Timeless Commandments (Exodus 19-20)

Today’s Bible reading and devotional is Exodus 19-20.

Three months from their exodus out of Egypt, Moses and the children of Israel arrive at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) where the LORD directs His servant to instruct the people to hear His Word and keep His covenant.  Confirming His covenant with the people, the LORD promised Israel would be “a peculiar treasure…above all people” (19:5-6).

Calling “for the elders of the people”, Moses rehearsed all the LORD had commanded him (19:7) and the people affirmed they would keep the LORD’s covenant (19:8).  In preparation for establishing His covenant with Israel, the LORD directed Moses to “sanctify” the people and command they wash their clothes (19:9-15).

On the third day, the LORD made Himself known to the people by “thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud” (19:16) and the LORD “descended upon it [the mount]in fire: and the smoke ascended” (19:18) and the “trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder” (19:19).  Witnessing the power and majesty of the LORD, “all the people that was in the camp trembled” (19:16b).

Out of the thunder, lighting, sound of the trumpet, and the fire and smoke the LORD introduced Himself saying, “I am the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] thy God [Elohim], which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”(Exodus 20:2).

As part of His covenant, the LORD set forth Ten Commandments that Israel was to hear, heed and obey (20:1-17).  For the sake of brevity, I will list the Commandments of God’s covenant with Israel.

Exodus 20:3-17 – “3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain…8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy… 12  Honour thy father and thy mother…13  Thou shalt not kill. 14  Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15  Thou shalt not steal. 16  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17  Thou shalt not covet…”

Exodus 20:22-26 instructs the people regarding worship (20:22-23), the construction and sanctity of altars (Exodus 20:24-25), and states a principle of modesty that dictated low altars as opposed to the “high altars”:  “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon”  (Exodus 20:26).

Contrary to the casual “come as you are” brashness of the majority of 21stcentury churches, it may come as a surprise to some believers that the LORD not only instructed His people regarding sincere and holy worship, but also went to lengths in dictating their “nakedness” not become a distraction for those who worship the LORD (Exodus 20:26).

1 Peter 3:3-4 – “3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorningof plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it bethe hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornamentof a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith