“The knowledge of God is a mountain steep indeed and difficult to climb—the majority of people scarcely reach its base. If one were a Moses, he would ascend higher and hear the sound of trumpets which, as the text of the history says, becomes louder as one advances. For the preaching of the divine nature is truly a trumpet blast, which strikes the hearing, being already loud at the beginning but becoming yet louder at the end.”
~Gregory of Nyssa (335-395)
Just for some context on what Gregory is referring to: the Israelites were at Sinai and Moses was up the mountain hearing from God. And the people also wanted to hear from God, but they weren’t ready. And so, we see this unfold in Exodus 20:18-19—
18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (ESV)
They didn’t want to prepare their hearts. They were comfortable on the plain of Sinai. Moses, you tell us what God says. We’ll just be here doing our thing.
Oh, Church, how so little has changed over the millennia!
What Gregory was talking about is how so many people seem to want to know just the basics about the Lord. He’s not talking about special revelation given only to certain people or the gnostic idea of secret knowledge. No, he’s saying that all of us who would follow Christ have access to a deep relationship with the Lord but many, dare I say most, are not willing to make the climb even to the base of the metaphorical mountain.
This Christmas let us not be satisfied with simply the familiar story of the Savior born in Bethlehem, but let us, like the Magi, travel and seek for our King. Let us plumb the depths of His Word and let us examine our hearts in the silent twinkle of the tree.