19:16 - 20:20
God at Sinai
And it came to pass on the morning of the third day, that there was thunder and lightning,
and a thick cloud on the mount, and the sound of the trumpet very loud; so that all the
people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forward the people out of the
camp to meet with God; and they stood at the bottom part of the mount. And Mount
Sinai was completely covered by smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire: and
its smoke ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.
And when the sound of the trumpet sounded long, and grew louder and louder, Moses
spoke, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down on Mount Sinai, on
the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses
And the LORD said to Moses, God down, command the people, for fear that they break
through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, who
come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, for fear that the LORD break forward upon
And Moses said to the LORD, The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai: for you
commanded us, saying, Set boundaries around the mount, and sanctify it.
And the LORD said to him, Go away, you go down, and yhou shall come up, you, and
Aaron with you: but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the
LORD, for fear that He break forward upon them.
So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.
On the third day of the third month, the nation of Israel came to the foot of Mount Sinai
to hear Jehovah [or, Yahweh] their God. God had prepared Israel for that day.
Moses relayed the preparatory message of Jehovah to the people:
"Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; you have seen
what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles' wings, and brought you to
myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you
shall be a special treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine. And yhou
shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you
shall speak to the children of Israel. [19:3-6]
The reaction of the people was:
"All that the LORD has spoken we will do." [19:8]
God told Moses how the people were to prepare for the meeting. For two days they were
to separate themselves and wash their clothes. Boundaries were to be set up to keep the
people from going up the mountain. They were not even allowed to touch the mountain.
If any one touched the mountain, they were to be put to death, either by stoning or
pierced through with a small sword [sometimes called a "dart" in the KJV] or spear. This
applied to both man and animal. They were only to approach the mountain when they
heard the sounding of the trumpet.
On that 3rd day, the trumpet sounded. The volume was very loud. Loud enough to
startle everyone in the camp of Israel.
Moses brought the people to the foot of the mountain. The mountain was covered with
smoke because the LORD came down on the mountain in fire. The smoke was thick, and
the sky rumbled with thunder and lit-up with lightning. The thunder was so loud that the
ground shook, it quaked like an earthquake. The trumpet sounded louder and louder, and
Moses spoke to God, and God answered with a voice.
Moses was called up to the mountain to speak with God int he presence of all the people.
There Moses assured God that he had followed His instructions. God reminded him, and
wanted him to remind the people of the penalty for violating the "no approach rule." It
was after Moses returned to the foot of the mountain and reminded the people that the
voice of God thundered from the top of the mountain.
These are the words that God spoke. These are not the words of man. These are not the
words of a prophet. These are the words of God.
I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt,out of the house
Jehovah identifies himself. Surely by now, God needed no introduction to the nation of
Israel. They had seen what He had done in the wilderness, and had seen what God had
done in Egypt. This introduction was meant to reinforce their knowledge of Who He
was. He was the LORD. The Hebrew word literally means, "The One Who is, The One
Who was, and the One Who will be." In other words, the eternally existing One. The
name God revealed Himself by when He spoke to him from the burning bush. The name
has come to be known as "the covenant name of God." It is His personal guarantee of the
words which were to follow. He has brought them out of the land of Egypt. He has
delivered them out of the land of Egypt. He has delivered them from their lives of slavery.
He has cared for them in the wilderness. He is their Deliverer. He is their Savior. He is
You shall have no other gods before me.
Not only is Jehovah the God of Israel, He is the only God of Israel. Israel had come from
the nation of Egypt. The Egyptians, like the rest of the ancient world, were a society of
multiple gods. The Egyptians had a god for everything. In fact, a case could be made
that the plagues which God brought upon the Egyptians were calculated to challenge the
major gods of Egypt and show that the God of Israel was superior to any of the gods of
Egypt. Having been in an atmosphere of polytheism would make Israel susceptible to
accepting multiple gods. They are about to enter a land with multiple gods. It was
important for them to remember Who was their God, and that He is the One and Only
You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you
shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a
jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth
generation of those who hate me; and showing mercy to thousands of those who love me,
and keep my commandments.
Israel was not to make any type of image, or icon. They were not to attempt to make an
image of anything in heaven. They were no to make an image of anything on the earth.
They were not to make an image of anything under the earth. They were not to make an
image of anything in the sea. They were not to worship, or bow down before any image.
They were not to act as though the images were able to do anything. They were not to
serve, nor obey them.
Jehovah is a jealous God. He will not dismiss the spiritual adultery of serving another
God. He will punish those who serve another god for three or four generations. He is not
a God to be messed with.
But, Jehovah is also a merciful God. Those who love Him and keep His commandments
are rewarded. The concept is much the same as that expressed by the apostle Paul:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he who comes
to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those
who diligently seek Him. -- Hebrews 11:6
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold
him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Jehovah must be respected. He must be treated with reverence. Therefore, His name
must be treated with that same respect, and with that same reverence. That is what
godliness is: an attitude of respect, reverence and awe which is sometimes called "the fear
of the LORD."
The name of Jehovah [Yahweh] was held in such respect by the Jews that they refused to
speak it. Instead of speaking the name of JHVH [YHWH] they would say Adonai, the
Hebrew word for "Lord." Thus, the pronunciation of the name was lost. Jehovah was
adopted by some by placing the vowel sounds of Adonai in the Tetragrammaton [a fancy
word that means four letters]. Some scholars believe that the proper pronunciation is
Respect for God's name does not mean that we cannot use it, what it means is that we
should not misuse it. Do not say that God has said something which He has not. Do not
present false prophecy in the name of Jehovah. Do not present new commandments,
saying that Jehovah has so commanded. Do not use God's name as a by-word, or
interjection. Do not swear by God's name, as Jesus commanded: Again, you have
heard that it has been said by those of old time, You shall not forswear yourself,
but shall perform your oaths to the Lord: but I say to you, Swear not at all; neither
by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither
by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shall you swear by your
head, because you can not make one hair white or black. But let your
communication be, Yes, Yes; No, No: for whatever is more than these comes of
evil. -- Matthew 5:33-37; see also James 5:12.
Remember, God will not let this slide.