Exodus Chapter 19

Israel at Sinai

    • The Israelites left Rephidim and exactly two months after they had departed from Egypt, they entered the Wilderness of Sinai and camped in front of the mountain.

        • Guzik notes, “Israel stayed in the Wilderness of Sinai until Numbers 10. More than 57 chapters of Scripture are devoted to what happened to Israel in the year they camped at Mount Sinai.”

      • Where is Mount Sinai? Scholars don’t all agree. HCSB commentary explains, “While the Bible record the names of many places where the Israelites stayed in the desert following their exodus from Egypt, those places are notoriously hard to identify. They camped only in tents or temporary huts during their years in the wilderness, and there is no record that they built roads or permanent structures or prepared fields for agricultural purposes…Thus scholars have suggested various sites in the northern, central, and southern portions of the Sinai Desert, as well as at least one site in western Saudi Arabia.”

        • The traditional location for Mount Sinai in on the Sinai Peninsula.

        • However, some scholars believe Mount Sinai was actually located in Arabia- the mountain Jebel al-Lawz. Guzik gives two reasons why this is also an option.

                  1. “According to Exodus 2:15, 3:1, and 3:12 this mountain was in the region of Midian, which was on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba, east of the Sinai Peninsula. The ancient land of Midian is in the modern nation of Saudi Arabia.”

                  2. “In Galatians 4:25, the Apostle Paul clearly described Mount Sinai as being in Arabia. Though some claim that this can also be understood as extending to the Sinai Peninsula, this isn’t the normal understanding of where Arabia is, either in the modern or the ancient understanding.”

      • Proponents of the traditional Mt. Sinai location note that there are issues with this theory. If you’re interested in further reading on this subject, you can check out Problems With Mount Sinai in Arabia.

    • Moses came down from the mountain and told the Israelites everything God had told him to say. The people replied that they would do exactly as the Lord had said, so Moses went back to tell the Lord.

    • Moses went up the mountain to the Lord and the Lord told Moses to tell the Israelites, “You saw what I did to the Egyptians and how I brought you to Me as if on the wings of eagles. If you will obey Me and keep My covenant, you will be My special people out of all the other people on the earth, though all of the earth belongs to Me. You will be My kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

      • “God, to whom all the earth belongs, promised to make Israel His own special treasure. This promise was contingent upon their accepting a covenant with God and keeping it faithfully. The nation was to become intermediaries between a holy God and a lost world. Through them God would reveal Himself (I Peter 2:9-10) . (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

      • Guzik makes this extremely important point, “Before God called Israel to keep His law, He commanded them to “keep My covenant.” The covenant was greater than the law itself. The covenant God made with Israel involved law, sacrifice, and the choice to obey and be blessed or to disobey and be cursed.”

    • The Lord told Moses, “I’ll come to you in a thick cloud so that the people will be able to hear Me when I speak to you and they’ll believe you.”

    • The Lord then told Moses to go prepare the people for His arrival , “Have the people purify themselves today and tomorrow because on the third day I will come down on Mount Sinai so that they can all see Me. Mark off a boundary around the mountain and warn them not to cross the boundary and touch the mountain because anyone who touches it will have to be put to death. If someone touches the mountain, they must be put to death by stoning or arrows because no one can touch them after they have touched the mountain. This goes for animals as well as people. When the ram’s horn is blown, then the people can come up to the boundaries to the mountain.”

    • Moses came down and instructed the people on how to prepare themselves. He consecrated them for worship, washed their clothes, and Moses instructed them not to have sexual intercourse.

    • On the morning of the third day, their was thunder and lightening a thick cloud on the mountain. When the ram’s horn sounded, the people trembled. Moses led the people from their camp to the foot of the mountain to meet God. Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke because the Lord had come down on it in fire. The entire mountain shook and smoked like a furnace. As the horn blew louder, Moses spoke to the Lord and He responded like thunder.

      • “What Israel saw and felt in the thunder, lightning, the cloud, the smoke, and the earthquake was terrifying; but each of these are natural (though frightening) phenomenon. Yet the sound of the trumpet did not come from the camp, but from heaven itself. No wonder that all the people who were in the camp trembled.” (Guzik)

    • The Lord called Moses to come up the mountain, then He told Moses, “Go back down and warn the people to come up the mountain to see Me or they will die. Even the priests must be purify themselves so that the Lord doesn’t destroy them.”

      • “The whole idea at Sinai was exclusion. Exodus 19 describes the awe and fear each Israelite must have felt at Mount Sinai. It is easy to think that this alone inspired them to a holy lifestyle…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. Yet, not forty days from this, the whole nation would have an orgy around a golden calf, praising it as the god that brought them out of Egypt.” (Guzik)

    • Moses responded by telling God that the people could not come up the mountain because he had done has God instructed and placed a boundary around it.

    • Then the Lord told Moses, “Go back down and bring Aaron up with you, but don’t let the priests or the people come through the barriers or I will destroy them.” Moses obeyed.

      • Guzik explains that we are now under the New Covenant, which is centered around a different mountain than Sinai- Mount Zion: “Hebrews 12:18-24 says clearly that under the New Covenant we come to a different mountain, that our salvation and relationship with God is centered at Mount Zion, not Mount Sinai.

· Sinai speaks of fear and terror, but Zion speaks of love and forgiveness.

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

· Sinai, with all its fear and power is earthly; but the Mount Zion we come to is heavenly and spiritual.

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

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

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

· 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.

· Sinai was all about barriers and exclusion; Zion is all about invitation.

· Sinai is all about Law, Zion is all about grace.”


        • Guzik ends his commentary on chapter 19 with this very apt quote from Clarke, “Reader, art thou still under the influence and condemning power of that fiery law which proceeded from his right hand? Art though yet afar off? Remember, thou canst only come nigh by the blood of sprinkling; and till justified by his blood, thou are under the curse. Consider the terrible majesty of God. If thou have his favour thou hast life; if his frown, death. Be instantly reconciled to God, for though thou hast deeply sinned, and he is just, yet he is the justifier of him that believeth in Christ Jesus. Believe on him, receive his salvation; OBEY his voice indeed, and KEEP his covenant, and THEN shalt thou be a king and a priest unto God and the Lamb, and be finally saved with all the power of an endless life. Amen.”