Exodus 19 begins God’s work of communicating with the people in a more direct and intimate way. Moses went up to meet God on the mountain. “The Lord called to him” and gave him some things to remind the people. Moses was to tell them “you yourselves have seen what I did….how I bore you on eagles’ wings….brought you to myself”. Let’s face it, God has been pretty powerful in lots of ways for these people to see. Unless they were in a coma they couldn’t have missed what He had done.
Then comes the big word: “if”. God gives them two things they need to do if they want to have a relationship with Him. “You will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant”. Seems simple enough given the way God has blessed them. He ends his requirements with the result. This truly was an if/then statement from God to His people. If you obey and keep the covenant, then: ”you shall be my treasured possession….you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. That seems like quite a deal to me. Obey and become the center of God’s love. That deal is still on the table for you and me today. Same great offer from the very same God. The question is – will you choose to obey?
Moses goes to the people with God’s command and offer. The response was “All that the Lord has spoken we will do”. Of course we all know that is not exactly how it played out in the real world. But they did at least understand what God wanted for their lives. God decides to become more intimate with the people and to come to them in a dark cloud. Of course they can’t get close to Him or they will perish, so Moses is charged with informing and providing some means of keeping them back from God and His presence. We sometimes forget that while God loves us and is our friend, He also is mighty and powerful and to be feared. We also cannot ignore God’s presence and must treat Him with due respect.
Moses was to be sure that the people “Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it”. Can you imagine that today? Moses tells the people that God is going to be there to talk with them but they can’t get too close or they will die. Would you go and touch the mountain? We often tend to want to do things our way and ignore what we have been told not to do. They also were told to be clean which included “do not go near a woman”. God had some expectations for people to come into His presence. He descends in a fire with lots of smoke and calls Moses and Aaron to come up the mountain to meet with Him. What a picture if we close our eyes and ponder. God desires to be with His people. He wants to be with you and me as well!