Week 5: Exodus 19-40

“Then the Lord said, ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.’” Exodus 34:10

What’s Going On? 

Finally the Israelite people arrive at the foot of Mt Sinai, all 2+ million of them. They are now a free people, but all they had ever known was a life of slavery. It’s time for them to learn how to live as God’s Chosen People. When they arrive, Moses makes his first trip up the mountain where he receives instructions for how the people are to be consecrated in preparation for meeting with God, who appears “on the third day” with thunder and lightning, a thick cloud covering the mountain, and a loud trumpet blast. God then delivers the Ten Commandments, followed by other guidelines for living as God’s people. The Ten Commandments are probably the most familiar of the laws given to Moses, but there are many, many more laws and instructions included here and still more in the book that will follow. Notice in Exodus 23:22-31 how many times God says, “I will…” God establishes Himself as the leader of His people and promises to be their Guide, their Provider, and their Protector for the journey ahead.

These commands from God will be foundational to them as the group of wandering nomads will eventually become the Nation of Israel. These instructions will include how they are to live; how, when, and where they are to worship the Lord; and most importantly, how they are to be a humble and obedient people in order to receive the blessings of God. They were to be set apart, Holy unto the Lord and were expected to look to Him as the supplier of all their needs.  

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for us to see them lose sight of their special place as God’s people because by chapter 32 they grew impatient waiting for Moses and build the Golden Calf to “worship.” Unfaithfulness and idolatry are going to be a constant problem for the Israelites and the consequences will be great. However, God’s instructions will guide the people of Israel as they begin their journey back to the land that had been promised to their ancestors six hundred years earlier.

When and Where Are We?

Three months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites are standing in the desert at the foot of Mt Sinai which is most likely near the southern tip of the Sanai Peninsula, although there is some debate over the actual location. The people will wait there at the campsite they have set up while Moses goes up and down the mountain several times. It looks to me like the people will spend almost a full year settled in this campsite. Mt Sinai is approximately 7,500 feet. The Great Smokey Mountains stand about 6,500 ft, so that gives us some perspective of the elevation! Just for fun, keep a tally of how many trips up and down the mountain Moses will make!  

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – prophet and leader of the Israelite people
  • Aaron – Moses’ brother and partner in communicating with the people
  • Nadab and Abihu – first two sons of Aaron; Eleazar and Ithamar are the younger two
  • Joshua – Moses’ aide
  • The Elders – Leaders in the group who were chosen and set in place as suggested by Jethro/Raoul
  • The Priests – Aaron, his sons, and their descendants will serve as the priests for all Israel
  • Bezalel and Oholiab – given special skills by God to make the things He had commanded them to make

“If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways
so I may know You
and continue to find favor with You.”
Exodus 33:13

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Exodus 19-22
  • Tuesday: Exodus 23-26
  • Wednesday: Exodus 27-30
  • Thursday: Exodus 31-34
  • Friday: Exodus 35-37
  • Saturday: Exodus 38-40


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