It has been three months since the hand of God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian rule. They end up camping in the Wilderness of Sinai. Mount Sinai is known to be the mountain where Moses is told the Ten Commandments of God for His children. The children now come to Mt. Herob where preparations are made to receive God’s Ten Commandments. Some would say that this chapter is the rising action to the climax of this book. It is where we see God preparing to appear to Moses in a thick cloud. We will get a glimpse of God’s divine holiness and love as we read along.
1Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. 2After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.
3Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: 4‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
7So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him.8And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord.
9Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.”
Moses told the Lord what the people had said. 10Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. 11Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. 12Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death. 13No hand may touch the person or animal that crosses the boundary; instead, stone them or shoot them with arrows. They must be put to death.’ However, when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, then the people may go up on the mountain.”
14So Moses went down to the people. He consecrated them for worship, and they washed their clothes. 15He told them, “Get ready for the third day, and until then abstain from having sexual intercourse.”
16On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled.17Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. 19As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply. 20The Lordcame down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain.
21Then the Lord told Moses, “Go back down and warn the people not to break through the boundaries to see the Lord, or they will die.22Even the priests who regularly come near to the Lord must purify themselves so that the Lord does not break out and destroy them.”
23“But Lord,” Moses protested, “the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai. You already warned us. You told me, ‘Mark off a boundary all around the mountain to set it apart as holy.’”
24But the Lord said, “Go down and bring Aaron back up with you. In the meantime, do not let the priests or the people break through to approach the Lord, or he will break out and destroy them.”
25So Moses went down to the people and told them what the Lordhad said.
God here initiates a covenant with His people. God, in his love, chooses or elects Israel in an act of gracious initiative, just as in previous covenant made with the patriarchs. God had already redeemed Israel from Egypt and now his covenant at Sinai becomes a continuation of that act of redemption. There are conditions for this covenant relationship. “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (19:5). Israel had up to this point experienced God’s special acts of deliverance. Would Israel now choose to go it alone, or would they choose to be obedient to God and follow Him wherever He led? How is it with us today; do we give God lip service as His people, but then complain and try to go about our lives without Him? Or will we respond like Israel, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” (19:8)? It was God’s desire at Sinai and today to have the deepest, most profound, and intimate relationship with His created people. We see God using Moses to tell the Israelites to remember the way He has raised them as a nation. Like today, we thank God for the things He has done for us. There is something special about remembering the things God has done for us in the past. By remembering and acknowledging Him we can rely that He can do it again when we find ourselves stuck somewhere. We can be strengthened.
Jesus tells us that if we keep His commandments it is because we love him, that if we do we will hold a special place in his kingdom. And yes, He wants us to keep his Commandments because of love. Jesus kept the commandments because he truly loved his Father and us. Think, keeping the Ten Commandments can free you from many troubles. You will see that by keeping these simple guidelines our lives are transformed and made better. We can live abundant lives in the Ways of the Lord. Moses serves as an example of what God can do in your life. Moses never imagined leading thousands of people down the Red Sea or even speaking to the God of Heavens! He was a humble man searching to strengthen his relationship with God just like most of us here. Notice that Moses went to God (vs. 3) just like we should be willing to go in search of Jesus. When Moses was asked to tell the Israelites that they must consecrate themselves for the presence of God was going to be near them it was big deal. No one today can say they have truly been near the presence of God and physically spoke with Him. Moses and Aaron had that huge privilege! No one else could come near the presence of God or else they die. Man alone could not stand in the presence of God and expect to live. His holiness goes beyond what we can imagine for He is pure and holy. For that reason, being consecrated is so important for us today. The return of Jesus is soon and we must take action, make changes, cling on the promises of Christ, and always go to Christ to help us become more like him. Friends, soon and very soon we will see those clouds come down with the King of all things return for his children just like he promised.
Blessings and best wishes to you,
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.