One of the most powerful images in the Bible is that of Moses meeting with God on Mount Sinai. Exodus 33:11 says that God met with Moses "face to face, as a man speaks to his friend". What favor! That is the most intimate kind of relationship! We also read that Moses desired to see the glorious presence of the Lord, and to know the ways of YHWH so he could understand Him more fully. God promised to go personally with Moses, but could not allow him to see His face, for the glory of God was so powerful, that no man could look upon him and survive. But God invited Moses to stand near Him "on the Rock". He promised that He would call out His Name as He passed by, hiding Moses in the cleft of the Rock, and covering him with His hand until He had passed by, therefore protecting Moses from the power of His glory. And so we see the safety and deliverance that the cleft of the Rock provides. In essence, this cleft represents a covenant between YHWH and Moses
I am currently reading an amazing book, written by Anne Hamilton, titled Hidden in the Cleft: True and False Refuges. This book is one of a series of books in which the author's goal is to share how to reach new thresholds in our relationship with God. This is particularly interesting to me, because I know this life is a journey of growing into the image of Christ, which means reaching new levels of identity and harmony with the Lord as we mature into our "Oneness" with Him. So, I wanted to share some new insights I have received and expand on them as my spirit responds in excitement.
First, let's consider the fact that this cleft in the Rock on Mount Sinai provided Moses with a refuge or shelter from the power of God's glory as He passed by. That concept of both the Father and Christ being "our refuge" runs throughout the Bible. The Psalms give us so many powerful verses that encourage our souls and spirits as we face some anxious and worrisome days ahead. Psalm 62:8 says, Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 27:5 says, For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. And then there's Psalm 91:4, which declares, He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Finally, consider Psalm 18:30: This God -- His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.
The Hebrew word for "refuge" is machceh. It means a shelter; hope; trust; [the place of] shelter, which will have further significance as I show you a bigger picture of the Cleft in the Rock. It comes from the root word chacah, meaning to flee for protection; to confide in; to make a refuge; to have hope. And it's important to understand that it was the cleft in the rock that was Moses's refuge. That might mean seem obvious and you may be wondering why I keep reinforcing it.
To begin with, the concept of being hidden in the cleft of the Rock is repeated over and over. Moses was not the only one! As Anne Hamilton points out in her book, the prophet Elijah not only hides from Ahab in the cleft of Cherith, but later hides from Jezebel in the cleft of Horeb, [which is Mount Sinai, where Moses experienced covenant with YHWH]. But let's see who else was hidden in clefts ... Samson hid from the Philistines in a cleft in the rock of Etam (Judges 15:8). Jeremiah hid a linen belt in a cleft in the rock at Perath (Jeremiah 13:7) as a demonstration that the people of Judah would be ruined wherever they hid, because they had covenanted with idols. Yet he later exhorts the people of Moab to flee from their cities and, like the dove, make a nest in the clefts of the rock (Jeremiah 48:28). We also see Solomon speaking of his betrothed as a dove hiding in the cleft of a rock (Song of Solomon 2:14).
Notice all the references to clefts in the Rock and doves. It's a picture not only of the Holy Spirit abiding within the Rock, which is Jesus, but a beautiful image of the Bride of Christ. Before I continue, I want you to understand that the Hebrew word for "cleft" is n'qarah, which means "a fissure", which is a long, narrow opening or line of breakage, as in a rock. The root of n'qarah is naqar meaning "penetrate, pierce, thrust out". Because Christ is our refuge, it's not difficult to see that, like Moses, we are invited to be hidden from the Enemy in the cleft, the cut in His side! But how is it possible to hide in this cleft/cut in the Rock?
For that understanding, let us consider Nicodemus's conversation with Jesus in John 3. Jesus tells this member of the Sanhedrin that No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Our natural birth comes with the breaking of water and the coming of blood. Since Nicodemus was present at Jesus's crucifixion, did he realize the significance of those words as he watched the Roman soldier's spear thrust and penetrate Jesus's side, causing a cut where blood and water gushed forth? Did he realize that he was now witnessing a parallel to a natural birth, and it was a spiritual birth?
Do we see that Jesus died to bring about a new birth from Heaven? That this cut in the side of the crucified Christ is "the cleft in the Rock", and when we enter by faith into that wound, we are not only born again but we are hidden from the power of the Enemy. Just like Moses, we have access to the cleft in the Rock, where we find refuge and a hiding place; where we covenant with our God and can shelter beneath the shadow of His wings. And it is the position of covenant in that cleft that determines if we are abiding in true refuge; if we are truly hidden in Christ.
Because, my friends, I believe the Lord is telling me to speak to His followers and encourage all of you to make sure that you have abandoned the world and its false refuges and securities and what it means to make God your refuge and hiding place, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your Redeemer, your Savior, and your guide. In the words of Thomas of Kempen, a medieval religious leader, Let all your thoughts be with the Most High, and direct your humble prayers unceasingly to Christ. If you cannot contemplate high and heavenly things, take refuge in the Passion of Christ, and love to dwell with His Sacred Wounds. For if you devoutly seek the Wounds of Jesus and the precious marks of His Passion, you will find great strength in all troubles. And troubles are certainly threatening us in the coming days, months, and even years ahead. Find your refuge in Christ, and enter the place of hiding He has provided. And like Moses, you will behold His Glory!
Psalm 34:8-9 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need.