2006-09-13 / Religion

Sunday School Lesson

Be assured that God remembers
Rev. James Temples

Exodus 19:1-6; 24:3-8

Many events occurred between the establishment of the divine covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:7-12) and the declaring of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17). Isaac, the son of Abraham was born. Genesis 21:1, 2. This child grew into manhood, married, and had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Genesis 24:67; 25:19-26. After deception, the "covenant" passed on to Jacob. Genesis 27:23-29. Jacob and his family were able to obtain food in the land of Egypt, due to the son of Jacob having been sold into slavery by his brothers. Finally, Jacob and the whole group moved to the land of Egypt, and were cared for by his son, Joseph. Genesis 46:1-4, 29. For the next 430 years, this family re-mained in Egypt. These people were made slaves by the king "which knew not Joseph." Exodus 1:8b.

People have a way of "leaving the scene of action." "And it came to pass in process of (i.e., of much) time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel (i.e., the descendants of Abraham through Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel) sighed (groaned) by reason of the bondage, and

they cried (cry for help in distress), and their cry came up unto God (Elohim) by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groanings, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect (i.e., called to mind) unto them." Exodus 2:23-25.

Divine intervention spared the life of the child, Moses, and he was reared in the house of Pharaoh, receiving all of the training that was appropriate for that position. Exodus 2:110. He attempted to deliver the Israelites in his own way. Exodus 2:11-14. His rash actions forced him to leave the country, fleeing for his life, going to a desert area. Exodus 2:15.

Moses remained in that area for 40 years. Acts 7:30. While "he kept the flock of Jethro his father in law" (Exodus 3:1), ... "the angel of the Lord (Jehovah) appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush" (Exodus 3:2). This event led to a series of actions that resulted in the children of Israel leaving their bondage. Exodus 12:31-33.

When they left that land of bondage, they were not a "nation," but a group of freed slaves. They had no form of "government," nor any kind of "guiding principles" that would assist them in developing any degree of "organization." "And the Lord (Jehovah) went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." Exodus 13:21, 22.

The record states that "In the third month (i.e., after leaving bondage), when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai." Exodus 19:1. We are told that "there Israel (this term came to denote the whole congregation) camped before the mount." Exodus 19:2.

Thus, Moses had returned to the place of his encounter with God at the "burning bush." "And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." Exodus 19:3, 4. A divine appeal and promise was given to the group. "Now therefore, if ye will obey (hear intelligently) my voice indeed, and keep (watch over; guard) my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar (private) treasure (depository; something exceedingly prized) unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." Exodus 19:5, 6.

The people were at the base of Mount Sinai, and heard the voice of God as he gave to them the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:1-17. The record declares that "they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." Exodus 20:19. The other laws were delivered to the people through his servant.

"And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered (responded) with one (i.e., a united) voice, and said, All (the whole of) the words (message; matter spoken) which the Lord hath said will we do (accomplish; perform)." Exodus 24:3. Do we make long term committments in the "heat of the moment?" God listens to the declarations that we make - no matter the circumstances. Matthew 12:37.

After the "words" were given orally, "Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under (below) the hill (mountain), and 12 pillars (columns; memorial stones), according to the 12 tribes of Israel." Exodus 24:4.

The whole group was involved in this first "acts of worship" that marked the "beginning" of their national encounters with God. "And he (i.e., Moses) sent young men (word used of a boy from infancy to adolesence) of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings (sacrifice offered to God with praise), and sacrificed (slaughtered) peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord." Exodus 24:5.

Since "covenants" were made by the "covenanting parties passing between the pieces," Moses "mediated" between the "parties" - between God and his chosen people. "And Moses took half of the blood (i.e., from the sacrificed animals), and put it in basins (bowls); and half of the blood he sprinkled (to scatter) on the altar." Exodus 24:6. We are told that "he took the book (historical record; writing) of the covenant, and read it in the audience (i.e. the ears) of the people: and they said, All (the whole of) that the Lord hath said will we do (accomplish; perform), and be obedient (hear intelligently and obey)." Exodus 24:7.

The next action taken by Moses "sealed the other half" of the covenant. "And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold (see) the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words." Exodus 24:8.

Over six centuries had come and gone between the time of the covenant with Abraham and this covenant at Mount Sinai. It is not clear from the record whether or not the "slaves" had much knowledge of the covenant of the past. Yet it was - and, still, is - comforting to know that God "remembers." Centuries have passed since Jesus Christ told the disciples that he would return. John 14:1-4. Today, we can be assured of the constancy of God. Malachi 3:6.

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