- Ex. 19:1-20:26; 23:20-33; 24:1-18
These chapters are among my favorite in the whole Bible, and as such it is impossible for me to choose a single lesson from the text. So let's consider two.
GOD Offers a Relationship
Most Bible students are very familiar with the Ten Commandments which are found in Exodus 20. However, I fear that far less Bible students are familiar with the events of Exodus 19. You see, before GOD ever gave the people any of the Commandments He offered them a relationship.
And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You 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, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’…”
(Ex. 19:3-6 NKJV)
We must resist any temptation to brush right past this to get to the commandments and focus on the truth GOD is giving us in these verses. The Creator and Sustainer of all things is inviting these people a chance to have a personal, special and intimate relationship with Him. In other words, GOD is offering them Himself! How wonderful! What an honor and privilege!
It is so easy to fail to emphasize, or neglect entirely, the importance of the relationship we have with GOD. What a terrible tragedy this is! What GOD is most interested in is you and me—He wants our total commitment of every aspect of our being. Jesus said the greatest commandment in the whole law is, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matt. 22:37) Does GOD want us to obey His commandments? Absolutely. Is that all there is to being His child? Absolutely not.
When GOD Shows Himself
These chapters show us another great truth that is consistent throughout the Bible: When GOD shows Himself to humans there is one response that happens every time—fear.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever.” … Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
(Ex. 19:9, 16-18 NKJV)
Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
(Ex. 19:18-21 NKJV)
This shouldn’t surprise us, considering who GOD is. Yet, to those who are accepted by GOD He does not want us to stop at fear. Recall the words of Moses: "Do not fear…" Lastly, consider how GOD welcomed Moses, Aaron and the elders of Israel:
Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
(Ex. 24:9-11 NKJV)