4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
Israel, then, left Egypt with no illusions as to the moral implications of their calling. God had clearly announced His object in redeeming them-
"I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God" (Exod. 6 : 7).
The final step was now to secure their assent to that purpose with all its implicit demands upon them for obedience total and absolute.
They were brought to Sinai for the purpose. Moses ascended the holy mount. First of all God instructed him to remind them of the facts - the historical proof in the Exodus that He was faithful.*
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.
THE TWELVE TRIBES CONSTITUTE THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
The Israelites being born into national existence under Moses as a ruler and deliverer, he led them from the Red Sea to the foot of Mount Sinai to meet with God. On their arrival there, the Lord commanded Moses to say to them,
"Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians; 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, and ye shall be UNTO ME a kingdom of priests and a holy nation"
This was an offer on the part of God to become their King, predicated upon what He had done for them. If they closed in with the proposal, they would henceforth be a kingdom. Hitherto they had been a crowd of slaves subject to the will of the kings of Egypt. But He proposed to organize them; to give thein a constitution, religion, and laws; to appoint them a government; to exalt them by his instructions to the freedom, independence, and moral excellence, which are attainable only by the influence of divine truth; to make them the envy and admiration of surrounding nations: to make them, in short, his kingdom, and his beloved nation.
This was a proposal rich with blessings. All God would require of them was obedience, and adhesion to the covenant He had made with their fathers. The terms of the compact were highly eligible. No nation had received such a liberal and honourable proposal before, or since. Would they accept it, and abide by it? Moses was sent to see.
Having arrived at the encampment, he convened the elders of the people, and laid the proposition before them. Having consulted the nation, they returned answer to Moses, saying,
"All that the Lord hath spoken we will do."
Upon this, Moses returned the words of the people to the Lord. In this transaction a formal agreement was entered into between Israel and the Lord. In the word they sent back by Moses, they accepted the Lord as their King, and became his subjects, or
"the children of his kingdom."
The relation of God to the tribes as their king is undoubted; for when they demanded a visible king like other nations, the Lord told Samuel that they had not rejected him but the Lord himself, whose representative among them he was. By this political compact, Abraham's natural seed became "THE KINGDOM OF GOD." It was the first, and the only kingdom, He has ever had among the sons of men.
He will yet have other kingdoms. All the kingdoms of the world will be come his; and will yet acknowledge the king He has provided to rule over them (Rev.11:15). But even then, the kingdom founded at the beginning of the ages, the kingdom of Israel, will be his
"peculiar treasure above them all."
If, then, we would understand "the things of the kingdom of God," we must never lose sight of Israel in connection with the kingdom. Indeed, without them there is no kingdom of God; and to affirm the contrary is to believe in a kingdom over which there is no nation to rule!
Elpis Israel 2.4.
8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that Yahweh hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto Yahweh.
They now constituted the One Body of Moses, and the Firstborn Son of Yahweh (Exod. 4:22; Zech. 3:2; Jude 9): and when they arrived at Sinai, fifty days after the institution of the Passover, they became the kingdom of the Deity (Exod. 19:5,6,8). These events signalize the katabole tou kosmou, or '"foundation of the world;" to which frequent reference is made in the New Testament, in connection with the prepositions pro, before, and apo, from, since, etc. (Matt. 25:34; 13:35; Luke 11:50; Jhn. 17:24).
9 And Yahweh 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 Yahweh.
This wonder of wonders was not to be performed merely as a prodigy, or to gratify the curiosity of the people; it was to be done with a very distinct object in view; it was to place the divine authority of Moses beyond all cavil or doubt....
Apart from the display which was about to be made in the presence of the whole nation, it might have been whispered, by the seditious in the camp, that the messages Moses brought from the summit of Sinai were pretended messages; that he saw nothing, and heard nothing, when he went up, but concocted the messages himself, and went to the top of the mount merely to give colour of divine authority to what he had to say.
Such a view, once whispered, would be quickly caught up, and sent round, and loom large in the eyes of subsequent generations of unbelievers as such things generally do, with the result of destroying the authority of Moses for ever.
Any spiritual rot like this was effectually prevented by what was about to be done. The worst that could happen afterwards (and that did happen) was disobedience to the Law of Moses: the cry could not be, and was never raised that God had not spoken by Moses. Israel in all their generations have been of the mind expressed by the Pharisees when disparaging the claims of Jesus:
"We know that God spake unto Moses" (John 9: 29).
It will not appear marvellous that such profound and ineradicable conviction should have been produced in the heart of Israel when we consider the means adopted to produce it.
VISIBLE HAND OF GOD
10 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,
Preparation was then made for the formal ratification of the Covenant on a national basis. Symbolism entered largely into this. Uncleanness on the part of the people was assumed (that is, unworthiness by them to appear in the presence of God was regarded as axiomatic), so they were first instructed to purify themselves in preparation (verses 10-11).*
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:
As a further reminder that they were actually still estranged from God, despite all that He had of late done for them, a fence had to be built around the mount to keep them from God when He came down upon it.*
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.
So scrupulously were they to avoid touching the mount that, if they were compelled to kill any straying animal or disobedient person who did so, they were to avoid even indirect contact with it by using stones or darts to inflict death upon the animal or individual concerned (verses 12-13).
Truly they were as yet far from God !*
*Law and Grace Ch 4
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.
Lightning is brilliance and power and rapidity of motion: undeviating, irresistible. Lightning, the most stupendous and awesome of all the manifestations of the powers of nature, travels at the speed of light and electricity: 186,000 miles per second-the maximum speed in the universe.
Electricity is the most elementary form of the manifestations of the Spirit of Elohim. All matter and all energy are forms of electricity. This - in striking confirmation of the Scriptures - is one of the most significant and stupendous facts that man in his little scratchings of nature, has stumbled upon.
The atom bomb is the result of disturbing the electrical composition of the basic elements. A simple handful of common dust is in reality a vast storehouse of locked-in and incalculable power. In light, and lightning, and electricity, we are on the borders of the Spirit-world.
Bro Growcott - The living Creatures and the bow
17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with Elohim; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.
Here in the rock solitudes of the wilderness and under the shadow of the frowning heights of Sinai, they encamp at the end of what may be termed the first act in the national drama.
Miraculously delivered at the end of about a century of oppression, they are in the best circumstances in which a multitude could be placed for receiving that communication and impress of divine law for which it was the object of all these experiences to prepare them.
Every measure was now adopted which was calculated to turn the situation to the best possible use for the object in view. First, Moses, the mediator or intermediary in the whole operation, is called to the top of the mount to receive a message for the mustered multitude.
Nothing more appropriate could be conceived. God could have spoken to Moses in the presence of the whole congregation, or He could have spoken direct to the whole congregation, as He did presently for a particular purpose, but there were reasons against both of these modes at this moment.
A message to Moses in their hearing would have been lacking in the dignity and impressiveness that always accompany well-timed reserve, and there could not indeed in that case have been any object in limiting the communication to Moses.
A message direct to themselves was out of the question on many grounds. They were an assembly of unenlightened, faithless and rebellious men, though for the moment in the interested and grateful mood that is produced in the least intelligent of men by the conferring of a great benefit. They were not such as it was possible that God could have any direct dealings with.
With Moses, it was different: he was "faithful in all his house", as God Himself testified a short time afterwards, adding,
"With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold" (Num. 12:7-8).
It was therefore beautiful and appropriate that the first thing done on the completion of their journey from Egypt should be to call Moses to the solemn privacy of the top of Sinai.
Law of Moses Ch 2
23 And Moses said unto Yahweh, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.
Moses received these instructions when he was in the Mount of Sinai (JebeI Museh) for 40 days and nights (Ex.24.18). This was the mount of judgment Heb.l2, Ex.19.l6-19) in contrast to Mount Zion -.the mount of God's mercy for the Israelitish household. Here is the judgment seat of Christ - in the mountain fastnesses of Sinai.
Here the saints are assembled as Israel of old, brought out of the darkness of Egypt of the world, to give account, the dross purged out. Then follows the glorious ascent to the Holy, through the wilderness of Paran, Seir, Bozrah, shining forth as the sun with his beams (Deut.33, Pslm.68, Hbk.3), a glorious mighty throng,
"fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners"
led by the Commander of chieftans, a company of warrior priests, to dispel the Dark ages and fill the earth with light.
The Apocalyptic Messenger