Remembering the Passover & Exodus: a selection of passages & meditations
"If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession"

Scripture: Exodus 19:1-25; 20:18-20

(19) 1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 And when they set out from Reph'idim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mountain.

3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, 6 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." 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.

9 And the LORD said to Moses, "Lo, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you for ever." Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. 10 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, 11 and be ready by the third day; for on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set bounds for the people round about, saying, `Take heed that you do not go up into the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death; 13 no hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.' When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain." 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, "Be ready by the third day; do not go near a woman."

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightning, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.

20 And the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to gaze and many of them perish. 22 And also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out upon them." 23 And Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for thou thyself didst charge us, saying, `Set bounds about the mountain, and consecrate it.'" 24 And the LORD said to him, "Go down, and come up bringing 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." 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

(20) 18 Now when all the people perceived the thunderings and the lightnings and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled; and they stood afar off, 19 and said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will hear; but let not God speak to us, lest we die." 20 And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear; for God has come to prove you, and that the fear of him may be before your eyes, that you may not sin."

Meditation: Three months after the Israelites had left Egypt they pitched camp at the mountain of God, the place God chose to reveal himself to all of Israel. This was in fulfillment of God's promise to Moses: After you have led the people out of Egypt, you are to offer worship to God on this mountain (Exodus 3:12). This was God's purpose in freeing the Israelites from bondage to Egypt, that he might bind them to himself as his own possession and make of them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. God drew them to Mount Sinai to make a solemn covenant with them and to teach them how to follow him as a holy nation and to fear him above all else as their God and King. The fear of God leads to wisdom and right judgment (Psalm 111:10; Psalm 119:38; Proverbs 8:13, 14:27). Do you fear the Lord and treasure his word in your heart?

God instructed Moses to have the people consecrate themselves and to be ready for the third day when God would visibly manifest himself to the whole people. Never before had God manifested himself to the whole people, except to certain individuals, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. In this encounter with an all-holy God, it was necessary for the people to purify themselves so they would be fit to approach the Lord of hosts.

When Moses brought the people out of the camp to the foot of the mountain on the third day, they trembled with fear because the mountain was wrapped in smoke and the Lord descended upon it in fire. When Moses spoke, God's voice sounded like peals of thunder.

God has established the new covenant in his son, Jesus Christ, by his death and resurrection, and through the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, God manifested his presence with the sound like the rush of a mighty wind and the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples of Jesus with flames of fire (Acts 2:1-4). God has given us a new covenant in his son, Jesus Christ, and has made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people (1 Peter 2:9). We are called to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:14-17). The true sign of our love for God is our willingness to obey and follow him in lives of righteousness and holiness. Do you seek to conform your will to God's will and to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you have called us to be a holy people, set apart for your kingdom and for your glory. Purify my heart and accept the offering of my life, my will, and all that I have. Transform me by the fire of your Holy Spirit that I may be holy as you are holy."

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(c) 1999, 2001, 2002 Don Schwager