Three months upon leaving Egypt, the Israelites have come to camp at the foot of Mt. Sinai. While Moses was up in the mountain, God began describing a Covenant He wishes to establish with the Israelites. God prefaced by reminding the people of His plan and guidance in three different instances (v. 4).
- “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians”-the Israelites witness how God progressively proved to the Egyptians who is in charge, and ultimately brought the Israelites safely away from being chased by the Egyptians.
- “how I bore you on eagles’ wings”-God cared for the Israelites every step of the way, providing all the food and drink they needed to survive until they reach the Promise Land.
- “and brought you to myself”-God brought the people here safely to the foot of Mt. Sinai to reveal himself to the Israelites.
As God reminded the Israelites of His guidance for them, God promises to treasure them and set them apart from the other nations as a kingdom of priests and holy nation, if they choose to obey Him (v. 5-6). Notice the language used here was not a covenant commanded by God for the Israelites to obey Him, but the Israelites had the choice not to take to offer as it was written “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant…” (v. 5). This, if agreed upon, would be the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant is now built upon the previous covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant (father of all nations, God will bless those who blesses your family/Israelites), which was built upon the Noahic Covenant (never to destroy humanity with water). Later, the Davidic Covenant (the Messiah will come from David’s line) will build upon the Mosaic Covenant, and ultimately Jesus will be the New Covenant that fulfill and replace these covenants.
Fortunately, the people agreed to the terms of the Mosaic Covenant; not only did the peoples’ representative (elders, v. 7) say the people agreed, it was a unanimous agreement across the people (v. 7-8).
Then through Moses, God told the people to spend two days to consecrate, or cleanse themselves, in preparation to meet the Lord on the third day (v. 9-11). Furthermore, God repeatedly warned the people not to approach the mountain too closely (v. 12, 13, 21, 22, 24). God revealed Himself to the Israelites in the form of thick cloud (similar form to the way God lead them during the day), smoke, and loud noises (v. 16, 18, 19).
Critical Thinking and Application
God reminded the people of His guidance in various ways and ask them if they would trust Him even more from that point on. Examine your own life, in what ways have God guided you through difficulties? What was your response afterwards?
God brought the people of Israel together as a nation, established as a kingdom of priests and holy nation, and treasured them dearly. By treasuring the nation of Israel did not mean the Israelites now have the power to do anything they want since God has got their back. Rather, God used them as the people to make God Himself known to the rest of the world, and they hold the responsibility to share God’s glory to other nations as kingdom of priests; they were set apart as a nation with the mission to make God known and be an example of a God-fearing nation. In some ways, this sets a foundation of why you and I can be saved today by this God of Israel even though we are not part of the Israelites. Now we similarly carry the responsibility of being the “priests” in the kingdom of God by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-21) under the New Covenant; how could you be an example to others who have yet believed in Jesus Christ?
God commanded the Israelites to consecrate/cleanse themselves for two full days before meeting Him in person. While we are not bounded by the strict “doing” aspect of this passage as a requirement needed to see God anymore, how have you been preparing your heart before you go before the throne of God? —- Isaac Chang