Exodus 19 - Outline of Exodus (Book Notes menu page)
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.
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
{ie., Mount Sinai}.
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;
19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians,
and [how] I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
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:
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.
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.
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.
At Mount Sinai, God established the Mosaic Covenant with Israel.
  • This Covenant consists of three interconnected parts:
    1. the Commandments, expressing the righteous will of God. Ex 20:1-26
    2. the Judgments, governing the social life of Israel. Ex 21:1- 24:11
    3. the Ordinances, governing the religious life of Israel. Ex 24:12- 31:18
    Together, these three elements are "the Law" (as the term is used in the NT, eg., Mat 5:17,18).
  • The Commandments were a "ministry of condemnation" and of "death" (2Cor 3:7-9),
    revealing man's sinfulness and guilt before a holy God (Rom 3:19,20).
  • The Ordinances revealed the way by which sinful men might have a right relationship with God.
    In the priest, the people were provided with a representative before God (Heb 5:1-3).
    In the sacrifices, an atonement (a 'covering') was provided for their sins in anticipation of the cross of Christ (Heb 9:6-12; Rom 3:21-26).
    [The above points were adapted from ScofRB]
ye have seen... how I bore you on eagles' wings...-
Up until this time, God had been dealing with Israel by Grace.
- - He did not intend the Law, to be a means by which men might earn acceptance before God. They were already a redeemed people. He had redeemed them from Egypt by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the Power of His hand. Even under the Law, the means of Justification continued to be 'by faith' in God's provision (as it was in Abraham's day, Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3-5).
- - Galatians 3:6-25 explains the relation of the Law to the Abrahamic Covenant:
    1. the Law cannot cancel the covenant which conveys righteousness by faith;
    2. the Law was 'added' to convict men of sin;
    3. the Law was a 'school master' (child raiser) to bring us to Christ;
    4. the Law was a preparatory discipline 'till the Seed should come.' [adapted from ScofRB]
if ye will obey... and keep... then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me...-
The Law was intended to direct and correct a chosen people, so that their lives would reflect the holiness of the One who called them. cp. Lev 20:7,8; Deu 26:16-19
Note the conditional nature of this promise ("if... then...").
  • This is the weakness of the Law.
    The Law cannot make men holy, because men cannot keep it. (Rom 8:3; Heb 7:18,19)
  • But under Grace, the believer is freely given what he could never obtain under Law.
    (cp. 1Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10)
All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.-
God was extending to Israel a continued covenant of grace (v.4-6).
But they presumptiously said "we will do" (v.8). They took upon themselves a vow which they could not pay (cp. Deu 23:21-23). The essence of a vow presumes competency to fulfill it.
     Now, God would need to show them their inability. Therefore, He set them at a distance (v.9-12) and put them under the Law.
     Note that in Deuteronomy 5:27,28 (see Deu 5:24-29), the LORD was not commending them for their vow, so much as for their confession that they could not stand in His presence. He knew that they would not be able to perform what they had vowed (Deu 5:29).
The Dispensation of Law begins here, with (A) the giving of the Law,
and (B) Israel's acceptance of responsibility to fulfill the Law.
- - Because Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law (in behalf of those who could not keep it), those who are 'in Christ' are not under the conditional Covenant of Law, but under the unconditional New Covenant of Grace (cp. Rom 3:21-27; 6:14,15; 8:1-4; Gal 2:16; Heb 10:11-17).
Also, see the Notes at Heb 8:8-13 concerning the New Covenant.
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.
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,
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.
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:
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
{ie., approach} the mount.
19:14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people;
and they washed their clothes.
19:15 And he said unto the people,
Be ready against the third day: come not at [your] wives.
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.
19:17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God;
and they stood at the nether
{ie., lower} part of the mount.
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.
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.
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.
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.
19:22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves,
lest the LORD break forth upon them.
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.
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.
19:25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.
set bounds... lest the people break through...-
The Law excludes sinful man from access to the holy God.
The severe nature of this exclusion is demonstrated in that:
  • It remained in effect, though the people prepared themselves to meet God.
  • Its violation resulted in death.
  • Its limits were established and emphasized by the LORD's repeated command. (v.12, v.21-24)
all the people... trembled (v.16)-
Under Law, sinful men fear and dread the presence of God. cp. Psa 90:7,8; Heb 10:31
Under Grace, perfected men have peace in the presence of God. Heb 12:18-24

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