Israel at Mount Sinai
19 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”
When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” And the LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Exodus 19 Commentary
by Hank Workman
3 months into their journey, after walking through the Red Sea they traveled the desert and found themselves at the foot of Mount Sinai. This would be a landing spot for them as this place would be a holy encounter with God. In fact, the rest of the book of Exodus takes place right there.
It would be here God would begin to teach the people of following Him. He would give the 10 Commandments, instruct on their building of a movable tabernacle for worship. This place would become one of Israel’s most sacred places in Israel’s history. For it had been in this vicinity Moses encountered God in the burning bush. It would be here God made His covenant with Israel. It would be in the future Elijah heard God speak through a gentle whisper.
God revealed in His opening words to the people a remarkable aspect of who He was and the calling He had for them as a nation. He reminded them of all He had done in Egypt and how they were no longer slaves. He spoke toward His leading. What would be become a reiteration of truth, He had Moses tell them the integral part of becoming the holy nation unto Him would be obedience.
We need Mount Sinai experiences. We need those reminders to simply stop and look back at the absolute faithfulness of God. Where has He led us this far? What are the miracles of provision and direction? How has God He met us in our own deep time of need?
Too many times we get caught up in the now of things. We look at the current challenge and all too often fail to recall how God has been faithful up to this moment.
Let today become a Mount Sinai reflection. Reflect back on the journey you’ve been so far and see the strand of faithfulness He has given. Recall His goodness. Praise Him for this. But hear His gentle whisper of the future and where He wants to take you. Grasp hold of your calling. Hold faithfully to Him. Worship this God who has loved you so much and rescued from slavery in order that you may follow hard after Him.
Exodus 19 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
When I read how the people trembled with fear at the thunder and lightning, I think about the lion from the Wizard of Oz and how terrified he was. I also wonder if we take the reverence of God casually. Scientifically, trembling in fear is our response to the “fight or flight” mechanism. When adrenaline overwhelms our nervous system, we shake uncontrollably with energy and our mind immediately wants to flee the scene.
Consider the fact that the people did not even see God. They just felt his presence through the dark, dismal, and distant electric cloud. It’s frightening and amazing all at the same time. I’ve said this before, but I think we will all be surprised when we enter into the presence of Almighty God. Some people say things like “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God why he made mosquitoes!”
From what we read in Scripture, it’s more likely your bodily systems will begin the process of shutting down. We will most likely have a hard enough time controlling our tremors, let alone being able to utter one single word. Just about everyone who was confronted by the living God (or the heavenly Christ) fell flat on their faces in terror.
So, I wonder – do we really think about that during a typical day? Do we approach the Father with reverence and fear, or, as a genie in a bottle? Do we marvel at Christ who allows us into God’s presence? Do we even consider the fact that God could wipe us from the Earth faster than we could blink? Finally, do we understand that a Being this powerful loved us enough to redeem our lives for eternity?