For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. Exodus 19:2
Jebel Musa, the mount of Moses, rises 7,500 feet above the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula and is believed to be the mountain where Moses met God. A good case can also be made for Ras es-Safsafeh a 6,540-foot peak just to the north of Jebel Musa. It features a wide plain where the Israelites could have made camp.
Sinai is the most famous mountain in Scripture. Even the non-church crowd knows the story of Moses getting the Ten Commandments on the mountain. But with the high drama of the giving of the Law with the thunder and lightning that accompanied God’s appearance, and the fact that the account is spread over several chapters, it is easy to miss all that happened at Sinai.
So what happened at Sinai?
It was a place of commitment. The Red Sea had been parted. The Egyptians destroyed. At Sinai God makes an amazing offer. “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people.” (Exodus 19:5.) God had demonstrated His power on Israel’s behalf through plagues, deliverance, and miracles. He affirms His covenant and His choice of Israel and asks for their commitment.
Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (Exodus 19:8) God has demonstrated His power on our behalf through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How’s our commitment to Him?
It was a place of consecration. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.” (Exodus 19:10) Consecrate means set apart for God’s use. Why is laundry part of that? It looked forward to putting on the righteousness of Christ.
It was a place of meeting. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. (Exodus 19:11) Think of it. God Himself came down to the mountain in the sight of all the people. Through Christ, we have that kind of access available to us.
Chapters 20-23 recount the laws and regulations God gave the nation. This is where it’s easy to drop the narrative thread.
It was a place of promise. Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. (Exodus 23:20) God sends His personal representative (perhaps Christ Himself) to ensure that Israel comes into the Land God prepared and promised them. We have the Holy Spirit as the guarantee that God will keep the promises He made us.
It was a place of worship. Now He said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. (Exodus 24:1) This is an incredible invitation. Even though it says “afar” God invites the priests and the representatives of the people to come as close as they could humanly approach. We are a kingdom of priests and the people of God. The invitation still stands and through Christ, we are privileged to draw near.
It was a place of fellowship. So they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:11b) A banquet in the presence of God. A wondrous as that is… we will enjoy a banquet of our own one day.
Israel spent almost a year at Sinai. We would do well to spend some time in a place of consecration, meeting, promise, worship, and fellowship. Maybe starting today.
Next week: Hebron