Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,

                        lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" 

            Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 

            He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. 

                                                                                      (Isaiah 40: 9-11)   RSV


If we were to walk into any gathering of believers on earth and compare its make-up now with what it was a year ago, or five years ago, we'd discover that a sizeable number of those who were around five years ago have either fallen by the wayside or have sunk into stagnation. And we can be certain that a percentage of those who seem to be func­tioning in the Body today will fall away as time goes on.


But what is it that enables some to keep right on going?


- They never get dull.

- They never wear out.

- Always fresh.

- Their bodies age, but their inner man is renewed day-by-day.


Is it because they're stupid?


Is it because their minds are so limited that they naively go on believing the Bible while the more sophisticated minds progress into "broader truths" and lose their faith?


Is it because these simple saints are preserved behind walls erected by the believing community so that the temptations of the world can't ensnare them?


Granted, there are people who are imprisoned in fellow­ships and churches happily running around in religious circles and never see the light of reality until the day they die. But those who endure as genuine disciples of Jesus are not these pitiful souls whose minds have been isolated from reality by institutional walls, or doctrinal chains. On the con­trary, the enduring disciples are those who have learned to live, not behind walls, but up on the mountain where they are exposed to God and man.


If there is any lesson we need to learn at this hour it's to,

                come out of our hiding places,

   leave our valleys and caves,

               forsake our secret chambers,

and climb up the mountain where we have to be out in the open before God and man.


After Moses ran away from Egypt to escape for his life, he spent forty years in the wilderness of Midian and Sinai. He probably wasn't even conscious of the fact that on this particular day he was taking his flock across a high mountain. Here he had his first direct encounter with the God of Israel at the burning bush.


- God didn't have to bring Moses up on that mountain in order to speak to him.


- God could have spoken to Moses anywhere.


- Nor did God later on have to bring Moses to the summit of this same mountain to give him the Ten Commandments.


- Nor did Jesus have to take Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain apart to be trans­figured before their eyes.


Yet the mountain becomes the setting again and again for God's redemptive dealings with men.


"Seeing the crowds he went up on a mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them saying, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit....'"


"Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted."


When Jesus wants to get apart with his Father, how often he goes up into a mountain.


            - When he wants to teach, he climbs a mountain.


- If he wants to reveal something to his followers, he takes them into a mountain.


- When he lays down his life, his body hangs on top of a mountain - a hill called Golgotha.


- Or, when he leaves his disciples to return to the Father he does so from the Mount of Olives.


Nobody ever went down lower in order to touch human beings where they really are than Jesus. He was down where the suffering was. There was no pain or desolation he failed to touch and absorb into himself. And yet, even while he walked through valleys of sorrow our Lord's dwelling place was the mountain.


It has to be the same with us.


- We are to be down on earth with our feet on the ground.


- We are to share the pain of this sin-sick race.


- We are to pick up the burdens of those who have been wrecked by this world's evil.


But all the while we are to dwell on the mountain.


"Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings;"


1. To get up into the high mountain is to live a life exposed to God.


Now you can say, "But our lives are exposed to God. Nothing is hid from him." And that's true. But while God sees into our hearts, he lets us go right on with our little pretend game. He lets us continue our hypo­crisy right up until judgment day, unless we willingly open ourselves up to him and ask him to search us.


"Search me and know my heart, Try me and know my thoughts, And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting."


- God isn't going to do that unless you ask him to.


Most of us are not consciously exposing ourselves to God's light. We're not even facing the truth God has already shown us about ourselves. Perhaps I know very well God has put his finger on an attitude I have but I won't admit it. I go right on dressing up that attitude in phony reasons.


"I'm not stubborn. I'm firm!"


Or, I know the Spirit of the lord has brought before my mind the face of a person I have refused to forgive. But have I admitted it and cried for mercy and help? No, instead, I push that face down into my unconscious and forget it.


After a while we have ourselves convinced that the Lord doesn't really see what's going on. Why should he bother? He has too many other things on his mind. Judas no doubt figured that Jesus was quite gullible.


"If he really knows what I'm up to, how come he lets me get away with all this?"


The person who has once seen the light of God in the face of Jesus and goes back to covering and hiding and masking everything he does soon becomes the victim of his own deceit, believes his own lies. He doesn't know who he is any more.


When God says,


"Get you up to a high mountain,"


he means come up out of all that deceit and stand before me as you really are, and live up there in my light all the time.


The Spirit he has put in us that cries, "Abba, Father," is the Spirit of Truth. He not only shows us the truth about God, he also shows us the truth about ourselves. And when we begin to see the truth about ourselves the blood of the Lamb remains our only hope.


We need to get up on the mountain and stay there so that the Lord can show us the things we need to see and tell us the things we need to hear: God help us to climb out of the shadows every morning and get up where God's light shines and where God's wind blows the clutter out of our minds.


2. To get up into the high mountain is to live a life exposed to Man.


You are the light of the world.

A city set upon a hill cannot be hid.


How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings.   

(Even the feet are exposed. You know where he's coming from.)


0 Jerusalem that bringest good tidings, Lift up thy voice with strength.

Lift it up, be not afraid. Say unto the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"


- The things of God that are in the heart will be spoken when we live lives that are open and exposed before men.


Down in the valley we can live behind a front. Men may look at that front and be impressed. But on the mountaintop, how can you hide behind a front? You're exposed on all sides.


- So, they will have to see a forgiven sinner.


- They will have to see God's grace resting upon weak flesh.


- They will have to hear good tidings coming from a vulnerable human being, and they will have hope.


Down in the valley you can keep your mouth shut and go about your business and reserve your God-talk for when you're among believers. But up on the mountain you have to give a reason for the hope that is in you be­cause people will constantly be shouting,


"What are you doing up there, fool?"


"Why are you standing on the mountain?"


"Do you think you're better than the rest of us?"


And you won't bother to defend yourself. You'll lift up your hands and say to them,


"Behold your God! Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."


It's never comfortable to be standing on the mountain ex­posed to the sight of men, always out in the open. But it keeps us on our toes, prevents us from stagnating.


3. Finally, to get up into the high mountain is to live a life that waits for the Messiah.


"Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand.... And his arm shall rule for him.

Behold his reward is with him, And his work before him.

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, He shall gather the lambs with his arm."


And we're up there looking for him,


- not like the Millerites gathering on the mountain on a certain day and hour waiting for the Messiah to fit into their calculators,


- not an escape from this world,


but a hope that gives our life in this world its meaning, and keeps us from being misled.


If we are really waiting for the Lord Jesus, convinced that nothing less than his return will bring justice to the earth,


- we don't get caught up in short cuts to glory,


-we don't get misled by dreams of man-made utopias that always end up resembling hell instead

  of heaven,


- nor do we settle for a substitute heaven which some ingrown "Christian com­munities" are

  trying to be.


We hold fast the vision of the Lord's return. We live for it, and die for it.


     "Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings;"


If we're losing our sense of direction,

If we're falling asleep,

If we're growing weary,

If we're getting confused,


the cure is to get up into the high mountain, exposed to the light of God,


                                                                             exposed to the sight of men,


     and live there until the Lord comes.