The Heavens

   Written by on September 27, 2013 at 10:23 am

Nature is God’s greatest evangelist. I saw it do its work many years ago in an Egyptian desert.

crottsMy son and I traveled with a church group to Saint Katherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai.  This is where Moses received the Ten Commandments 3,500 years ago. The monastery is where the oldest full copy of the Bible was found. The monks’ collection of ancient illuminated manuscripts is spectacular.

We rose at 3 a.m. to climb Mount Sinai itself. The reason for the early hour is to beat the heat. Also to top out in time to see the sunrise.

As we trekked up the serpentine trail leading to the summit, I envisioned my small group, all eight of us, being the only ones there. Such thoughts were quickly abandoned as we were passed by a couple of dozen faster hikers.

Reaching the summit after a three and a half hour climb, I was immediately overwhelmed by the black velvet sky and the brilliant Milky Way scattered as diamonds across the universe.

To my surprise about 100 people were atop the peak. Many had camped overnight, drinking heavily and finishing their orgy. Some were naked. There was ribald laughter. Profanity.

A man with an Australian accent yelled out,  “So what’s this bloody place again?”

A drunk slurred, “It’s Mount Sinai where the Ten Commandments were given.”

“What are the bloody Ten Commandments?” he pressed.


I was about to list them myself when another drunk yelled, “I know one!”  And he proceeded with something far more crude than “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”

Laugher ensued.

I wanted to rebuke such sacrilege in a sacred place. But before I could say a word the sun began to rise. As a huge orange fireball it leapt over the horizon. The rocks of Sinai looked as gold in the sudden light.

The bawdy crowd became silent, awestruck.

A group of pilgrims began to sing, “When morning gilds the skies, My heart awaking cries, ‘May Jesus Christ be praised!’”  Some fell to their knees, others stood in reverence at the spectacle.

I opened the Bible and read Psalm 19.  “The heavens declare the glory of God. Day to day pours forth speech. There is no sound yet its voice goes out to all the earth.”

I’d just watched creation speak of the Creator, the Holy One hush our unholiness, the Ancient of Days speak the language of today, beauty proclaim the Beautiful One.

And none of us was hidden from His light. We heard Him loud and clear.

It is ever so.  Even in our cynical, God-hating, narcissistic world.

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at

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