The Israelites have finally made it to Mount Sinai. The Israelites camped out here for several months, so all next week we’re going to camp out here, too.
God has much He wants to teach the Israelites. As we saw in the last post, the nation of Israel is very much like a little child. They are constantly complaining about what God provides for them; they test the Lord and get angry at Moses even to the point of wanting to stone him!
Despite all the miraculous things that God is constantly doing, these people still show an amazing lack of faith and an inability to simply take God at His word. But God has been very patient with them.
At the burning bush, God revealed for the first time His name, YHWH. Through the Exodus out of Egypt, God revealed His power and sovereignty. Now, at Mt. Sinai, God is revealing who He is and renewing the covenant with Israel.
In this covenant, He is very specific about what Israel is to do in keeping this covenant, and He is very specific about how He will bless them as a nation if they keep the covenant…
Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. 2 After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.
3 Then 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. 5 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. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
7 So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him. 8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord.
Moses told the Lord what the people had said. 10 Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. 11 Be 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. 12 Mark 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. 13 No 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.”
14 So Moses went down to the people. He consecrated them for worship, and they washed their clothes. 15 He told them, “Get ready for the third day, and until then abstain from having sexual intercourse.”
16 On 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. 17 Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All 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. 19 As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply. 20 The Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain.
21 Then 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. 22 Even the priests who regularly come near to the Lord must purify themselves so that the Lord does not break out and destroy them.”
To Think About…
In verses 5-6 God describes the uniqueness of the nation of Israel. They will be His treasured possession. They will be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. In keeping God’s covenant and obeying Him fully, they must be holy… unique, set apart, different from the rest of the world.
Compared to the rest of the world, how holy are we? Aren’t we often more focused on being just like the world than being set apart from the world?
Verse 16-19 describes God descending on Mt. Sinai in fire. A thick fog, smoke billowing, the mountain shaking, constant thunder and lighting… can you imagine the scene?
Would your knees be knocking?
Then God calls Moses to come up the mountain… to where He is. Can you imagine being Moses? Do you think Moses was afraid for his life? I would have been!
Why do you think it is so hard for us to catch a vision of the fierceness, the holiness, the awesomeness of God? Why don’t we come to God with more respect and honor?