Exodus Teaching - 08 - The Sinai Experience

Title: Exodus Teaching - 08 - The Sinai Experience
Category: Bible Studies
Subject: Exodus Study

Exodus Teaching Series #8

TITLE: The Sinai Experience

TEXT: 19


Few places on earth have received more attention than Mt. Sinai, and there is a good reason for that. Few names on earth focus more attention on the history of Israel and the Hebrew people than Mt. Sinai. Exceptions of course would include Israel and Jerusalem. No nation in history has been so impacted from an experience at Sinai as has Israel.

It was at Sinai that the nation of Israel entered a covenant relationship with the God, who is revealed in the Bible as the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. The great I Am of the burning bush would again speak to Moses and the covenant relationship between God and His chosen people got on track. I won’t say that was where it got started because it wasn’t. It got started before Adam and Eve were created. We know this because Jesus is called the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). We know this because of the promise the Lord made about the Seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15. We also know about this because of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12). For hundreds of years, Mt. Sinai had been marked on the Lord’s calendar and on His map. The history of mankind, and not just Israel, has been impacted by the Sinai experience. For example, the Ten Commandments have been a moral guide and a legal standard for countless nations.

In recent years, books, articles, and videos have raised a lot of questions about the traditional site of Mt. Sinai, the place of the crossing of the Red Sea, and various places on the journey from Egypt to Sinai. For some, the fact that the peninsula on which the traditional site is located is named the Sinai Peninsula, adds credence to that site. In the fourth century, the mother of Constantine designated the mountain that was to become the traditional site of Mt. Sinai as the mountain before which the Israelites gathered, the mountain where the Lord came down and spoke to Moses. The Catholic Church has for centuries held that the true Mt. Sinai is on what we know today as the Sinai Peninsula. However, from what I have read and heard, Josephus wrote that Mt. Sinai was in Midian, or Arabia. So did Paul!

Let me ask you a question. Did the Lord send Moses back to Egypt to deliver Israel from Egypt? How, then, could leading them across the arm of the Red Sea we know as the Gulf of Suez to the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai have been leading them out of Egypt? He would have been leading them from Egypt to Egypt! However, there would not have been a problem if Moses had led them from the shores of the Peninsula of Sinai across the Sea of Aqaba to the land of Midian (Arabia). After all, Paul speaks of Mt. Sinai in Arabia (Gal. 4:25). Let’s see what we can learn about the location of Sinai, but remember that if we solve that problem, but miss the total Sinai experience, we will be the losers. So the route is not our major concern today.


A. God Delivered Israel from Bondage.

1. He delivered them in His Own time. He delivered them in His Own way. Now, I know there is some repetition in this series. After all, who remembers all of the details in God’s promise to Abraham that He would give him a land for his descendants, or to Moses concerning the Exodus, Sinai, the wilderness, and the possession of the Land of Promise? I find something new every time I read it, often it is something I remember reading, but had not placed a great deal of importance on it. Maybe that will be your experience. God had told Abraham that his descendants would live in a foreign country for 400 years before coming back to possess the land He promised them. They would some day return to possess their possessions in the Land of Promise, a land “flowing with milk and honey.”

2. He delivered them in His own way. He made his presence felt in Egypt, by the Egyptians. He unleashed His judgment in the form of ten plagues through which He showed His power to do anything He wanted to do, and He proved that the false of gods of Egypt were totally powerless to do anything to save them. The only power the false gods of this world have is the power given them by the prince of this world, whom we know as Satan. The Lord revealed Himself to Moses as Yahweh, the great I AM God, who created and sustains all things. He would continue to reveal His will and purpose to, and through Moses.

3. His deliverance assured them of His deliverance from spiritual bondage. In Egypt, the Israelites were dead to the promises of the Lord. They were dead to hope, dead to freedom, dead to fulfillment, dead to joy, dead to God’s plan for them in the land flowing with milk and honey. That is a picture of the lost person today. He, or she, is dead to life, hope, salvation, dead to all hope of an eternal paradise known to us as heaven. As the Lord delivered the Israelites from physical bondage in Egypt, He will deliver individuals today from spiritual bondage, from death, hell and the grave. He will free all who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

B. God Delivered Israel from Egypt.

1. God parted the waters of the Red Sea and they crossed on dry ground. He delivered them from slavery in Egypt and set them on the road to Sinai. Sinai had been in God’s plan from day one.
The Lord called out to Moses from the burning bush that was not being consumed and sent him to Egypt to deliver His Chosen People and to bring them back to Sinai to worship Him. They may have forgotten the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but we can be sure He never forgot them, and He had never forgotten His promise to bring them back to the Land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey.

The Lord parted the waters of the Red Sea so that two million people, with loaded carts and animals, could walk across on dry land. In the movie, The Ten Commandments, the path across the Red Sea seemed a little wider than a chariot, but for them to cross as quickly as they did, a very wide path would have been required. As soon as they arrived they would need water and we can be sure the Lord led them to a place where there was good water.

2. The Lord delivered Israel and judged Egypt. The first nine plagues convinced the citizens of Egypt that they should let the people go, but it took the death of the first born son throughout Egypt, including Pharaoh’s home, to convince him to permit them to leave. Egypt was not a democracy and they could not will the Israelites to leave. Only Pharaoh had the authority to free them and he still had a lot to learn about the one true God. He issued the orders to permit the Israelites to leave Egypt, but the Lord was not through with Pharaoh yet. Then, the Lord led the Israelites on a journey that made it look to Pharaoh like the Israelites were wondering in confusion, which motivated him to send his calvary and his chariots to capture them and return them to slavery. Yahwehparted the waters of the Red Sea and led His people across on dry land, but when the Egyptians pursued them the walls of water collapsed upon them, drowning all the men and horses. It would take a long time for Egypt to build back all they had lost, and it would be a long time before Egypt would be a major threat to Israel.

3. The Lord led the Israelites on to Sinai. After they crossed the Red Sea, and after they saw bodies of the Egyptians wash up on the shore, they sang praises to Yahweh, the God who had delivered them from bondage, despair, and death. Then, they marched on for three days until they came to the bitter springs of Morah, where they were shocked to find that Moses had led them to bitter, undrinkable water. The Lord told Moses to throw a tree into the water, and he did and the water became sweet. From Morah they traveled on to the Elim where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees.

Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams became convinced that the Israelites crossed the Gulf of Aqaba, the right arm of the Red Sea, traveling from Egypt to Midian, so they drove from that point in what is today Saudi Arabia and traveled what they calculated to be a three days journey by foot, and there they found the bitter water, and it was very bitter. They went on to Elim and Cornuke, a retired police investigator and then as a member of a SWAT team, simply followed the Bible from one stop to the next. He says, “If you get the crossing place right you will have no problem finding Sinai, and if you can find Sinai you will have no problem finding the crossing place. He also said that when you are investigating a crime if all the evidence you consider leads nowhere, you are on the wrong track, but if it all begins to fit together you know you are on the right track. So it was with their exploration of the route from the Red Sea to Mt. Sinai (in Arabia, Gal. 4:25).

Now, let me mention one more bit of information. When Cornuke and Williams did get lost - in Midian, in an area that would become Arabia (Saudi Arabia today), they saw several Arabs on camels and stopped and asked them how to find Mt. Sinai. The men became excited and pointed to a high mountain and began saying - in Arabic - “Jabel Al Waz, the mountain of Moshe, the mountain of Moshe!” The mountain of Moses. They were convinced they had found the real Mt. Sinai when they arrived there and began observing what Cornuke considered solid evidence. We shall see.

C. Jethro Visits Moses in Midian (Ex. 19).

Some Old Testament scholars believe this incident was inserted out of chronological order, but that is not necessarily so. The Israelites had been on the road from Egypt for three months when they arrived at Sinai. We are not told how Jethro knew where Moses was, or when he would arrive there, but we can make some educated guesses. Leaders of any country would have been concerned had they received news that a huge crowd of foreigners were marching across their county. Two million people marching across one’s country would get a lot of attention. There is also the possibility that Jethro was watching for Moses and the Israelites. He knew where Moses had gone and may have been looking for him.

We are told that “Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything that God had done for Moses and His people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt” (18:1). That was to have been expected since Jethro would have known where Moses was going when he left Midian, and why. Three things stand out in the reunion between Moses and Jethro: (1) Jethro returned Moses’ family to him, (2) he brought an offering to God (vs 12), and (3) he offered some sound, practical advice to Moses.

Jethro returned Moses’ wife Zipporah and his sons Gershom and Eliezer (18:2-4). He brought a burnt offering to God (vs. 12), and after observing Moses judging the people he asked him,

“What is this thing you’re doing for the people? Why are you alone sitting as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?” (vs. 14)

“Moses replied to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. (15) Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I make a decision between one man and another. I teach ⌊them⌋ God’s statutes and laws.” (16-17)

“What you’re doing is not good,” Moses’ father-in-law said to him. (18) “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone.” (vs 10)

Jethro proceeded to advise Moses to instruct the people about God and His statutes and laws, but he advised his son-ion-law to select some qualified men to hear the minor cases (18:22) rather than try to hear all cases himself. He added, “If you do this, and God ⌊so⌋ directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.” (18:23). Jethro advised Moses to delegate responsibility under God so that he would not fail the people or God. This was sound advice from a man who obviously knew something about authority and the delegation of responsibility.

Moses, showing both wisdom and humility, “listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, and he journeyed to his own land” (18:26-27). Moses may not have been the most articulate man to lead the Children of Israel, but there is no denying the fact that he was a wise man and a godly leader. All leaders would do well to place more emphasis on the people they serve than on their own legacy, or the next election. Once we read Moses’ intercessory prayer for the people we know he put the people ahead of himself.


The Israelites Were Led to Sinai By the Lord.

1. I have a question that you may have asked. Why Sinai? Were there not more convenient places? Were there not more accessible places? Were there not more beautiful places? Were there not more comfortable places? Of course there were - and that answers all the questions. Our way, but not His way. There are times when we must remind ourselves of what Yahweh declared through the prophet Isaiah: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” ⌊This is⌋ the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, HCSB)

2. They did not find Sinai. They did not discover Sinai any more than they discovered the bitter springs of Morah, or the rock from which Yahweh caused water to gush forth and fill a major depression sufficient to meet the needs of some two million people plus their livestock. And believe me, livestock can drink a lot of water. The Lord miraculously provided water for all those people, plus a lot of livestock. It takes a lot of water for livestock. I know.

From the time I was ten years old until we got “running water,” it was my job to pump water for cows, hogs, and mules. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, in the intense heat of the Mississippi Delta summer and the frigid winter. Don’t even ask about Spring and Fall. Winter was January and February, Fall was Thanksgiving week, and Spring ran from Valentine’s Day to Easter. Summer was everything else. Morning, noon, and night. I pumped water into a hollow cypress log my father split and converted into a water trough.

May I have the privilege of a personal testimony here? After my father bought the first two, or possibly three tractors, his last mule got out and ran away. A neighbor came by for a visit and while he was there he said, “By the way, I saw your mule the other day. He is in old Oliver’s lot.” This was an older black farmer. My father said, “I don’t think it’s mine.” I was silently shouting, “That’s great!” Silently. It was too good to be true. The neighbor said, “It looks just like yours.” Daddy said, “I don’t believe it’s mine.” The neighbor became more insistent, “I know your mule and I am sure he is yours.” My father must have known what his verdict would mean to me! Once again, he said, “I don’t think it’s mine.” I wondered if the neighbor would ever shut up! He finally gave up and went on home. I wondered if my father was simply trying to save me some work, as well as the aggravation of fooling with the ornery mule. Years later, after my family retired from farming and sold off the tractors, with the exception of a 730 diesel John Deere tractor, I drove from my home in Louisiana to visit my family, and as I turned into the long drive I noticed that the 730 was parked beside the home of our nearest neighbors - and no one ever had better neighbors than Garfield Ellis and his family. They set a great example for both while and black neighbors.

One day, Garfield walked across from his house to a field where we were working when I was about twelve years old and he and my parents had a confidential talk. He told them the Chub Hill place was up for sale and he wanted to encourage my father to buy it. “If you don’t want it, I will buy it so we won’t get any bad neighbors. But if you will buy it, and need any help, I will help you with the down payment. My parents bought the land and we moved to the house directly across from Garfield, about 150 yards from his house. Years later, they widened the road and I noticed that they took all the land off our side of the road and none off Garfield’s. I mentioned it to my father. It didn’t seem fair. My father explained that if they had taken anything off Garfield’s place they would have taken a good part of his yard. To prevent that, my daddy told them to take all of it off his side and they did, for three quarters of a mile.

Now, back to the time I saw the 730 John Deere parked near Garfield’s house. I asked my father, “Did the 730 break down?” He said, “No.” I asked, “Did you run our of diesel fuel?” Again, he said “No.” I asked, “What is it doing out there?” He told me that Little Garfield had moved home and he wanted to farm their land. He added, their old tractor is too light to disc and break that buckshot (gumbo) land. I asked, “Did you sell it to him?” He shook his head. “Did you rent it to him?” He shook his head and I dropped the subject. Years later, after my mother had surgery for a brain tumor and my father had a series of heart attacks and strokes, they move to a town about twelve miles away. This family visited my parents many times.

What, you may ask, does that have to do with Sinai? It has everything to do with it. My father and Garfield would never have told the other one he loved him, but they showed it. For that matter, my father never told me he loved me, but I never doubted it.

3. The Lord led the Israelites to Sinai. There are no accidents with the Lord. When He spoke to Moses from the burning bush and told him He was sending him to Egypt to deliver the Israelites, Moses protested that this task was too much for him. “He answered, “I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worship God at this mountain.” (Ex 3:12) This was no accident. Nor did they end up at Sinai because it just happened to be a stop on the way. Sinai was essential to God’s plan for the Israelites. It was at Sinai that Israel entered a covenant with the Lord and throughout their history they would be looking back to that covenant with Yahweh and they would be looking ahead to the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant, which would be a New Covenant. We are talking about the Messiah, but the Lord did not reveal all His plans for them at Sinai.

There would be a progressive revelation down through the years and through he centuries. Around 1000 B. C., David gave a description of the crucifixion, hundreds of years before crucifixion was ever used as a means of execution. Between 740 and 700 B.C., the prophet Isaiah gives us a description of the Suffering Servant (52:12-53:17). In Isaiah 9:6, the Messiah is revealed as, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” The Lord also revealed that “The virgin will conceive,[15] have a son, and name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14f, HCSB) Through Zechariah, the Lord revealed that the a coming Joshua (Hebrew name for Jesus) would bring together the offices of Prophet and King. Jesus is Prophet, King, and Prophet.

Sinai was not the “jumping off place” where Moses tried to rally the forces to start them on to the Land of Promise. Sinai was the place of the covenant. Here, they would promise to commit themselves completely to Yahweh, the God to whom they begged for deliverance from the brutal tyranny of a Pharaoh who thought he was a god. At Sinai they pledged themselves to God and promised to live by this covenant.

He led the children of Israel to the same mountain where He led Elijah when he was fleeing from Jezebel. Jim and Penny Caldwell, whom I have mentioned earlier, visited Sinai fourteen times in eight years. They camped at different locations each time, and at one point, Jim Caldwell decided that they could not be sure this was the real Mt. Sinai unless they could find the cave Elijah lived in after he fled from Jezebel. They photographed the cave and Jim Caldwell climbed up to it and entered it. He said the entrance is about fifteen feet high and the cave is about twenty feet deep. Larry Williams made the statement that major archaeological discoveries are made, not archaeologists but by explorers. This discovery supports that observation.


A. They Got Their First Look of Sinai.

1. The Lord brought them to Himself at Sinai.

“In the third month, on the same day of the month⌋ that the Israelites had left the land of Egypt, they entered the Wilderness of Sinai. (2) After they departed from Rephidim, they entered the Wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness, and Israel camped there in front of the mountain.” (Is. 19:1-2)

This is history, not fiction. After they had climbed to the top of Mt. Sinai, Larry Williams said, “We are making history.” Bob Cornuke said to Larry William, “We are on holy ground.” While you can sense the satisfaction in the voice and the facial expression of Larry Williams you can sense a reverential awe in the eyes and in the voice of Bob Cornuke.

Israel, that day, was on holy ground. There is more to this than religion. All this information is given to affirm the truth that they were standing on holy ground. What we have here is history, complete with names, places, times, circumstances. This is not myth and legend. Both Bob Cornuke and the Caldwells had stood on top of the traditional site of Mt. Sinai (in Egypt) and were disappointed. Then Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams and Jim and Penny Caldwell stood on top of what they believe to be the authentic Mt. Sinai (in Arabia) and they were amazed. The average Christian today might ask, “What difference does it make?” I have not been to either place, but when I see what those explorers share with those who watch the video you cannot miss what it means to those who spent time on the Mountain of Moses. The first time someone tried to tell me there were people who were looking at a new site for the crossing of the Red Sea I said, “When the Israeli archaeologists accept this I will take another look at it, but until they accept this as the real site of the crossing of the Red Sea I will stay with the traditional site.” When I saw the amount of evidence those explorers showed at what they are convinced is Sinai in Arabia (Gal. 4:25), I became convinced that there is a strong possibility that this is the real site. This may well be the Mountain of Moses, or the Mountain of God.

The Israelites camped before Mt. Sinai and looked up at the top of the mountain. They must have been awed by its height. They may have been camped at around 4,000 to 4,500 feet above sea level, and the top of Mt. Sinai was around 4,000 feet above them. The mountain and everything around it was what they described as a reddish sand color, all the way to the top, where everything was black. I wish the explorers had given some kind of measurement, or estimated the acreage at the top of the mountain where everything is black, but if they did I missed that. Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams broke open some of the rocks on top of the mountain and inside those black rocks they found the same color as the rest of the mountain. They were black on the outside, but a reddish sand color on the inside. Remember the fire on the mountain.

2. The Lord said, “I carried you on eagle’s wing and brought you to me” (19:4). How many times have you seen those words printed on cards and calenders, or plaques? God, powerful and holy, had miraculously carried Israel from captivity, bondage, and death in Egypt to meet Him at Mt. Sinai. That is what Sinai is all about! It is not about geography or archaeology, it is about a relationship with the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. When the Lord was bringing them to Sinai, He was not bringing them to a point on a map, He was bringing them to Himself. When they left Sinai a year later, they left with a commitment to follow Yahweh to the land flowing with milk and honey, where they were to worship and serve the holy One of Israel. They were committed to follow the holy God to the Holy Land. Of course, we will see that they failed miserably, but before you condemn those ancient Israelites, stop to think about how many times, and in how many ways we fail the Lord Jesus Christ today, and when we sin we are sinning against a greater light. Above all, stop to reflect on how we came into the presence of the Lord when we were saved. We did not find Him, He found us and “carried us on eagle’s wings” into His presence. He gave us the faith that enables us to believe in Him for eternal life.

3. Moses met the Lord on the mountain (Ex. 19:2-6).

“Moses went up ⌊the mountain⌋ to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob, and explain to the Israelites: (4) ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. (5) Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, (6) and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

a) “Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain” (3a) This seems to mean that Moses climbed most of the way to the top of Mt. Sinai and the Lord called to him from the top of the mountain. This is the same voice Moses had heard from the burning bush (Ex. 3). This is no dream or vision. This is real. How do I know this? Because God says so! Do I have an answer for the skeptic? No, only God can give him that kind of faith, and He is willing to do it, but He does not do it against that person’s will. It is a dangerous thing to read the Word of God, and in a sense look God in the face and say, “I don’t want you!” The ego of the skeptic may glory in a rejection of God in the here and now, but for all eternity he will pay the price for it. There are no skeptics in heaven. And there will be no skeptics in hell.

b) The Lord told Moses what to say to the house of Jacob (3b). These people were descended from Jacob, son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. These are the people of the Abrahamic Covenant. They may have lost sight of the Lord at times, but He had never lost sight of them. Their salvation depended upon His remembering His covenant with Abraham, and we must remember that Abraham was saved by grace through faith, as Paul was inspired to write in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.

c) They had seen what He had done for them. “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me.” They owed their freedom, their salvation to Him, not to Moses, not to Aaron, not to luck or chance, and not to themselves. He had destroyed the mighty Egyptian army and he had delivered the Children of Israel as miraculously as if He had borne them “on eagle’s wings” to Himself at Sinai. Their salvation was all of God, and not themselves. Our salvation today is totally and absolutely the work of Jesus Christ, not our strength, wisdom, or luck. We are saved “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8).

It is significant that the Lord did not say, “I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to Sinai,”
but, “I brought you to Me.” Today, there is a rather heated debate among some Christians over the subject of Calvinism. I believe I am a little more like John Calvin than some believers. In stead of declaring myself to be a Calvinist, I simply follow Calvin’s example and quote Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In Vol. I in my series of the Book of Acts, posted on SermonCity.Com, I offer the comment on Acts 2:38:

“Repent,’ Peter said to them, ‘and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This is a critical verse and we must understand what Peter says to those who have asked what they must do. The word “repent”denotes a change of mind and will which involves a change of conduct. The Greek shows that God demands an immediate and complete renunciation of sin. Peter is saying, “You need to change your heart and mind and do it now!”

This is important. There are no punctuation marks in the Greek, but the change in the grammatical construction demands a break in action. The Word “repent” is the second person, plural, imperative, active: You must (all) take this action.

BE BAPTIZED. There is a break here. This verb is third person, singular, imperative, passive. Let each person who does repent submit himself for baptism. Those who repent, and only those who repent, are to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Those who try to find a contradiction between this verse and the Great Commission fail to understand that no one can dissect the Godhead. We are to be baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but listing only one Name here does not violate the Great Commission. [Vol. 1 in the 8 volume commentary on the Book of Acts by this writer: posted on the SermonCity.Com web site]

d) If they obey the Lord He will bless them (Ex. 19:5-6). We need to read each statement in this promise from our Lord: “Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, (6) and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.” They were saved when Yahweh delivered them, by His mighty hand, from slavery in Egypt. They had not delivered themselves. It is the same with us today. He delivers us from spiritual death and slavery to Himself when we believe in Him.

The blessing of the new life in the Lord depends upon our obedience to Him. So it was with those ancient Israelites, and so it is for us today. We must trust Him for our salvation and obey Him to appreciate His blessings. Someone has said, there are two themes in the New Testament: How to be saved and how the saved should live. While that is not exhaustive, it is a good start. God’s blessings depended upon their careful obedience to the covenant the Israelites are about to enter at Sinai. So it is with those who enter the new covenant with Jesus Christ at Calvary.

e) The Israelites promised to obey the Lord.

“After Moses came back, he summoned the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. (8) Then all the people responded together, “We will do all that the Lord has spoken. So Moses brought the people’s words back to the Lord.” (Ex 19:8)

B. God Spoke to Moses from a Dense Cloud, Ex. 19:9.

“The Lord said to Moses, “‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear when I speak with you and will always believe you.” In the next Teaching Sermon in this series I will focus on the glory of the Lord. God’s glory. Any time you think of the Glory of God remember this passage. Everything about it speaks of His glory. But of course, the Word of God is clothed in His glory. The Lord had spoken to Moses on a number of occasions, but this time He will permit the Israelites to hear Him as He speaks to the man chosen to lead them. We are not given all the circumstances, but it was a miracle of Yahweh that He could speak to Moses and two million people could hear Him and understand that He was speaking to Moses, and He was speaking to Moses about them. This speaks of His Omnipotence, His Omnipresence, and His Omniscience. It also speaks of His glory.

C. The Lord Tells Moses What He Wants Him to Do (19:10-13).

“And the Lord told Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes (11) and be prepared by the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”

1. He was told to concentrate the people “today and tomorrow” (19:10). They were to wash their clothes (in the hot, dry wilderness!), which, if that was a part of the consecration might explain why it would take two days to accomplish it. They not only had water to drink, they had water to wash their clothes and water in which to take a bath. They also needed water for their animals. And this was in an area that gets about one-half inch of rain in ten years!

2. The Lord would come down on Mount Sinai in sight of the people (19:11). The Scripture here does not explain just how the people would see the Lord, since no one could see Him in His full glory and live. Or does it? Remember verse 9? Yahweh said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear when I speak with you and will always believe you.” They would not see God face to face, and may not have seen anything more than the dense cloud (and smoke and fire) which protected the people from His glory.

3. They must put boundaries around the mountain (19:12-13).

“Put boundaries for the people all around the ⌊mountain⌋ and say: Be careful that you don’t go up on the mountain or touch its base. Anyone who touches the mountain will be put to death. (13) No hand may touch him; instead he will be stoned or shot ⌊with arrows⌋. No animal or man will live. When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they may go up the mountain.”

There are those who will argue that if the Lord really loves people He would not let anything bad happen to them. The truth of the matter is that God is taking every precaution to prevent anything bad from happening to those people. In Scripture, He often warns people to protect them from His power, presence, and holiness. He is a God of love, but He is also a Holy God. His love offers hope and redemption, but His holiness will not accept anything less that reverential submission to Him and to His laws, statutes, and ordinances. The Bible Knowledge Commentary offers some interesting thoughts on these verses.

“Also during the three days no person or animal was to contact the mountain or he or it would be put to death. Such careful preparation underscored the significance of the event that was about to transpire. The God of the heavens was about to make a covenant with His people. Unlike pagan deities who supposedly dwelt in the mountains, the God of Israel descended from heaven (1 Kings 8:30, 49) to the mountains to converse with His people. Only when summoned by the blast of a ram’s horn (cf. Ex. 19:16, 19) were the people to go toward the mountain (v. 13) [BKC., bold in original, underline added by this writer].

4. Moses came down from the mountain to consecrate the people, 19:14-15. (14) “Then Moses came down from the mountain to the people and consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. (15) He said to the people, “Be prepared by the third day. Do not have sexual relations with women.”

D. God Came Down and Spoke from the Mountain (Ex. 19:16-25)

1. He came down in a thick cloud. “On the third day, when morning came, there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and a loud trumpet sound, so that all the people in the camp shuddered.” (19:16)

2. Moses led the people to the foot of Mt. Sinai. “Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.” (19:17) They could approach the mountain and behold the miraculous visitation from the Lord, but they had to stay behind the barriers the Lord told them to build.

3. The Lord descended and His presence was manifested miraculously. “Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke because the Lord came down on it in fire. Its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. (19) As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him in the thunder.” (Ex. 19:18-19). This phenomenal manifestation of the presence of the Lord was for a purpose. But, what was that purpose? The Lord had already provided that information: “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear when I speak with you and will always believe you.” (19:9).

There was smoke on the mountain because there was fire on the mountain and both testified to the presence of Yahweh on the mountain. The smoke came up from the mountain like smoke from a furnace because the Lord came down in fire. Both the fire and the smoke testified to the presence of the Lord on Mt. Sinai. When He came down “the whole mountain shook violently.” This was an awesome visitation by Yahweh, Who had heard the cries of the Israelites who were suffering in Egypt and could not help themselves. He sent Moses to deliver them and he had led them to Mount Sinai. They were witnessing a phenomenal event no one else had ever witnessed. In fact, there were more miracles associated with Sinai than at any other time since the Flood of Noah’s day.

4. “The Lord came down on Mount Sinai at the top of the mountain” (19:20-22). The Lord came down upon Mt. Sinai and,

“Then the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and he went up. (21) The Lord directed Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to see the Lord; otherwise many of them will die. (22) Even the priests who come near the Lord must purify themselves or the Lord will break out ⌊in anger⌋ against them.”

Any violation of the person or presence of the Lord would bring His wrath down upon the people. Even though some will read this and question the love of God for human beings, it is actually a testimony to His holiness and His glory. Electricity is a blessing to those who have access to it. Think of all the appliances we have in our homes, as well as the tools in our shops. Think of the traffic lights that depend on electricity. Where would we be without it? Those of us who live in the deep south, where we have intense heat and high humidity to go with it appreciate the need for electricity to run out air conditioners. As important as electricity is, we must be very careful with it or it can injure or kill those who mishandle it. Nuclear power can be used to bless or it can be a curse. God’s awesome power can be a blessing to those who obey and honor Him, but it a terrible thing for sinners to violate the presence of the Lord.

5. Moses remembered the warning of the Lord (19:23-25).

“But Moses responded to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, since You warned us: Put a boundary around the mountain and consider it holy.” (24 And the Lord replied to him, “Go down and come back with Aaron. But the priests and the people must not break through to come up to the Lord, or He will break out ⌊in anger⌋ against them.” (25) So Moses went down to the people and told them.”

Moses remembered the warning of the Lord, who had told them to put a boundary around the mountain, “and consider it holy.” He was then told to go back and get Aaron and bring him back to where he had met with the Lord. Is there any wonder that Bob Cornuke looked all this over and reverently said, “We are on holy ground”?


Now, let me ask you a question. The Israelites camped before Mt. Sinai for months and there can be not doubt that they looked regularly at the mountain and other things associated with their Sinai experience. What do you think they saw every day when they looked toward the mountain that would remain a part of their lives and a part of their history for thousands of years? The top of the mountain looked like obsidian (a dark volcanic like rock).

Let me share a few things Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams saw at Mt. Sinai, and then add some of the observations Jim and Penny Caldwell, along with their son and daughter added. The Caldwells approached the area where they expected to see Mt. Sinai and the first thing they saw was a very high mountain, the top of which was black, while everything around it was a reddish sand color. All around the mountain, everything was the same color, but as they approached the top of the mountain everything was black, like coal. Penny Caldwell said it was like walking on obsidian. In the sunlight there was a bluish cast to it. The Caldwells were there 14 times in 8 years.

Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams, as I mentioned earlier, walked on the top of the mountain and picked up some of those black rocks and slammed them down against other rocks. When they broke open the rocks the inside was the same color as the rocks and sand leading up to the black top of the mountain. This should remind us of the smoke on the mountain that the people saw from a distance. It also reminds us that Yahweh came down on the top of the mountain in a fire.

When both teams approached one side of the mountain they were surprised to see what looked like an altar at the base of the mountain. There were two channels of rock that led to that altar, if in fact it was an altar. The first side of the channel was longer and it came to a right angle to the right, leading through a short channel which led to what may have been an altar. Remember that Moses was instructed to offer a burnt offering to the Lord at that place? This just gets better and better!

Then, the explorers, Cornuke and Williams, spotted a series of rock piles and when they surveyed them they found that about every 400 feet there was a huge pile of sizable rocks. Those rocks looked to have been between 8 and 12 inches in diameter. And they are still there, with piles of rocks at intervals around the base of the mountain, back some distance from it.

They also found some round columns, and showed one that looked like it was about 22 to 24 inches in diameter and about 12 - 15 inches high. They may have been stacked to make a column, as they had no doubt done many times in Egypt. However, we must remind ourselves that the Lord told them to use natural or uncut rocks for the altar, so I would like to know more about those round stones.

Williams and Cornuke, as well as the Caldwell, found one area that was surrounded by a chain link fence, with barbed wire at the top, as you will find around a prison yard. There were armed guards stationed there. Inside the fence they could see very large stones, and upon one of them there was an outline of a calf or cow that had been etched into the flat side of the stone. Everything they saw inside the fence was Egyptian, but it was in Saudi Arabia. Jim Caldwell wondered whether or not the Saudis would send in bulldozers to destroy it if they understood the significance of it.

Penny Caldwell showed picture of flat stones all around her with the outline of feet etched into the surface. She then found the Scripture in which the Israelites were promised all the land where they placed their feet. Some of them may have assumed that would begin at Sinai, rather than in Canaan.

Now, let me remind you that what those explorers found is called evidence and as Bob Cornuke points out, evidence doesn’t tell you anything on its own. It is the interpretation of the evidence that matters, and the interpretation must be right. Neither team of explorers is infallible. Both can be wrong about some of the evidence. There is, however, irrefutable evidence in the form of an inspired testimony, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

When I was in New Orleans Seminary I learned that R. G. Lee was preaching a revival in a large church in the city, so my wife Becky and I drove over to hear my all time favorite preacher. When I was growing up we got home from church about 11:20 every Sunday, just in time to see Dr. Lee step up to the pulpit, bow in his white Palm Beach suit and pour his heart out to the Lord. He then stood and poured out his heart to those who were listening to him. We ate Sunday dinner after R. G. Lee preached, including the Sunday when at 12:00 noon he whirled toward the television camera and shouted, “And don’t you turn me off!” They left him on through fifteen minutes of the Noon News.

When we got to the Mid-City Baptist Church in New Orleans and found seats I looked above the choir loft and read the word on a banner: “God Said, I believe it, and that settles it.” I repeated those words many times, and having met the pastor and having heard him preach, I knew he was sound doctrinally, but I still had an uncomfortable feeling about that banner. Then, one day it hit me! When God says it, it is settled whether I believe it or not! When God speaks, He is declaring divine truth. It is irrefutable. When God speaks it is up to me to get in on what He is up to! It is not my place to try to get God to get in on what I am up to!

What does that have to do with the Book of Exodus, and why do I need to know what happened to a bunch of homeless Israelites at some questionable site? God spoke divine truth. God revealed His plans for His Chosen People. What they are about to hear would tell them to have faith in Him, serve him, worship Him, and offer sacrifices to Him until all Messianic prophecies were fulfilled. They have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the One who poured out His blood upon Calvary’s cross to pay the price for our sins and to provide eternal salvation to all who believe in Him.

There are many lessons in these chapters from Exodus, but there is one thing we should never lose sight of, and that is the fact that Israel entered a covenant relationship with the Lord at Sinai. At a place called Calvary, Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice to cover our sins and provide for our eternal salvation. When we place our faith in Jesus we enter a new covenant, the New Covenant, with our Lord. The First Covenant points us at all times to the New Covenant. Jesus fulfilled the hopes and promises of the First Covenant and the New Covenant has never needed to be replaced, updated, or amended. I thank God that I am included under that New Covenant. How about you?