The Nation Of Israel Comes To Mount Sinai


Exodus 19

A. Coming to the Mountain.

1. Israel camps at Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:1-2.

a. It has taken them three months of trusting God to get to this place, but they are finally here. They have seen God’s deliverance from Egypt, received His guidance on the way to go, seen His glorious victory at the Red Sea, seen God provide food and water miraculously, and have seen a prayerful victory won over the Amalekites.

i. Israel will stay here until Numbers 10, more than fifty-seven chapters of Scripture are devoted to what happened to Israel in the year they camped out at Mount Sinai.

b. In one sense. all that has gone before has meant to bring them to this place, God said this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain, Exodus 3:12.

i. Sinai was the place where Moses had his ‘burning bush’, experience with God, now the people will experience some of what Moses had before.

ii. If the people are going to meet God at this mountain, it can only happen because Moses had already been there. The people can’t go farther than their leader.

c. If Mount Sinai looks like anything, it looks like a huge pulpit, a sudden, steep outcropping of mountains out in the wilderness. Here, God would preach the most dramatic sermon ever heard!

2. God declares His great plan for the nation of Israel, Exodus 19:3-6.

a. Moses, led by God. goes up on the mountain to meet with God as he had before, and the Lord speaks to Moses again.

i. ‘House of Jacob’. Verse 3. God associates the nation with the weakest and most carnal of the patriarchs, they are more like Jacob than Abraham or Isaac.

b. God gave a message to the people through Moses, a message regarding the purpose and destiny He had for Israel, a destiny based on what God had already done for them.

i. God’s love and care were shown for Israel already, as He bore you on eagle’s wings. It is said that an eagle does not carry her young in her claws like other birds, the young eagles attach themselves to the back of the mother eagle and are protected as they are carried. Any arrow from a hunter must pass through the mother eagle before it could touch the young eagle on her back.

ii. The deliverance, ‘I bore you on eagles’ wings’, was for fellowship, brought you to Myself, God didn’t deliver Israel so they could ‘do their own thing,’ but so they could be God’s people.

c. God intended for Israel to be a special treasure unto Him, a people with a unique place in God’s great plan, a people of great value and concern to God.

i. Paul longed for Christians to know how great a treasure they were to God, he prayed they would know what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:18.

d. God intended for Israel to be a kingdom of priests, where every believer could come before God themselves, and everyone could represent God to the nations.

i. Peter reminds us we are a royal priesthood, those who serve God as both kings and priests and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, Revelation 1:6 / 1 Peter 2:9.

e. God intended for Israel to be a holy nation, a nation and people set apart from the rest of the world, the particular possession of God, fit for His purposes.

i. Peter reminds us we are a holy nation, 1 Peter 2:9. As God’s people, we must be set apart, thinking and doing differently than others in this world.

f. All this could only be fulfilled if Israel would stay in God’s word, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then. Apart from knowing and doing God’s word, God’s destiny for the nation would never be fulfilled.

i. Keep my covenant, the covenant was greater than the law itself, the covenant God would make with Israel involved law, sacrifice, and the choice to obey and be blessed or disobey and be cursed.

3. The people agree to obey the covenant, Exodus 19:7-9.

a. The people will later be challenged to receive the covenant again, after they have heard its terms, and they do, Exodus 24:1-8.

b. Yet, before God lays out His covenant with Israel, He desires to know their state of heart, will they accept it or reject it?

i. God may refuse to speak to the resisting heart, if there is not an initial openness to the things of God, God may honour that person’s hardness and refuse to bring His life-giving Word. Are we playing games and resisting God’s word?

c. Moses here is acting as a true priest, as an intermedium between God and the people, yet, God spoke audibly to Moses, that the people may hear when I speak with you, so, everyone world know that it was really God speaking.

4. God commands that His holy presence on Sinai be respected, Exodus 19:10-13.

a. God was going to appear to Israel in a spectacular fashion, and before this could happen, the people had to prepare themselves.

b. The coming of God to Mount Sinai did not mean the people were free to go to the mountain and fellowship with God, they had to keep their distance behind a barrier, and the penalty for failing to keep their distance was death.

i. Any person or animal killed for getting too close would be regarded as so unholy they could not even be touched, they had to be executed with stones or arrows.

c. ‘You shall set bounds for the people’, if there is anything basic to human nature, it is that we need boundaries. In setting these boundaries and providing the death penalty for breaching them, God is showing Israel that obedience is more important than their feelings. We don’t doubt that some bold Israelites felt like going beyond the boundaries, but they were to submit their feelings to obedience.

d. The people could only come near at God’s invitation when the trumpet sounds long.

5. Commands for ceremonial purity and cleanliness, Exodus 19:14-15.

a. The people had to demonstrate their desire for purity by putting on clean clothes and restraining the flesh, do not come near your wives.

b. The meeting with God could only come on the third day, anyone who tried to meet with God before this would be coming before God had opened the way.

B. God’s presence on the mountain.

1. God’s terrifying presence on Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:16-19.

a. The presence of God was signalled by signs of His power and glory, the thundering and lightning, and a thick cloud must have seemed terrifying to the people.

b. Beyond all one could see, hear, and feel there, then came along, loud blast of a trumpet, a trumpet coming not from the camp but from heaven itself, no wonder all the people who were in the camp trembled!

c. Then, Moses could lead the people right up to the barrier, to the very foot of Mount Sinai, where they could see, smell, hear, and virtually taste the fire which engulfed the mountain, as well as feel the earth shake under their feet when the whole mountain quaked greatly.

d. In the midst of all this, the sound of the trumpet blast becomes longer and louder and longer and louder, until Moses speaks to God, perhaps asking Him to stop!

2. Moses goes up on Mount Sinai to the immediate presence of God,  Exodus 19:20.

a. As the people trembled in terror at the foot of the mountain, Moses needed the courage to go to the top and meet with God. We can imagine all the people of Israel thinking Moses was crazy for going up there!

b. Yet, of all people, Moses could have such courage, because he knew God not only in terms of this awesome power but also in terms of His gracious kindness.

3. God tells Moses to go back down and warn the people again about respecting the holiness of His presence on Sinai, Exodus 19:21-25.

a. Those who through rebellion, curiosity, or raw daring who would presume to go up on the mountain would perish; the glory and greatness of God wasn’t to be a matter subjected to scientific inquiry or a way to prove one’s own manhood.

b. Just because God called Moses and Aaron up did not mean there was an open invitation for the whole nation to meet with God on Mount Sinai, the barrier was still to stand.

4. Two mountains.

a. Exodus 19 gives a powerful picture of the awesome fear each Israelite must have felt at Mount Sinai, surely this would have inspired them to a holy walk!

i. In fact, many today feel we need to get more of the thunder and fire and trembling of Mount Sinai into people as a way of keeping them from sin.

b. Yet, not forty days from this, the whole nation will be practising an orgy around a golden calf, praising it as the god which brought them out of Egypt!

i. As Chadwick says, ‘Awe is one thing: the submission of the will is another.’ Israel had awe, but little submission of their will.

c. Hebrews 12 tells us loud and clear that we have come to a different mountain, that our salvation and relationship with God is centred at Mount Zion, not Mount Sinai, Hebrews 12:18-24.

i. Sinai speaks of fear and terror, Zion speaks of love and forgiveness.

ii Sinai is in a dry desert, but Zion is the city of the Living God.

iii. Sinai, with all its tear and power is earthly, but the Mount Zion we come to is heavenly and spiritual.

iv. At Sinai. only Moses could come and meet God, at Zion, there is an innumerable company, a general assembly.

v. Sinai had guilty men in fear, but Zion has just men made perfect.

vi. At Sinai. Moses is the mediator, but at Zion, Jesus is the mediator.

vii. Sinai put forth an old covenant, ratified by the blood of animals. Zion has a New Covenant, ratified by the blood of God’s precious Son.

viii. Sinai was about barriers and exclusion, Zion is all about the invitation.

ix. Sinai is Law, Zion is grace.

x. Therefore. we shouldn’t come to Zion as if we were coming to Sinai, put away your hesitation and get bold in corning to God!

d. However, there is much for us to learn at Mount Sinai, we learn of God’s holy requirements, and what we must do before we can come to Him.

i. We must be willing to receive God’s word, we must be set apart, we must be cleansed. we can only come after the third day, we must respect God’s boundary; we must restrain the flesh, and we must know we come to a holy God.