1. THE PEOPLE PROMISE OBEDIENCE
a. After the proclamation of the law, who were called up into the mountain, and who only was told to come near to the Lord? Exodus 24:1, 2.
b. As the people heard all the words of the Lord as related by Moses, what did they answer with one voice? What did Moses then do? Exodus 24:3, 4.
“The minds of the people, blinded and debased by slavery and heathenism, were not prepared to appreciate fully the far-reaching principles of God’s ten precepts. That the obligations of the Decalogue might be more fully understood and enforced, additional precepts were given, illustrating and applying the principles of the Ten Commandments. These laws were called judgments, both because they were framed in infinite wisdom and equity and because the magistrates were to give judgment according to them. Unlike the Ten Commandments, they were delivered privately to Moses, who was to communicate them to the people.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 310.
“[Exodus 24:3 quoted.] This pledge, together with the words of the Lord which it bound them to obey, was written by Moses in a book.”—Ibid., p.312.
2. ISRAEL ENTERS INTO A COVENANT WITH GOD
a. When Moses took the book of the covenant and read it in the ears of the people, what did they again promise? Exodus 24:7.
“If the Israelites had obeyed God’s requirements, they would have been practical Christians. They would have been happy; for they would have been keeping God’s ways, and not following the inclinations of their own natural hearts. Moses did not leave them to misconstrue the words of the Lord or to misapply His requirements. He wrote all the words of the Lord in a book, that they might be referred to afterward. In the mount he had written them as Christ Himself dictated them.
“Bravely did the Israelites speak the words promising obedience to the Lord, after hearing His covenant read in the audience of the people. They said, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.’ Then the people were set apart and sealed to God. A sacrifice was offered to the Lord. A portion of the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled upon the altar. This signified that the people had consecrated themselves—body, mind, and soul—to God. A portion was sprinkled upon the people. This signified that through the sprinkled blood of Christ, God graciously accepted them as His special treasure. Thus the Israelites entered into a solemn covenant with God.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1107.
b. What did the Israelites fail to realize in their decision to enter into a covenant with God? Romans 7:18; John 15:5.
“God . . . gave [Israel] His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: ‘If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.’ Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.’ Exodus 24:7.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 371, 372.
c. What was used by Moses to ratify the covenant made at Sinai? Exodus 24:8.
3. MOSES IN THE MOUNT
a. For what purpose was Moses again called into the mount? Exodus 24:12; 25:8, 9, 40.
“During his stay in the mount, Moses received directions for the building of a sanctuary in which the divine presence would be specially manifested. ‘Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them’ (Exodus 25:8), was the command of God. . . .
“Henceforth the people were to be honored with the abiding presence of their King. ‘I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God,’ ‘and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory’ (Exodus 29:45, 43), was the assurance given to Moses. As the symbol of God’s authority and the embodiment of His will, there was delivered to Moses a copy of the Decalogue engraved by the finger of God Himself upon two tables of stone (Deuteronomy 9:10; Exodus 32:15, 16), to be sacredly enshrined in the sanctuary, which, when made, was to be the visible center of the nation’s worship.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 313, 314.
b. What was seen on Mount Sinai? Exodus 24:15–17.
c. How long was Moses upon the mount with God? Exodus 24:18. How did the Lord want to enlighten the world through Israel? How does this apply to us today?
“From a race of slaves the Israelites had been exalted above all peoples to be the peculiar treasure of the King of kings. God had separated them from the world, that He might commit to them a sacred trust. He had made them the depositaries of His law, and He purposed, through them, to preserve among men the knowledge of Himself. Thus the light of heaven was to shine out to a world enshrouded in darkness, and a voice was to be heard appealing to all peoples to turn from their idolatry to serve the living God. If the Israelites would be true to their trust, they would become a power in the world. God would be their defense, and He would exalt them above all other nations. His light and truth would be revealed through them, and they would stand forth under His wise and holy rule as an example of the superiority of His worship over every form of idolatry.”—Ibid., p.314.
4. THE GOLDEN CALF
a. When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, what did they say as they gathered around Aaron? Exodus 32:1.
“During this period of waiting, there was time for them to meditate upon the law of God which they had heard, and to prepare their hearts to receive the further revelations that He might make to them. They had none too much time for this work; and had they been thus seeking a clearer understanding of God’s requirements, and humbling their hearts before Him, they would have been shielded from temptation. But they did not do this, and they soon became careless, inattentive, and lawless. Especially was this the case with the mixed multitude. . . . There were some who suggested a return to Egypt, but whether forward to Canaan or backward to Egypt, the masses of the people were determined to wait no longer for Moses.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 315.
b. How did Aaron reveal his weakness? What did the people do? Exodus 32:2–6; Psalm 106:19, 20.
“A few who ventured to denounce the proposed image making as idolatry, were set upon and roughly treated, and in the confusion and excitement they finally lost their lives.
“Aaron feared for his own safety; and instead of nobly standing up for the honor of God, he yielded to the demands of the multitude.”—Ibid., pp.316, 317.
c. What warning does this experience contain for us? 1 Corinthians 10:7.
“We repeat the sin of Aaron, pacifying, when the eyesight should be clear to discern evil and state it plainly, even if it places us in an unpleasant position, because our motives may be misapprehended. We must not suffer wrong upon a brother or any soul with whom we are connected. This neglect to stand up firmly for truth was the sin of Aaron. Had he spoken the truth plainly, that golden calf would never have been made.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1109.
5. MOSES PLEADS FOR THE PEOPLE
a. Relate the discussion between the Lord and Moses regarding the apostasy in the camp. Exodus 32:7–14.
“As Moses interceded for Israel, his timidity was lost in his deep interest and love for those for whom he had, in the hands of God, been the means of doing so much. The Lord listened to his pleadings, and granted his unselfish prayer. God had proved His servant; He had tested his faithfulness and his love for that erring, ungrateful people, and nobly had Moses endured the trial. His interest in Israel sprang from no selfish motive. The prosperity of God’s chosen people was dearer to him than personal honor.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 319.
b. What does God want us to do when we meet apostasy today? 2 Timothy 4:2.
“Of all the sins that God will punish, none are more grievous in His sight than those that encourage others to do evil. God would have His servants prove their loyalty by faithfully rebuking transgression, however painful the act may be. Those who are honored with a divine commission are not to be weak, pliant time-servers. They are not to aim at self-exaltation, or to shun disagreeable duties, but to perform God’s work with unswerving fidelity.”—Ibid., pp.323, 324.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did the additional precepts given to the Israelites relate to the Ten Commandments?
2. How can I be a “practical Christian”? Will this make me unhappy?
3. How can I help to preserve a knowledge of God in this world?
4. Why do we sometimes fail to stand up for what is right? What repercussions can this have?
5. What can I learn from Moses’ attitude toward those who were outright disobedient and others who were inconsistent in their faith?