Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, June 24, 2012

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The children of Israel now come to Mt. Horeb where preparations are made for receiving the Ten Commandments. Much speculation has taken place on the location of Mt. Horeb, but we do not know for certain. Sure confirmation is only possible with the discovery of a text indicating that this was the place and that has never been found. Perhaps God, in his desire not to make it an idolatrous place of worship and veneration, obscured its location for future generations. Exodus does state that the Israelites came into “the wilderness of Sinai” which was “the desert of Sinai” where they pitched camp before “Mount Sinai.” Recent scholarship, based on these texts and the itinerary described in Exodus suggest the location to be in the Sinai Peninsula and not in Saudi Arabia as popularly claimed. Here God comes to Moses and asks him to remind the children of Israel again after three months how He “bore them on eagles wings” and brought them to himself.

God here initiates a covenant with His people. God, in his love, chooses or elects Israel in an act of gracious initiative, just as in previous covenant made with the patriarchs. God had already redeemed Israel from Egypt and now his covenant at Sinai becomes a continuation of that act of redemption. There are conditions for this covenant relationship. “Now, therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant then you will be a peculiar treasure unto me” (19:5). Israel had up to this point experienced God’s special acts of deliverance. Would Israel now choose to go it alone, or would they choose to be obedient to God and follow Him wherever He led? How is it with us today; do we give God lip service as His people, but then complain and try to go about our lives without Him? Or will we respond like Israel, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (19:8)? It was God’s desire at Sinai and today to have the deepest, most profound, and intimate relationship with His created people.


Michael Hasel

Southern Adventist University