1. ARRIVING AT SINAI
a. How long after they had left Egypt did the Israelites come to Mount Sinai? Exodus 19:1, 2. What revelation was God about to make to them?
“On every hand vast, rugged heights seemed in their solitary grandeur to speak of eternal endurance and majesty. Here the mind was impressed with solemnity and awe. Man was made to feel his ignorance and weakness in the presence of Him who ‘weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.’ Isaiah 40:12. Here Israel was to receive the most wonderful revelation ever made by God to men. Here the Lord had gathered His people that He might impress upon them the sacredness of His requirements by declaring with His own voice His holy law. Great and radical changes were to be wrought in them; for the degrading influences of servitude and a long-continued association with idolatry had left their mark upon habits and character. God was working to lift them to a higher moral level by giving them a knowledge of Himself.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 302.
b. What beautiful words did God speak to Moses in the Mount, sharing His desire for the Israelites as well as His people in all ages? Exodus 19:3–6.
2. PREPARING TO MEET GOD
a. After Moses shared with the people what God had spoken to him, how did the people respond? Exodus 19:7–9.
“Moses returned to the camp, and having summoned the elders of Israel, he repeated to them the divine message. Their answer was, ‘All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.’ Thus they entered into a solemn covenant with God, pledging themselves to accept Him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of His authority.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 303.
“This is the pledge that God’s people are to make in these last days. Their acceptance with God depends on a faithful fulfilment of the terms of their agreement with Him. God includes in His covenant all who will obey Him.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1103.
b. What preparation was required of the people in order to appear in God’s presence when He presented His law? Exodus 19:10–15. What care should we take before we appear in the presence of God at church?
“That great and mighty God who created the beautiful Eden and everything lovely in it is a God of order, and He wants order and cleanliness with His people. . . .
“There was to be nothing slack and untidy about those who appeared before Him when they came into His holy presence. And why was this? What was the object of all this carefulness? Was it merely to recommend the people to God? Was it merely to gain His approbation? The reason that was given me was this, that a right impression might be made upon the people. If those who ministered in sacred office should fail to manifest care, and reverence for God, in their apparel and their deportment, the people would lose their awe and their reverence for God and His sacred service. If the priests showed great reverence for God by being very careful and very particular as they came into His presence, it gave the people an exalted idea of God and His requirements. It showed them that God was holy, that His work was sacred, and that everything in connection with His work must be holy; that it must be free from everything like impurity and uncleanness; and that all defilement must be put away from those who approach nigh to God.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 611, 612.
3. IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
a. Describe the majesty and solemnity of the scene when God descended from heaven to speak to His people. Exodus 19:16–20; Deuteronomy 33:2, 3.
“On the morning of the third day, as the eyes of all the people were turned toward the mount, its summit was covered with a thick cloud, which grew more black and dense, sweeping downward until the entire mountain was wrapped in darkness and awful mystery. Then a sound as of a trumpet was heard, summoning the people to meet with God; and Moses led them forth to the base of the mountain. From the thick darkness flashed vivid lightnings, while peals of thunder echoed and re-echoed among the surrounding heights. . . .
“And now the thunders ceased; the trumpet was no longer heard; the earth was still. There was a period of solemn silence, and then the voice of God was heard. Speaking out of the thick darkness that enshrouded Him, as He stood upon the mount, surrounded by a retinue of angels, the Lord made known His law.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 304.
“By proclaiming the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel with His own voice, God demonstrated their importance. In awful grandeur He made known His majesty and authority as Ruler of the world. This He did to impress the people with the sacredness of His law and the importance of obeying it.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 198.
b. When Moses was again called to the top of the mountain, what did the Lord say to him? Exodus 19:21–25.
“When the divine Presence was manifested upon Sinai, the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire in the sight of all Israel.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 339.
“God is a being of infinite love and compassion, but He also declares Himself to be a ‘consuming fire, even a jealous God.’ ”—The Review and Herald, August 14, 1900.
“To sin, wherever found, ‘our God is a consuming fire.’ Hebrews 12:29. In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 107.
4. THE LAW OF LOVE
a. Who spoke the law on Mount Sinai? What did He later do with the law? Deuteronomy 5:4, 5; 9:10.
“The law, which is the transcript of His character, no one need fail to understand. The words written by the finger of God on tables of stone so perfectly reveal His will concerning His people that none need make any mistake.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 225.
b. What is the basic principle behind the law? Matthew 22:37–39.
“The ten commandments, Thou shalt, and Thou shalt not, are ten promises, assured to us if we render obedience to the law governing the universe. ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ Here is the sum and substance of the law of God. The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined.
“The ten holy precepts spoken by Christ upon Sinai’s mount were the revelation of the character of God, and made known to the world the fact that He had jurisdiction over the whole human heritage. That law of ten precepts of the greatest love that can be presented to man is the voice of God from heaven speaking to the soul in promise, ‘This do, and you will not come under the dominion and control of Satan.’ There is not a negative in that law, although it may appear thus. It is DO, and Live.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1105.
c. How do genuine Christians show that they have the love of God in their hearts? 1 John 5:2, 3; Romans 13:10.
“The love of Jesus in the soul will banish all hatred, selfishness, and envy; for the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. There is health in obedience to God’s law. The affections of the obedient are drawn out after God. Looking unto the Lord Jesus, we may encourage and serve one another. The love of Christ is shed abroad in our souls, and there is no dissension and strife among us.”—Ibid.
“The law of love calls for the devotion of body, mind, and soul to the service of God and our fellow men. And this service, while making us a blessing to others, brings the greatest blessing to ourselves.”—Education, p. 16.
5. AN UNCHANGING LAW
a. What effect did the proclamation of the law have upon the people? Exodus 20:18–20. What effect did it have upon Moses? Hebrews 12:20, 21.
“The people of Israel were overwhelmed with terror. The awful power of God’s utterances seemed more than their trembling hearts could bear. For as God’s great rule of right was presented before them, they realized as never before the offensive character of sin, and their own guilt in the sight of a holy God. They shrank away from the mountain in fear and awe.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 309, 310.
b. Was there a need to change this law? Did Jesus change it? Psalm 111:7, 8; Matthew 5:17–19.
“The law of God in the sanctuary in heaven is the great original, of which the precepts inscribed upon the tables of stone and recorded by Moses in the Pentateuch were an unerring transcript. . . . The law of God, being a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, must forever endure, ‘as a faithful witness in heaven.’ Not one command has been annulled; not a jot or tittle has been changed. Says the psalmist: ‘Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.’ ‘All His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever.’ Psalm 119:89; 111:7, 8.”—The Great Controversy, p. 434.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did the natural beauty surrounding Mount Sinai affect the Israelites? Why is it so important to regularly spend time in nature?
2. What pledge does God want me to make with Him daily?
3. Why did God speak with His own voice when proclaiming the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel?
4. What is the result of having the law of love, the love of Jesus, in the soul?
5. Explain why the law is unchanging.