What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 11)

To their newly stated national definition, thirsty, hungry, and temperamental Israel was instantly resolute in her response: “All that Adonai has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8). And with that resounding, unalterable voice of conviction and commitment, the people consecrated and washed themselves, complied with the instructions not to touch or approach the mountain, and quietly awaited further instructions from their God.

Suddenly, on the third day after they had come to the mountain, the sky cracked open, streaming forth bolts of blinding lightning and bowling downward the deafening roars of thunder. The people trembled uncontrollably throughout the camp as they watched the dark, thick cloud settle upon the mountain—hearing also the alarming, unsettling sound of the ram’s horn (19:16). Engulfed in smoke, the mountain shook violently (19:18), as the shout of the horn kept growing louder and stronger. And as Adonai descended upon the mountain in a blaze of fire, Moses spoke to the God of Israel—the God of Commandments—who answered in the people’s ears with thunderous, bellowing blasts (19:19).

The Voice identified Himself as Israel’s powerful deliverer (20:2), commanding that they must never force Him to compete with another object of worship—that His love for Israel was a jealous one, and He must not be replaced by “images” of their own making (20:3-6). He commanded them to do nothing that would ever make His reputation empty and void (20:7), and that they must remember and rest in Him as the world’s Creator through their special setting-apart of every seventh day (20:8-11). He required them to honor their parents (20:12), and never to murder (20:13); He prohibited them from ever committing adultery (20:14), or stealing (20:15), or answering deceptively against another person (20:16). And He forbade them from desiring things for themselves that already belonged to someone else (20:17). In these ten glorious “words,” God established His instructions for Israel—a covenant of “Torah”—concerning how they must behave toward and regarding their God, and how they must act toward and regarding one another. To be that holy, priestly mediator that would help reconcile the nations back to their Creator, Israel needed to love the one true God—with all their heart, all their soul, all their might and all their understanding—and to love one another as themselves (De. 6:7, Lev. 19:18, Mt. 22:37-40). Love like this would be the fullness of God’s instructions (Ro. 13:10), bringing eternal life to those who do it (Luke 10:25-28). But could they?

When the people saw and heard all this, they moved and stood far off from the base of the mountain, crying out to Moses, “Do not let God speak to us, so that we will not die” (Exodus 20:19). But Moses, turning toward the people to reassure them, explained that God was not so concerned about their bodily demise as something else even more deadly. “Fear not, for God has come in order to test you, and that the fear of Him may be before your faces, so that you will not sin” (20:20). Then Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was in order to receive more instructions for His chosen people. God laid out to Moses His statutes and guidance for making a sin-resistant, global mediator out of Israel. As for His part, God promised to be Israel’s champion and bring them victoriously into the promised Land. When Moses returned and relayed God’s commands to the people, twice more, with unwavering certitude, “all the people answered with one voice, and said, ‘All the words which Adonai has spoken we will do… and obey’” (24:3,7). Then Moses wrote everything down in the Book of the Covenant (24:4-7), built an altar, offered sacrifices to God, and enacted the covenant between the people and their God with blood (Exodus 24:8).

“Look! the blood of the [covenant] which Adonai has made with you, concerning all these things.” (Ex. 24:8)

God then called Moses back up to the mountain where He would give him the two stone tablets of the testimony—written by His own finger—and the elaborate instructions and patterns for what was to be the magnificent and glorious earthly representation of His heavenly Tent of Meeting. He then selected from among His holy nation of mediators a single, chosen tribe to internally mediate between Himself and Israel. A reflection and pattern of Israel’s national purpose to the world, God would give Moses’ tribe no land inheritance, but instead the responsibility of moving and maintaining the Tent of Meeting. And from that tribe, He established the line of Moses’ brother as Israel’s set-apart, priestly intercessors. In this way—by the creation of the Tent, the setting apart of Moses’ kin, and the establishment of the priesthood—the God of Commandments would have a holy, worthy, sacred place to “dwell among the sons of Yis’rael, and… be their God” (29:45).

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Before Moses departed from the mountain, God also included details concerning the daily sacrifices, the atonement for sin, and the seventh day as a sign of God’s holiness. Finally, God presented Israel’s law-giver with the testimony’s tablets of stone. He was all but ready to head down the mountain to deliver God’s instructions to His faithful and obedient people…

But Moses had been gone just a little too long.

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