we are continually bombarded with choices in our sensual, sin-soaked western culture. Many of those that would seek to follow the Lord might think that living in the proverbial mountains of faith is a hard life fraught with isolation from the glitz and the glamour of our 21st century living. That would be true. However, once we separate ourselves from the compromise and the allure of the world, then God takes us aside as He did Abraham and He promises His blessings upon our lives. While some might believe this is the life of loneliness, it is ironically the life filled with fellowship and the camaraderie of all those who have likewise chosen a mountain man lifestyle. The striking truth regarding those who seek to live in the comfort and compromise of this world find that they are the ones who will one day, like Lot, seek the shelter of the mountains that could have formed the character they so desperately needed. Unfortunately, for many it will be too late at this juncture. May we all, like Abraham, seek to live as God's mountain man -- not compromising with the world but joyously submitting to God in all instances and watching as His marvelous life blesses not only us and our families but all those whom we would encounter. The choice is ours today.

Heavenly Father, make us true children of Abraham, unwavering in our decision for you. Allow us to shun the pleasures of the rich valleys of this earth and let us learn character by living with You in the mountains of your choosing, producing character and obedience and finding favor in Your presence. For without faith and obedience it is impossible to please You. Allow us Your grace in this endeavor. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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