Last week an ABC news article appeared on my Facebook feed. The article was about the opening up of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to tourists. We have previously written about this change in Saudi policy in the blog article Saudi Arabia Opens its Doors. However, this most recent news article has given us more thoughts about this opening up of the Kingdom.
The ABC news article poetically describes Saudi Arabia as a “Hidden Kingdom” that is being “unveiled”.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a closed country to tourists since its formation. It only allowed entry to Muslim pilgrims and foreign workers. However, Saudi Arabia was not “hidden”. It has always been clearly visible on the map. It may have been inaccessible, but it certainly hasn’t been hidden. The ABC would have been better off using the term “closed”, even though this is less poetic.
The opening up of the closed Kingdom draws our attention to the birthplace where the people of Israel became a nation. This is an unveiling of sorts. In turn this illustrates another unveiling that is happening… the unveiling of the Kingdom of God within our midst.
The timing of this is more significant than we may realise.
The Real Mount Sinai
In the north west of present day Saudi Arabia is the ancient land of Midian, where Moses tended the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro. Here we find the Jabal al Lawz mountain range, and within that Jabal Maqla – the mountain associated with Mount Sinai.
There are many archaeological evidences at this location which indicate this to be the site of Mount Sinai, some of which include:
- The Split Rock of Mount Horeb,
- A stone altar at the base of the mountain,
- Petroglyphs of bulls possibly depicting the Egyptian god Apis.
The Birth of a Nation – a Kingdom is Born
It is to Mount Sinai that Moses led the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt. Here, at this mountain, the Israelites received the Ten Commandments, and God established a covenant between Himself and the people of Israel. At this mountain the people of Israel became a nation… a kingdom was born.
A nation, or kingdom, requires three things:
- There must be a people,
- A code of law, and therefore a God – as the ultimate source from which law derives its authority defines the God of the governed,
- There must be a covenant between the people and their God.
At Mount Sinai the Almighty God gave His Law, summarised in the Ten Commandments, to the people of Israel. It was here that the Almighty God formed the covenant between Himself and the Israelites, and the people agreed to its terms. As a result the people became a nation.
This opening up of Saudi Arabia is drawing our attention to the birthing of the ancient nation of Israel. We see a connection between this birthing and the manifestation of the Kingdom of God on the earth today.
Are the experiences of the ancient Israelites at Mount Sinai relevant to our situation today? If so, how do we practically apply this in our own Christian walk?
The Golden Calf – a Battle of the Gods
At Mount Sinai God made a covenant with Israel. Shortly after this the faithfulness of the Israelites was challenged, and we see a battle between two Gods – the Almighty God and the Golden Calf.
Whilst Moses is up on the mountain communing with the Almighty God and receiving the law, down at the base of the mountain, in the camp of Israel, the Israelites were forming another god… the Golden Calf.
The two Gods both claimed to have brought the people up out of Egypt.
Today our nation is engaged in a similar battle… a battle to determine who is God.
The Golden Calf is Alive Today
The worship of the Golden Calf is as alive today as it was in the time of the Israelites. Today we see the Golden Calf displayed in the financial centres of the world… New York, Amsterdam and Shanghai. We have written about this previously in our post Choosing Between Aquarius and Wall Street’s Charging Bull.
The Golden Calf is the god that claims that man is the source of his own prosperity, and that he can manifest the Kingdom by his own means independent from the Almighty God.
In Australian society we see this battle playing out in the following ways:
- Queen Elizabeth II, despite having taken an oath to maintain the Laws of God and to defend the faith, gives Royal Assent to legislation that directly opposes the Laws of God and that seeks to destroy the Christian faith,
- The Australian Federal Parliament commences each sitting in prayer, yet actively produces legislation that opposes the God to whom they pray,
- The Australian Judiciary commences each legal year with an ecumenical church service recognising the Almighty God as the only source of true justice, yet within the walls of the court room refuse to recognise His authority.
The Golden Calf represents the power of man acting independently of the Almighty God… in effect the Golden Calf is “man as God”.
As a nation, we are rejecting the Almighty God as our one true God, and thereby we embrace the Golden Calf, just like the ancient Israelites did at the base of Mount Sinai.
The Golden Calf is a Mute Power
Let us remember what happened to the Golden Calf, and to those who worshipped it. Let us remember what a mute power the calf really was. May this encourage each of us today.
Let us see that the power that we perceive our modern day Golden Calf to have is really no power at all.
Overcoming the Golden Calf today requires that we place our total focus on the Almighty God, worshipping Him alone and trusting fully in His faithfulness. We can not serve two masters.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is oneDeuteronomy 6:4
The Take Away
The opening up of Saudi Arabia has brought our attention back to the place and time where the people of Israel became a nation. We have seen how this event parallels with the manifestation of the Kingdom of God today. It is unveiling a hidden kingdom… the one that has always been within our midst – the Kingdom of God.
Just as the ancient nation of Israel faced the challenge of the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai, we are facing that same challenge today.
May we critically consider which God it is that we are truly worshipping.
The photo of Mount Sinai at the top of this blog post is courtesy of Andrew Jones from discoveredsinai.com