Watch this video of Exodus 19-40 for an overview of the rest of Exodus. Find this and other excellent Biblical videos from the Bible Project at this website: https://thebibleproject.com/
Overview of Exodus 19-40: The Israelites travel to Mt. Sinai, where God invites them into a covenant relationship. God gives them the ten commandments but Israel rebels against God by making an idol of the golden calf.
In the Presence of God
Exodus 19: 1-2 “In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. 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.“
It had been exactly two months since the children of Israel left Egypt. Before leaving, they had seen God in action during the plagues and had witnessed His protection. They had witnessed the passing over of the death angel when the firstborn of the Egyptians died while Israel’s firstborn lived. On leaving Egypt, they had followed the pillow of fire by night and the cloud by day, saw the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, witnessed the death by drowning of the Egyptian soldiers, experienced God’s protection against their enemies, witnessed water gushing from a rock, bitter water changed to sweet, and manna and quail provided for their nourishment. Miracle after miracle, they saw God’s power and mercy to this complaining, ungrateful people called the children of Israel.
They had camped at Rephidim where they had rested for awhile. Breaking camp they traveled into the Wilderness of Sinai and camped at the base of the mountain called Mount Sinai where Moses had first met God in the burning bush. At this point God has brought them here in order to tell them why He brought them out of slavery. Moses is called to meet with God.
Exodus 19: 3-6 “And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “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 bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Reminding them of what they had seen and experienced in the last two months, God promises to make the Israelites a nation of priests and a holy nation if they will obey His voice and keep His commandments. They will be “a special treasure” to God.
In response to God’s message, Moses calls the elders of the people together and speaks the words God had given him. They are in agreement to do all that God commands and Moses took their words back to God.
Exodus 19:7-8 “So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him. Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord.”
A Special Called Meeting
Exodus 19: 9-13 “And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever.” So Moses told the words of the people to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”
Preparation for Worship
Exodus 19: 14-15 “So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives.”
God’s people were commanded to spiritually and physically get ready to meet God. Their minds and bodies were to be prepared for worship. They were to wash their clothes, abstain from sex and consecrate themselves before appearing before Holy God. Thoughts were to be about the God who had led them from bondage to freedom. They were to remember how God had brought them from Egypt and remember all the miraculous ways He had shown them His power. God wanted them to be grateful for what He had done and praise Him just as they had sang songs of praise after He brought them through the Red Sea to stand on dry ground on the other side. God wanted the Israelites to remember that He is holy, awesome, powerful God
How do you prepare to worship God?
Exodus 19: 16-20 “Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.“
Exodus 19: 21-25 “And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” But Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it.’” Then the Lord said to him, “Away! Get down and then come up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest He break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.”
God’s Ten Commandments
Exodus 20: 1-17 “And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything 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 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 generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments
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.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Afraid of God’s Presence
Exodus 20: 18-26 “Now all the people witnessed the thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. You shall not make anything to be with Me—gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves. An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.’
The people were afraid of being in the presence of God. They recognized the power of Almighty God and could not be in His presences because they were sinful. Will you be able to stand before God with His great power and glory?