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Exodus Nineteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Exodus 19:1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.

wilderness of Sinai. The Sinai peninsula, with its Mount Sinai (also called Mount Horeb) was to be the home of the vast body of Israelites for the next forty years. The exact location of Mount Sinai itself is still a matter of argument, although tradition has long associated it with the volcanic mountain called Jebel Musa, near the southern tip of the peninsula, where the Greek Orthodox Church's St. Catherine's Monastery was built in the sixth century a.d.

Exodus 19:2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.

Exodus 19:3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;

Exodus 19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.

Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

kingdom of priests. Israel was called by God to be a peculiarly holy nation, as a witness to all other nations that either had already departed from acknowledging the true God of creation, or were in the process. In the sense of mediating between other nations and God, all the Israelites were to serve as a royal priesthood, even though within their own nation the tribe of Levi would be designated as their priests. This wonderful offer was given to Israel even before they received the Ten Commandments. Even though they failed miserably, the promise is still there, probably to be accomplished in the millennial age (Isaiah 61:6; Revelation 5:10). In the meantime, in this present age Christian believers have been chosen spiritually to be both a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, 9), and this shall be our privilege throughout eternity (Revelation 1:6).

Exodus 19:7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.

Exodus 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

we will do. Moses, as the mediator between God and His people, is here a distinct type of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). Note that the people promised, both before and after the giving of the law (Exodus 24:3) to do everything the Lord commanded.

Exodus 19:9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.

Exodus 19:10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,

Exodus 19:11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.

Exodus 19:12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

Exodus 19:13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

Exodus 19:14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.

Exodus 19:15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.

Exodus 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

Exodus 19:17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

out of the camp. This is the first of more than thirty references to events that took place outside of the camp of the Israelites in the wilderness. Anything unclean was to be “burned without the camp” (Hebrews 13:11). As He bore our sins, the Lord Jesus “suffered without the gate,” and thus we are exhorted to “go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:12, 13).

Exodus 19:18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

mount Sinai. There has been much disagreement about the identification of Mount Sinai (same as Mount Horeb). The traditional site is the 7300 foot volcanic peak called by the Arabs, Jebel Musa (Mount of Moses), which overlooks a large plain where the children of Israel could have camped.

Exodus 19:19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.

voice of the trumpet. There seems to have been a host of angels present around Mount Sinai as the Law was being given (note Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19) and one or more were blowing loudly on the trumpet of God. This, along with the lightning and dark cloud and great quaking of the mountain, made an awe-inspiring spectacle which the people could never forget (or so it would have seemed). Compare the exposition of this scene in Hebrews 12:18-21.

Exodus 19:20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

Exodus 19:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.

Exodus 19:22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.

Exodus 19:23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.

Exodus 19:24 And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them.

the priests. This is the only mention of priests in Israel prior to God's instructions for ordaining Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. Possibly this is a reference to the judges (Exodus 18:25-27) serving as a temporary body of priests along with Aaron until the more formal investiture of Aaron and his sons.

Exodus 19:25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.