Exodus 19 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
Mount Sinai is where God first revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush and called him to go back to Pharaoh to lead His people out of Egypt. Now that the Israelites had been liberated from their slavery, Moses is leading them back to that same mountain in order to meet with God and to enter into a covenant with Him.
Through Moses, the Lord reminds the Israelites that He had raised them up on eagles’ wings and brought them to Himself in this special place, and He’s charging them now to obey his voice and keep his covenant that they might become His treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.
As a kingdom of priests, the Lord calls them to wash their clothes and to consecrate themselves to serve Him like priests in this holy gathering. So for two days they cleansed themselves, prayed, and mentally prepared themselves to meet with God who had promised to come down to them on the third day.
But unlike in the Garden of Eden He didn’t walk with them in the cool of the day. Instead, he appeared to them in a dark cloud up above, and He spoke to them in the crashing of thunder. As He drew near to them and began to speak, Mt. Sinai quaked and trembled, both fire and lightning filled the sky and thick smoke descended upon them.
Can you imagine if you were there with the Israelites on that day how you would respond to such a fantastic display? Clearly these sights and sounds were meant to convey something of the power, purity and holiness of God and of man’s sinfulness in relationship to Him. Even after cleansing themselves and consecrating themselves, they still were not clean enough to get close to Him without being in real danger. Moses said that they would die if they even touched the foot of the mountain.
God also did not fully reveal Himself to them at Sinai. His glory was still veiled and mysterious to those who came to Him. But now in Christ Jesus God’s glory has been unveiled. In Hebrews 12:18ff it reads, “For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further message be spoken to them…Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
Now that God has come near to us in the flesh one might think that our interaction with the Lord can be on more casual terms, but that is not at all what the writer of Hebrews is suggesting. For in the following verses he compares Mt. Sinai on earth with Mt. Zion in heaven where innumerable angels are gathered along with the saints around the throne of God, the judge of all, and of Christ Jesus His son. And the writer exhorts the Church not to refuse whim who is speaking saying, “if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.” No, he urges God’s people to “offer God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” The God of the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament. He is not one ounce less wrathful or fearful, which is why we cling to Christ by faith who suffered His wrath in our place.