Lesson Info:

Lesson 4 Fall Quarter
Lesson Text:  Exodus 19:16-25
Golden Text:  Exodus 19:17

Listen to Today’s Lesson


This week’s lesson is the first lesson in the second unit of lessons that is titled:  Obedience in Worship.  As we saw with Moses in the first lesson of this quarter, there is most certainly a right and a wrong way to appear before the Lord.  This is a lesson that we learn very early on in scripture in the comparisons of how Cain and Abel appeared before God (Gen. 4:1-15).  When we appear before the Lord, we are to do so with honor and respect.

The Sovereign Lord

Our lesson opens today with us picking up with scripture after the children of Israel had committed themselves to obeying the voice of God and keeping His covenant.  On the morning of the third day, there were thunderings and lightnings along with a thick cloud on the mountain (v.16).  The mountain being Horeb – Mount Sinai.

A humbling display of the Lord’s power

As you would imagine, all the people who were in the camp were trembling – meaning they were fearful and panicking about the situation.  If you try to picture this scene in your head, I imagine that all of us would have been afraid to move in that moment!  The Lord, however, was making His presence be known to the children of Israel.

We know this to have been the case because earlier in this chapter, the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever (Ex. 19:9).”  So God was ready to speak with the children of Israel as He expressed He would do when He spoke with Moses earlier in this chapter.  As the Lord had commanded, Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with the Lord at the base of Mount Sinai (v.17).

The mountain, we are told, was completely covered in smoke!  Scripture tells us that the mountain was covered in smoke because the Lord had descended upon the mountain in fire; the mountain even quaked at the presence of the Lord (v.18).  This is an event that is very similar to when the Lord appeared on the mountain before the elders and when Moses went further up into the mountain to meet with God (Ex. 24:9-18).

This was a display of the Lord’s mighty power before the people.  When we read about these moments in scripture, I try to put myself into the shoes of those who witnessed these things.  Like them, I would have been trembling at this sight!  I recall how Isaiah, when he had the vision of standing in God’s temple, said that he was undone at the sight (Is. 6:1-5).  All of us would have likely been trembling at this sight as it would have been a very humbling position to be in.

Warned to be obedient

After the blast of the trumpet, Moses spoke and the Lord called for him to go on top of the mountain (v.20).  This was essentially one of the first trips that Moses made up the mountain where he entered into the cloud of the Lord.  I have spoken about this cloud in the past, and this cloud is representative of God’s glory, which is also known as the shekinah cloud.

At the top of the mountain, the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish (v.21).”  As we have seen in scripture before, nobody can gaze upon the true essence of God without dying (Ex. 33:18-20).  So, essentially, this was a warning to the people to remain obedient to the guidelines that had been set for them.

What were those guidelines?  Well, earlier in this chapter, the Lord commanded that boundaries be set for the people all around.  The people were commanded not to go up to the mountain or touch its bases.  Scripture said that whoever touched the mountain would be put to death (Ex. 19:12).

So, the people could not let their curiosity get the best of them!  Our curiosity is what often leads us to sin which is why the Lord desired for Moses to warn the people to remain obedient.  If anybody happened to try to gaze at the Lord, breaking that boundary, it would have ended in an unnecessary death.

Remembering to be obedient

With that info at hand, the next verse of our lesson is a very interesting one as the Lord called for the priest to come near to the Lord and consecrate themselves (v.22).  There was a boundary that the people were not supposed to cross and you better believe that God knew His own commandment.  So, why did God request the priest to come near to Him?

Moses took the Lord calling for the priest to come near to Him as a call for them to come upon the mountain.  So Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it (v.23).’”

So, I would say that it was certainly a good thing that Moses remembered what God had commanded of him and the people.  Now, I don’t believe for one second that the Lord desired for the priest to come up the mountain.  Was this a test then?  God does not test us to do wickedness nor is He a forgetful God.

I suggest that the Lord did want the priest to draw near to Him but I believe He wanted them to do so spiritually and not physically going up the mountain.  I suggest this to be the case because we see that the Lord called for their priest to be consecrated – to be sanctified.  There was a holy work they would do and they needed to be sanctified for that work.

On an even more interesting thought about this, I would ask, who exactly were these priests?  At this point in time, Aaron and his sons had not yet been consecrated as priest as that happened later (Ex. 28:1-3).  So, who were these priests?  Maybe they were some of the elders who would later go up part-way into the mountain with Moses, Aaron, and his sons.

Respect God’s boundary

Our lesson ends with the Lord telling Moses to go back down the mountain and to not let the priests or the people break the boundary.  There is a certain boundary that nobody should cross when it comes to the Lord; if we cross that boundary, there is no coming back as we will surely die, spiritually.

In the past I have spoken about this sin – the unpardonable sin – for which there is no return.  The unpardonable sin is to blaspheme the Spirit.  Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come (Matt. 12:31-32).

”Do not speak against the work of the Lord.  When you speak against the work of the Lord and genuinely believe in the word you speak against Him, you have crossed a line from which there is no return.  You and I, as genuine believers, should warn people as often as we can to not blaspheme the Spirit and live in such blasphemy.  Many people are living in this blasphemy today and sadly, they will perish.

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