Exodus 19

1 In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that same day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 When they had departed from Rephidim, and had come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mountain. 3 Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “This is what you shall tell the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from amongst all peoples; for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” 7 Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 All the people answered together, and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. 9 The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.” Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. 10 The LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, 11 and be ready against the third day; for on the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people on Mount Sinai. 12 You shall set bounds to the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful that you don’t go up onto the mountain, or touch its border. Whoever touches the mountain shall be surely put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether it is animal or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15 He said to the people, “Be ready by the third day. Don’t have sexual relations with a woman.” 16 On the third day, when it was morning, there was thunder and lightning, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud trumpet; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lower part of the mountain. 18 All of Mount Sinai smoked, because the LORD descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. The LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 The LORD said to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 Let the priests also, who come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break out on them.” 23 Moses said to the LORD, “The people can’t come up to Mount Sinai, for you warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain, and sanctify it.’” 24 The LORD said to him, “Go down! You shall bring Aaron up with you, but don’t let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people, and told them.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–8

Moses was called up the mountain, and was employed as the messenger of this covenant. The Maker and first Mover of the covenant, is God himself. This blessed charter was granted out of God’s own free grace. The covenant here mentioned was the national covenant, by which the Israelites were a people under the government of Jehovah. It was a type of the new covenant made with true believers in Christ Jesus; but, like other types, it was only a shadow of good things to come. As a nation they broke this covenant; therefore the Lord declared that he would make a new covenant with Israel, writing his law, not upon tables of stone, but in their hearts, Jer 31:33; Heb 8:7–10. The covenant spoken of in these places as ready to vanish away, is the national covenant with Israel, which they forfeited by their sins. Unless we carefully attend to this, we shall fall into mistakes while reading the Old Testament. We must not suppose that the nation of the Jews were under the covenant of works, which knows nothing of repentance, faith in a Mediator, forgiveness of sins, or grace; nor yet that the whole nation of Israel bore the character, and possessed the privileges of true believers, as being actually sharers in the covenant of grace. They were all under a dispensation of mercy; they had outward privileges and advantages for salvation; but, like professing Christians, most rested therein, and went no further. Israel consented to the conditions. They answered as one man, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. Oh that there had been such a heart in them! Moses, as a mediator, returned the words of the people to God. Thus Christ, the Mediator, as a Prophet, reveals God’s will to us, his precepts and promises; and then, as a Priest, offers up to God our spiritual sacrifices, not only of prayer and praise, but of devout affections, and pious resolutions, the work of his own Spirit in us.

Verses 9–15

The solemn manner in which the law was delivered, was to impress the people with a right sense of the Divine majesty. Also to convince them of their own guilt, and to show that they could not stand in judgment before God by their own obedience. In the law, the sinner discovers what he ought to be, what he is, and what he wants. There he learns the nature, necessity, and glory of redemption, and of being made holy. Having been taught to flee to Christ, and to love him, the law is the rule of his obedience and faith.

Verses 16–25

Never was there such a sermon preached, before or since, as this which was preached to the church in the wilderness. It might be supposed that the terrors would have checked presumption and curiosity in the people; but the hard heart of an unawakened sinner can trifle with the most terrible threatenings and judgments. In drawing near to God, we must never forget his holiness and greatness, nor our own meanness and pollution. We cannot stand in judgment before him according to his righteous law. The convinced transgressor asks, What must I do to be saved? and he hears the voice, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. The Holy Ghost, who made the law to convince of sin, now takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to us. In the gospel we read, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Through him we are justified from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses. But the Divine law is binding as a rule of life. The Son of God came down from heaven, and suffered poverty, shame, agony, and death, not only to redeem us from its curse, but to bind us more closely to keep its commands.

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