Read Exodus 19:1-20:21
This encounter with the Divine at Mount Sinai was a memorable one. God wanted to make an impression on His people when He gave them the Law (including the 10 Commandments). He used visual effects…lightning, a thick cloud, fire, and smoke. He made loud sounds like thunder claps and trumpet blasts. This would be a day that they would long remember.
And then, He gave the commandments. There are some that describe how people should relate to Him. Give Him first place in your life. Don’t worship objects made by man. Use His name in an honoring way. Be sure to take time for rest and refreshment. Commandments like these were to define how we honor God.
Meanwhile, there were other commandments that tell people how to treat one another. Treat your parents with honor. Don’t kill others. Be faithful if you are married. Don’t take things that belong to other people. Don’t lie about others. Be careful not to be jealous. These directions from God help us to know how He wants us to treat others.
The giving of those commandments was so awesome and terrifying that the people asked that God stop talking (20:19). They were so moved by the experience that they later vowed, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” (Ex. 24:3)
But it was only a handful of chapters later (chapter 32) that they were already violating one of the Ten. They had constructed an image/idol!
This points out two important realities:
- In spite of our good resolve, no one of us can keep the commandments of God. In fact, the very purpose of the Commandments is to point out our sin and to direct us to Jesus (Gal. 3:23-25).
- Mountaintop experiences are great. They are often a place of clear vision and great resolve. But the carry through of commitments made is not so easy. We do well to develop safeguards like accountability that help to ensure the realization of those commitments.