Sunday, April 12, 2009

Before Sinai

3. Before Sinai (Exodus 19 to 40, and Leviticus)

During the year spent before sinai we have four leading events, as follows:

(1) The Decalogue given

After the patriarchal covenant had been ratified between Jehovah and Israel, the Lord spoke unto the assembly in the mountin the midst of the fire and the cloud and of the thick darkness, with a great voice, setting forth the Ten Words of the Law. Later, Jehovah wrote these words on tables of stone and sent them to the people by the hand of Moses.

(2) The golden calf destroyed

While Moses was in the mount in solemn conclave with Jehovah, the people, impatient of the long delay and desirous of some visible symbol of Jehovah, prevailed upon Aaron to make a golden calf similar to the images they had often seen in Egypt. Returning from the mount, Moses found the people in the act of worshiping before this image. With flaming indignation he burned the image with fire, and strewing the ashes on a neighboring stream, he compelled the people to drink its waters.

(3) The Tabernacle built

While in the holy mount, Moses received from the Lord instructions and directions for the building of a Tabernacle, which should be the center of worship for Israel. All the people were invited to make contributions; the men brought gold and silver and hewed down acacia trees, while the women brought the finest of their spinning and weaving. Thus was produced a portable structure of rare fineness, which for hundreds of years continued to be the worshipping and rallying place for God's people.

(4) The Levitical Laws given

During the remaining months of the year at Sinai there was given through Moses an elaborate system of laws, touching the preisthood, the sacrifices and offerings, the holy seasons, the sacred feasts, together with all manner of moral and civil laws.

Out of Egypt

2. Out of Egypt (Exodus 5 to 18)

In setting forth this interesting bit of Israel's history, we may consider:

(1) The plagues
As Pharaoh, by his terrible oppressions, made Israel willing to go out of Egypt, so God, by his fearful visitations, made Pharaoh willing to let Israel go. Ten dreadful plagues, the last resulting in the death of the firstborn throughout the land, so crushed and humbled the haughty Egyptians that they were glad to send the people forth from their land. These plagues were: (1) water turned into blood, (2) frogs, (3) lice, (4) flies, (5) murrain of beasts, (6) boils upon men and beasts, (7) hail, (8) locusts, (9) darkness, (10) death of the firstborn.

(2) The departure

Extensive preparations must have been made for the removal of so great a multitude with their families and their possessions. The eight or ten months during which Moses was contending with Pharaoh offered opportunity for this needed preparation. Laden with stores of jewelry, apparel and varied wealth, the chose people marched out of Egypt.

(3) The journey to Sinai

The land of Canaan lay a little more than a hundred miles from Goshen, along the ancient caravan route, and could have been reached in a fortnight. But its inhabitants were fierce and warlike, and its cities were walled fortresses. Enervated by long slavery, Israel was wholly unprepared to meet such foes. Hence, God directed their course southeastward, and after sixty days of marching, the people entered the open plain before Mount Sinai.

(4) Miracles of the journey

This journey was marked by signs and signal deliverances. Notable among these were: (a) the pillar of cloud shielding by day and of fire lighting by night; (b) the waters of the Red Sea parted; (c) the bitter waters of Marah sweetened; (d) manna given daily; (e) water from the smitten rock.