Three months had passed since God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt. During this time the Israelites had proven to be a nation of whiners, complaining about how they were fed and grumbling about how they were led. Moses had proven to be an able leader, taking the problems to the Lord and delegating his work to trusted aides. And God had proven Himself to be a faithful shepherd, providing bread from heaven’s bakery and water from a rock.
God called His people to meet with Him on Mount Sinai. We don’t know the exact location of this mountain, but most scholars identify it with “Gebel Musa”, a 7,497-ft. mountain on the Sinai Peninsula in modern-day Egypt (about 900 feet higher than Mt. LeConte; see the photo of it above). The important thing is not the exact location of the mountain, but the fact that God was there.
In preparation for the giving of the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law, God instructed Moses to bring the Israelites to the foot of Mt. Sinai to meet with Him. Moses was to remind them of their past and their future. They had been slaves in Egypt, but God “bore them on eagles’ wings” to freedom (v.4). Their future was to be God’s special people and His priests to the rest of the world (v.5-6). The people received this message heartily and prepared themselves to hear from God (v.8).
As the people went out to meet the Lord, His majestic glory was on display on the mountain. They heard the ear-splitting trumpet blast and claps of holy thunder. They saw the lightning, the fire, and the smoke of God’s glory. They felt the earthquake of God’s movement, and they trembled in His presence.
This chapter reminds me today that as a child of God, I can enter His presence and hear Him speak. I am His special treasure (v.5), and He calls me near. But I had better maintain a deep sense of respect and awe for Him. He is holy and full of glory; I am a grace-saved sinner, full of self. He is high and lifted up; I am His servant. He is the Law-giver; I am the one whose sin the Law exposes.
Enter God’s presence today — confidently, but carefully.