About Jesus      Steve Sweetman

Home Page

This Chapter 19

Previous Section - Chapter 18

Next Section - Chapter 20


At Mount Sinai (ch. 19:1 - 25)


Verses 1 and 2 gives us a frame of reference when it comes to a timeline.  It was three months after  Israel was delivered from Egypt that this chapter took place. Israel came to the mountain as stated in verse 2.  This mountain would be the mountain where God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, and where God told Moses that he and Israel must return to and worship Him. 


If you remember, Moses told Pharaoh on a number of occasions that God wanted to take Israel on a three day journey to worship.  If I'm right, it seems that this three day journey actually took about three months.  This is only a sample of how things will go for Israel in this desert, that we see is called the Desert of Sinai.


We know that this mountain is where God spoke to Moses because Moses returns to this mountain expecting to here from God again.  Verse 3 tells us that Moses went up to the mountain, and then it tells us that God called him.  This tells me that God did not call Moses to the mountain.  Moses went to the mountain on his own free will, and most likely expected to hear from God.  Then, once Moses got to the mountain, at that point, God called him and spoke to him. 


When God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that he must let Israel go free to worship at this mountain, we now realize that this time of worship was not some general time of worship.  This time of worship was to be a specific time of worship, for specific reasons.  It was all about the giving of the Law to Israel.  This is why we saw God tell Moses to tell Pharaoh to let my people go to worship[ so many times.


In verse 4 God reminds Moses what He did to Egypt and that He delivered Israel on "eagle wings".  The term "eagle wings" is clearly symbolic in this case.  The term expresses the power of God seen in how He miraculously aided Israel in their deliverance from Egypt. 


The point to be made in verse 4 is that God delivered Israel out of Egypt "to Himself", as the text states.   We know that God delivered Israel out of Egypt in order for them to go to Canaan .  That has been clearly stated.  That being said, even more fundamental than that. God delivered Israel from Egypt so they could be with Him.  That is God's ultimate purpose and goal for Israel, something that Israel has always struggled with, even to this day.  Eventually God's purpose will come true at the end of this age when God will dwell in Israel, as the book of Revelation states.


It is the same with Christians today.  God calls us to salvation, in all of its varying aspects, but what He calls us mostly to, is Himself.  God Himself is our salvation.  He has called us all to be His sons and to have fellowship with him.  Evangelicals often preach that God calls us to salvation, and they are right.  But the important thing that is often missed in the gospel is that God calls us to Himself.  That's the real gospel.  


Verses 5 and 6 are important verses in understanding how Israel fits in the scheme  of things among the nations of the world.  God tells Moses that he needs to speak to Israel, that if they obey His covenant, they will be a special nation among the nations.  Israel in fact would be a holy nation of priests.  This means that Israel would be God's representatives to the rest of the nations on earth.  This is the reason for Israel's existence in the first place.  The problem is that they have failed miserably to be this priestly nation, representing their God to the nations of the world.


Notice the word "covenant" here.  I need to ask, "what covenant is being referred to here?"  Some might say that it is the Abrahamic Covenant, but I don't think so.  I believe what God is referring to here is the Mosaic Covenant, the Law of Moses, which God was about to give to Moses.  The Law of Moses is in fact a covenant.  The main difference between the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant, is that the Abrahamic Covenant had no conditions.  God would fulfill that covenant no matter what.  With the Mosaic Covenant, there were stipulations to be made.  If Israel did certain things, God would do certain things.  If they did not do certain things, God would respond appropriately. 


Another thing to note is that many parts of the Law of Moses, the Mosaic Covenant, that would soon be given to Israel, God had already spoken to them about.  One example is the seventh day of rest as we saw in Exodus 16.  Animal sacrifices had been around for quite some time.  Many laws in the Mosaic Covenant were already being practiced by the Jews.  The Law of Moses only codified much of what was already being done. 


We need to remember that Abraham had two sons, as Paul puts it in Galatians.  Hagar, the slave women gave birth to Ishmael.  Sarah, Abraham's real wife, gave birth to Isaac.  Paul says that this is an allegory.   Ishmael, the son born of the slave woman represents the Law or works.  Isaac, born of the free woman represents grace or faith.  God had two covenants for Israel. The first covenant was that of grace.  That was the Abrahamic Covenant.  Abraham could do nothing but believe to receive the promises of the covenant.  The second, the Mosaic Covenant was that of works.  Israel had to do work to keep it in order to receive the promises stated in that covenant. 


I think it is important to understand the distinction between these two covenants and how they apply to Israel.  One way in which I believe these two covenants apply to Israel is that the entrance into Canaan was based on the Mosaic Covenant.  When Israel enters into the promised land at the end of this age, that is based on the Abrahamic Covenant.


The big difference between the two covenants is that the Mosaic Covenant was temporary while the Abrahamic Covenant is eternal.  In Romans 10:4, Paul states that Christ is the end of the Law. Thus, the Mosaic Covenant came to and end with Jesus.  It still exists, but for prophetic reasons only.  It is not a Law to be obeyed for the purposes of salvation, not for the Jew, and especially not for Gentile Christians. 


In verses 7 and 8 Moses spoke to the elders of Israel all that the Lord told him.  The people agreed to obey the Lord.  Moses only spoke to the elders, but all the people agreed to obey the Lord.  This tells me that the elders went to their respective people and repeated to them what Moses told them.  After this, Moses returned to God and told Him that Israel agreed to obey Him.  I am sure that God knew they would have trouble with that.


It is interesting to note that Moses had such a relationship with God that he could converse back and forth with Hm.  That being said, I believe this was a special time in Moses' life.  I'm not convinced that God and Moses conversed like this on a daily basis throughout his life.


In verse 9 God tells Moses that He will speak to him in front of the people, but He will appear in a dense cloud.  The reason why God wanted to speak to Moses before the people was in order for the people of Israel to put their trust in him.  God wanted Israel to trust Moses as a divinely appointed leader.  Yet beyond that, the words "put their trust in you," makes me wonder if Moses at this point, and in this sense of the word, is prophetic of Jesus Himself.  We as Christians are to trust one another to a certain degree, but nowhere in the New Testament does it say to put your trust in a man.  It does however, tell us to put our trust in Jesus. 


In verse 10 God tells Moses to have the people consecrate themselves by washing their clothes for two days.  The KJV uses the word "sanctify".   The washing of clothes is somewhat symbolic.  God wanted Israel to prepare themselves to meet him.  He wanted them to get their hearts and minds ready to hear what He had to say.  They were to be set apart for the Lord on the day  He would speak to them.  I believe that in like fashion this is what we should do when we come together as a gathering of the saints, but this is not always the case.


The washing of clothes might be symbolic of the two days after Jesus' death, and before His resurrection on the third day.  In one sense of the word, He washed our clothes for us.


I'd like to tell a story at this point.  One of my sons told me once that he always new when Sunday came.  I asked him why he knew that.  He answered, "because you always listen to Christian music before we go to church."  He was right.  The reason why I listened to Christian music, and especially worship music, was that I was preparing myself for the gathering of the saints I would be part of .  My guess is that very few people prepare themselves before meeting with God's people, and God Himself.  One reason why Christians don't prepare themselves before gathering is that there is no reason to do so.  The meeting is simply a program you watch from your pew.  People in the pew don't participate.  If they were to participate, they would have to prepare their hearts and minds.     


Verse 11 says that God wanted Israel to be ready by the third day.  He would give them two whole days to prepare themselves to meet Him, and on the third day He would come to them.  Here we see that important number three again.  The third day God would come to Israel.  The third day Jesus would return to His disciples. 


This would be the moment of worship that had been anticipated by Moses for a long time.  Remember, when God called Moses to return to Egypt , He told him that he and Israel must return to this mountain to worship.   This is that time of worship.  God had a specific time of worship in mind, and for a specific purpose.  It was not some general time of worship.  The sign that God spoke about in Exodus 3:13 would now come true.        


In verses 12 and 13 God tells Moses that no one can touch any part of the mountain, and if he does, he will die.  God says that those who touch the mountain will be shot with arrows.  I believe this is symbolic language.  As we've said before, even though the Bible speaks of "the hand of God", God does not have a hand.  By the same token, He does not shoot arrows. 


The idea here is not that people can't survive in the presence of God.  The idea is about obeying God.  He says don't touch the mountain, so you don't touch the mountain.  If you disobey, you will die.  The same type of command was given to Adam.  God told Adam that if he eat from the Tree of Life he would die.  Sin causes death.  This is what should be learned in this verse.


God also states that when the ram horn sounds, then people can touch the mountain.  I'm not sure who blows this ram horn.  It might well be blown by and Israeli at the command of Moses, when he knows that God has left the mountain.  Or, it might well be blown by an angel of God.


Verses 14 and 15 tells us that Moses left the presence of God and went down the mountain to tell the people to prepare for the third day, the day when God would visit them.  He also tells them not to have sexual relations between then and the third day.  I can't be one hundred percent sure why Moses, and I assume God, did not allow for sexual relations on these two days.  My thinking is that the act of sex between two people is the ultimate in giving of one's self to another person.  You enter into each others personal space in the act of sex that is not experienced at any other time.  In one sense of the word, during the sex act, you are consecrating yourself to the person who are having sex with.  You are actually in the act of mutual worship.  With this in mind, God apparently did not want people to consecrate themselves to anyone else during this time other than to Him.  He only wanted the people to fully give themselves to Him.  Once the time of visitation with the Lord is over, then the people can go back to having normal sexual relationships.


This tells me something about the act of sex that I have believed for years.  It is symbolic of our intimacy with our Lord.  What we experience with our spouse in a physical sense, we should experience with our Lord in a spiritual sense.  That being said, for the most part, both acts of intimacy have been distorted and abused by humans.  The true meaning of both have been lost, both to the non-Christian, and I believe to most Christians as well. 


Verse 16 tells us that on the third morning, there was aloud thunder and lightening.  This must have been more severe than a normal thunder storm because the people were terrified.  They would have experienced thunder storms before, but this one must have been one great storm.  This was the visitation of God.  God's central or immediate presence came into the physical existence of humanity.   I use the term "central or immediate presence of God", because in one sense of the word, God is everywhere, yet, there is one place, somewhere in the spiritual world, where He is centralized, if I can say it that way.  This whole event reminds me of the resurrection of Jesus on the third day.


In verses 17 through 19 Moses led the people out to Mount Sinai.  The mountain is covered in smoke and it is violently shaking due to the presence of God.  When God Himself, that's not the Holy Spirit, but God, comes into our physical existence, which does not happen often, our physical existence cannot stand His immediate presence and thus trembles and shakes.


From verses 20 to 25 we see Moses going up the mountain to meet with God.  It is clear that Moses had special permission to climb the mountain.  He didn't die. Once on the top of the mountain God told Moses to return and warn the people not to touch the mountain.  He also told Moses to bring only Aaron back with him.  No priests could come up the mountain.


The word priests is used twice in this passage.  This is the first mention of priests in Israel in the Bible.  Somewhere along the line Israel began to have priests.  Once again, we see something that became part of the Law of Moses existing prior to the Law of Moses.  As I've said before, many aspects of the Law of Moses were already in existence prior to God giving the Law to Moses.  The Law of Moses only codified that which already existed. 

Next Section - Chapter 20

Previous Section - Chapter 18

Home Page