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19:1-24:18 MAKING OF THE COVENANT
Israel at Mount Sinai (19:1-25)
The arrival of the people at Mount Sinai marked the fulfilment of the promise God made to Moses on the occasion of the burning bush (see 3:12). The journey from Egypt took three months and was accomplished solely by God’s power and care. Long before the nation of Israel existed, God chose it to be his people and he confirmed this choice in a covenant made with Abraham. He then guided the history of Abraham’s descendants to bring his covenant promises to fulfilment (see Genesis 12:2; Genesis 15:7-21; Exodus 2:24; Exodus 4:22; Exodus 6:6-8; Exodus 15:13). (For the meaning of ‘covenant’ see note on Genesis 9:8-17.) The blessings of this covenant meant that the people of Israel were to belong to God and, as priests, worship and serve him. As God’s chosen people, Israel was to represent him to the nations of the world (19:1-6).
Although the covenant was established solely by God’s grace, the covenant’s central blessing of communion with God could become a reality only as the people were holy in life and devoted to him; and this could be so only as they understood God’s requirements and were obedient to them. The people acknowledged this and solemnly pledged themselves to carry out God’s commands. Thus, although the covenant originated in divine grace and was not conditional upon human works (see Galatians 3:17-18), the people were still required to keep their part of the covenant if they were to enjoy its blessings (7-9).
Before receiving the detailed requirements of the covenant, the people were reminded of the holiness of the God who initiated the covenant. So holy was he that the people had to carry out symbolic acts of cleansing over the next two days before they were allowed even to look on the mountain while God was speaking there with Moses. A boundary was drawn around the mountain to emphasize the distance between this holy God and his sinful people (10-15). The people were then given a brief view of the awesome power of the one to whom they had submitted themselves. He was not be treated lightly. Any, except those specially invited, who crossed the boundary around the mountain, whether out of idle curiosity or misguided zeal, would be struck with certain death (16-25).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Exodus 19". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent