Moses has had his time freed up by setting up a tiered structure for the people to go for help. Now it’s time for him to get one on one time with God to share further instructions with the people.
Have you ever noticed that God does things in steps and stages? Moses was so busy taking care of the people’s daily squabbles that he didn’t have time for anything else. From morning until evening every day he sat and handed down God’s decisions for the people’s issues. I’m betting a LOT of those issues were petty and (I’m just going to say it) stupid! “He took my tent site.” “She took manna from where I was gathering.” “He stole one of my sheep.” (That one might be a little bigger but who could tell one from the other with so many roaming about ?)
Things that the people could have easily handled if they would have worked together and tried using a little love. Probably the same kinds of issues we are dealing with today that need a LOT of work!
Moses wasn’t free to spend time with the Lord. He probably went to Him in the evenings after his meal but even that was limited time. But God brought Jethro to help him in this area. Jethro’s instructions were godly and I believe straight from God. Once those instructions were put in place and tested a little, it was time for Moses to take the next step. It was time for deepening the relationship between God and Moses and God and His people. It’s time for the real work to begin! Let’s see what that looks like in our band of travelers.
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After Jethro departed for his home, not many days later the pillar of smoke rose above the camp to signal they were to make ready for departure. Everything was packed and ready to go by midday. The last of the belongings went into the packs after the people completed their midday meal.
“It’s time to go” Moses calls to the people.
Once again they set out following the Lord wherever He leads. Since they got a late start that day the Lord leads through part of the night with His pillar of fire. He seems to want them at their next destination rather quickly, almost like He is excited about what awaits them up ahead.
After several days of travel, two and a half months from the day they left Egypt to be exact; they arrive at the Lord’s chosen spot. They are in the wilderness of Sinai. They camp a short distance away from the mountain that gives this wilderness its name; Mt. Sinai.
The people are happy to see the pillar of smoke come to rest. The people begin to make camp again.
“Finally! I don’t know how much farther I could have gone.”
“You would have gone further if the Lord had kept leading us.”
“I know. I just wouldn’t have liked it.”
Moses smiles as he overhears that conversation. He too is ready to stop for a bit. He has no idea how long the Lord will have them here but he can feel in his spirit that something important is about to happen and it will happen here. What that ‘something’ is waits to be seen.
Israel is getting good at break down and set up of their camp. They have done it so many times that they have developed a routine. By evening everything is in place and the people are settled.
While the rest of Israel make camp Moses is drawn by the Lord’s Spirit to go to the mountain right before them. (Its name is Mt. Sinai.) Moses’ spirit soars within him the higher he goes on this mountain. The presence of the Lord is SO strong on this mountain that Moses feels he could actually wrap it around himself like a warm cloak. He feels comforted and encased from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.
After a few moments of sinking into that comforting feeling, Moses hears the voice of the Lord.
“Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.”
“I have a message for you to share with ‘the house of Jacob; the people of Israel: “You yourselves 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, you shall be My treasured possession among all the people, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”’ (verses 4-6b). This is what I want you to tell MY people.”
“Oh Lord! That is an amazing message! I will share it with the people right away.”
Moses came down from the mountain as quickly as he could. This message was special. His people would be “a treasured possession” for the Lord.
As soon as Moses’ feet hit flat land he began searching out the elders of the tribes. “Come to my tent as I have a word from the Lord.”
The elders assembled before Moses’ tent. “This message is for all the people but I want you to hear it first. I also want your assistance in organizing the people so I can deliver the full message to the whole congregation.”
“What is this message Moses?”
“It is a promise between the Lord and us, HIS people, to make us His ‘treasured possession among all the people of the earth IF we will obey His voice and keep His covenant.’”
“A treasured possession! That sounds comforting!”
“Yes it does. We have already seen His power in action on our behalf. Just think what more awaits the people HE calls His own! Call the people together so we can share His words with everyone.”
The meeting quickly broke up and the elders went to their tribe’s camp area. “Gather around” was the call heard in all the different locations. “There will be an assembly of ALL the people in one hour’s time. We are to gather before the mountain for Moses has a message from the Lord he will deliver at that time. EVERYONE is to attend. There are to be NO exceptions. The Lord is calling for us to make a decision and all members need to be present to make their voices heard too. Pass the word to anyone who isn’t with us right now.”
The people hurry to round up the rest of their families and finish up whatever they were working on to make it to the meeting place in time. The more excited ones arrive first and have time to wait until the rest of the assembly is gathered. When it is time, Moses walks from the side of the crowd and steps up onto the mountain’s lower boulders so all can see him.
“House of Jacob, people of Israel, the Lord has a message for you!” He takes a deep breath before beginning to share the Lord’s message. He has faith that they will give a positive answer but these people have shown themselves to be “forgetful” of the Lord’s blessings on their behalf. This is demonstrated clearly in their grumbling. Moses prays they have NONE of that attitude today. “This is what the Lord says to you. ‘You yourselves 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, you shall be My treasured possession among all the people, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Now the choice is up to you. Do you, as a people and as individuals accept this covenant with the Lord?”
It took no time for the answer to come from the people. YES! They would make this covenant with the Lord! “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (verse 8).
Moses is very pleased with their answer. “I will go and report your agreement to the Lord.” He turned away from the assembly and climbed the mountain. As soon as he had come to the spot where he had heard the Lord’s voice, he cried out with joy! “They said they agree to EVERYTHING You have proposed!”
“Yes, I heard. I am as overjoyed as you are about their decision. But I want them to have a more personal encounter with Me so they will experience My presence individually. I want the people to hear Me when I speak to you so that they will believe forever!”
“Oh Lord, that would be wonderful!”
“Before I can speak with them I need them to prepare themselves for my presence. ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, “Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 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’ (verses 10-13). They are to come up to, not on to the mountain.”
“I will make sure they know Lord. I will also make certain they prepare themselves just as You have instructed.”
Moses then went back down the mountain. The people had waited at the foot of the mountain for his return. Two hours had passed since he had left but the people remained where they were. Moses was very pleased to see them waiting on the Lord’s reply to their response. He once again stood atop the low boulder to give the people the Lord’s commands.
“The Lord is pleased with your reply. He wants to give each of you a more personal experience with Him. He wants you to hear His voice as He speaks. But before you can approach Him you must be consecrated to Him. He has told me to do this for this whole company of people. Each morning for the next three days you are ALL to gather here at the foot of the mountain where I will ask His blessing over you and proclaim this people as His own.
NO ONE is to set foot on this mountain! Anyone who does so will be killed by stoning or shooting. This includes man and beast. There is to be no sexual relations during these three days either. On the second day you will wash your garments so that on the third day you can come to Him completely clean and be ready to witness His presence.”
On the first day, following Moses’ instructions to the letter, the people meet before the mountain. Moses stands near but not on the mountain. “Blessed be the people the Lord has chosen for His own. Meditate today on His deliverance of this nation from the hand of Egypt as you go about your tasks. Watch over your hearts today and keep Him as your center.”
After this blessing the people returned to their daily tasks. There seemed to be fewer squabbles over little things this day.
The second morning the people came and assembled before the mountain. “May the Lord continue in His steadfast love for the people He has called to be His own. Today, turn your hearts to the blessings He has provided for His chosen people as they followed where He led them. This is also to be a day of purification through washing so you will be ready to stand before Him clean, inside and out, when morning arrives.”
The people made sure to wash their clothes that day and also bathe. They were taking no chances of angering the Lord. They felt truly honored to be called His people!
The third morning dawns and the people are preparing to meet at the mountain once again. Today their whole number shines like new. There is not a hair out of place or a dirty face among them. They are anxious to hear the Lord’s voice.
As they prepare to go to the mountain, the see that it is covered in a thick cloud. A LOUD blast sounds from the mountain. It sounds like a trumpet. The people are physically prepared to meet with the Lord but these sights and sounds have them trembling in fear.
Moses calls to the people. “Do not be afraid. The Lord is calling to His people to come and meet Him.”
The people begin falling into place near the base of the mountain. The smoke and trumpet’s sound have continued during their assembly. The mountain is now covered with smoke, fire, an ever building sound of a trumpet and quaking. It is as if the mountain itself is alive!
When the whole group had finally assembled before the mountain, Moses spoke directly to it. “We are here Lord. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening!”
Thunder crashed instantly in response to Moses’ words. Then the voice of the Lord came from the thunder. “Moses, come up to me, on the mountain.”
Moses obeyed immediately. The people stayed rooted to their spots out of awe, fear and curiosity.
Moses climbs further up the mountain but not to the top. The Lord told him to “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish” (verse 21).
“You already warned them Lord. They are not about to go against You command.”
“Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them” (verse 22).
“They won’t come up here either Lord for they too are following Your commands. They do NOT want to die! You Yourself warned us of this.”
“Yes. I did. ‘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” (verse 24).
Moses turns and descended the mountain again. The people exactly as he had left them. He then points to Aaron. “The Lord has said for you, Aaron, to come back up the mountain with me. The rest of you are to obey His orders to not even touch the mountain.”
Aaron steps forward and smooths his tunic and hair. He thinks to himself, “Since the Lord has called me, I will be safe.” He moves to where Moses is waiting then glances up higher on the mountain.
Moses takes Aaron’s elbow and says, “Are you ready brother? The Lord awaits.”
“As ready as I’ll ever be” is Aaron’s reply.
Moses smiles and the two men make their way up the mountain to the spot Moses has been sharing with the Lord. The people waited below as the two men who had been the Lord’s voice to Pharaoh went to meet with Him.
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Father God, that must have been an awe inspiring sight!!! Also one that would strike terror into the hearts of anyone, especially someone who didn’t know what was going on. Did the people actually hear You speak words or were those words directed only at Moses? How long did the people stay rooted to their spots? Did Moses wish he could stay up there with You forever? I have a feeling I would have wanted to.
This firsthand experience with You was something that no other generation as a whole would get. Why didn’t it cement their faith in You? Why didn’t it carry them through the valleys of life? Why couldn’t they recall that experience later on to buoy them in times of doubt? I have no answers for that.
I am SO thrilled when I recall special times we have shared together. Those moments definitely strengthen my faith in You! Those memories are what I call on in times of trouble. Thank You for each of them! I want to LIVE the promise that Israel made to You in that place. I want to follow wherever You lead, listen to Your instructions, and honor Your covenant at all times. Please help me Lord to walk in Your ways all my days. And thank You in advance for ALL the times You will redirect me back onto Your path and restore my to right relationship with You the rest of the way home.