In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.( Exodus 19:1-6)
God commanded Pharoah through Moses to, “Let my people go that they may worship me…” and now fifty days after the Red Sea incident, here they were at the appointed place, preparing for the encounter with God.
Israel had seen… seen what? They had seen the signs of Moses the devastating plagues, which brought the world’s first great empire to its knees, the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea, Manna and bitter waters turned sweet. This is how God brought them out of Bondage and unto himself.
The Covenant he would make with them would not cancel out the previous covenant which he made to Abraham and his seed, an unconditional covenant promising Land, Blessing, protection, favor and ultimately, a Saviour who would bless the whole world.
This covenant would be conditional, “If you will obey my voice…”.
Israel was chosen to be a special people, a unique possession of God, a people who stand alone of all of the nations of the earth, and should they keep the conditions of the covenant, a kingdom of Priests to the whole world.
Moses laid out before the people, all that the LORD required, they were to prepare themselves, for the LORD was coming to them, two million people were going to share an experience oncoming into a direct encounter with the presence of God himself.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.(Exodus 19:10-14)
The mountain is Holy, chosen by God set apart for the encounter, no one must profane it by touching it with sinful hands , not even an animal must wander on it. The congregation must abstain from marital intimacy, for three days the nation undergoes a sort of death.God would come down on the third day…
The LORD came down upon the mountain on the third day, enshrouded in a thick, dark cloud of Glory. The entire mountain , the size of which is estimated as being two miles long and 1 mile across, smoked as a furnace as the people (2 million strong) assembled beyond the barriers to the Holy Mountain, to behold the descent of the Holy God.
Thunder and lightening roiled around the crown of the mountain, now shrouded in smoke and cloud, and the sound of a loud trumpet commenced, increasing in loudness as the LORD descended. The sound of the trumpet and the spectacle of the thunder, lightening and cloud of deep darkness, had such an effect upon the people gathered, they trembled as they stood there.
Not only did the people shake, but the mountain itself began to tremble and shake.Moses himself , we are told in the New Testament book of Hebrews, “did exceedingly fear and shake” before the glory of God’s awesome presence . The Holy wrath and awesome majesty did flame forth in flashes of Lightening and fire, rendering the mountain dangerous to anyone who would dare draw near unbidden, by the Holy One.
And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.(Exodus 19:19-25)
This was the “wedding”of Israel to Jahweh, the canopy was the Holy cloud, and the covenant would be proclaimed by the voice which shook all things. She would be a Kingdom of Priests, Israel would readily agree to the terms of the covenant, although the congregation begged Moses to never allow them to be exposed to such a theophany, ever again.
Ten Holy Words would be spoken from the glory of His majesty.