Friday 20 July 2018

Bible Book:

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled.” (v. 16)

Psalm: Psalm 110


When God called Moses to go to Pharaoh, one of the promises made was that the people would “worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12) and verse two of today’s passage locates the people setting up camp at the base of Mount Sinai. The location is disputed but the Sinai Peninsula is a possibility where there is a collection of peaks, the highest known as Mount Catherine. In the 6th century a monastery (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was built here, at a location believed to be where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-2).

This passage is about preparing the people for an experience of God’s presence, one which could not be entered into lightly. Moses was summoned and given beautiful words to take back to the people, picturing God carrying them upon eagles’ wings (verse 4). There is another lovely passage in Deuteronomy 32:11 which gives the same picture, describing one of the large eagles in that region carrying its young out of the nest to teach them to fly. If the people would be obedient and keep God’s covenant they would become “a treasured possession” (v. 5) set aside for a purpose, “a priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (v. 6) that would spread God’s grace throughout the world (Genesis 12:3). The nation of Israel was a distinct and holy nation because their God was holy and distinct, as were God’s purposes and plans (Deuteronomy 7:6).

The seriousness of God appearing in this manner is emphasised by the gruesome description of what would happen to those who tested the boundaries established by God. So the people were prepared and on the third day brought by Moses to the mountain, where God descended in cloud and fire, accompanied by thunder and lightning and a mysterious trumpet blast. It must have been both an awesome and a frightening moment to be in the presence of God amidst this display of power. In Hebrews 12:21, Moses is said to “tremble with fear”!

To Ponder

  • There was a sense of things coming together for the people, of God’s word being fulfilled by his appearance at the mountain. On your own spiritual journey where can you see similar signposts of God working in your life?
  • What do you think about God setting access limits on the mountain?
  • The people, including the priests, were to consecrate themselves prior to God appearing. Why might those who had already dedicated their lives to God’s service need to re-examine their calling?
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