Last time we saw that whilst Moses was on the mountain for 40 days receiving further instructions from Yahweh regarding the sanctuary, so that He ‘may dwell in their midst’ and go with them, the people broke the covenant by making and worshipping a golden calf. This greatly angered Yahweh and He was minded to ‘consume them’:
Exodus 32:9-10 WEB
Yahweh said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and, behold, they are a stiff-necked people.
10 Now therefore leave me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them, and that I may consume them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
What was Moses reaction to this?
Exodus 32:11-13 WEB
Moses begged Yahweh his God, and said, “Yahweh, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, that you have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
12 Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘He brought them forth for evil, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the surface of the earth?’ Turn from your fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against your people.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.'”
Moses says ‘they are your people, you brought them out of Egypt, remember your covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Israel’, and Yahweh responded favourably:
Exodus 32:14 WEB
Yahweh repented of the evil which he said he would do to his people.
But there were great repercussions when Moses went back down the mountain nevertheless:
Exodus 32:19-20 WEB
It happened, as soon as he came near to the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing: and Moses’ anger grew hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mountain.
20 He took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, ground it to powder, and scattered it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
Exodus 32:26-29 WEB
then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on Yahweh’s side, come to me!” All the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.
27 He said to them, “Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘Every man put his sword on his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and every man kill his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.”
28 The sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
29 Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to Yahweh, yes, every man against his son, and against his brother; that he may bestow on you a blessing this day.”
Three thousand men died that day at the hands of the Levites, instructed by Yahweh through Moses. In verses 30 to 34 Moses returns to Yahweh, confesses their great sin and asks for them to be forgiven, even offers himself – but Yahweh needed to teach the people a lesson in a different way:
Exodus 32:34-35 WEB
Now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.”
35 Yahweh struck the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
Remember Exodus 22:20?
Exodus 22:20 WEB
“He who sacrifices to any god, except to Yahweh only, shall be utterly destroyed.
Yahweh also said as a result of the golden calf event:
Exodus 33:2-3 WEB
I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:
3 to a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I consume you in the way.”
He would send an angel, but would not go with them Himself, but Moses persisted:
Exodus 33:13-17 WEB
Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight: and consider that this nation is your people.”
14 He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 He said to him, “If your presence doesn’t go with me, don’t carry us up from here.
16 For how would people know that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Isn’t it in that you go with us, so that we are separated, I and your people, from all the people who are on the surface of the earth?”
17 Yahweh said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have spoken; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”
Yahweh instructs Moses to cut two more tablets of stone and to return back up Mount Sinai:
Exodus 34:1-2 WEB
Yahweh said to Moses, “Chisel two stone tablets like the first: and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.
2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain.
Notice that Yahweh is going to write the same words on the second tablets as were on the first which were broken. Yahweh did the writing again! And He wrote the same words!
Exodus 34:28 WEB
He was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread, nor drank water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Deuteronomy 10:1-5 WEB
At that time Yahweh said to me, Hew you two tables of stone like the first, and come up to me onto the mountain, and make an ark of wood.
2 I will write on the tables the words that were on the first tables which you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.
3 So I made an ark of acacia wood, and hewed two tables of stone like the first, and went up onto the mountain, having the two tables in my hand.
4 He wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which Yahweh spoke to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and Yahweh gave them to me.
5 I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they are as Yahweh commanded me.
Thirty nine years later at Moab, Moses summarizes what took place during this second time on Mount Sinai saying:
Deuteronomy 10:10-11 WEB
I stayed on the mountain, as at the first time, forty days and forty nights: and Yahweh listened to me that time also; Yahweh would not destroy you.
11 Yahweh said to me, Arise, take your journey before the people; and they shall go in and possess the land, which I swore to their fathers to give to them.
Yahweh had every right to destroy them, but was unwilling to do so – the instruction to Moses was to carry on and to lead the people to the promised land – promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Remember the instruction was ‘they were to keep Yahweh’s covenant AND OBEY HIS VOICE’, there would be ongoing directions that they were expected to follow!
Exodus 19:5 WEB
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples; for all the earth is mine;
This was still to be the same:
Exodus 34:11 WEB
Observe that which I command you this day. Behold, I drive out before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
Exodus 34:32 WEB
Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them all of the commandments that Yahweh had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.
Exodus 35:1 WEB
Moses assembled all the congregation of the children of Israel, and said to them, “These are the words which Yahweh has commanded, that you should do them.
These instructions included the making of the tabernacle and all the associated contents, priests garments etc – read this in Exodus 35 to 39.
In Exodus 40 we see the tabernacle erected and put into service, in the first month of the second year (after leaving Egypt):
Exodus 40:1-2 WEB
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
2 “On the first day of the first month you shall raise up the tent of the Tent of Meeting.
Exodus 40:17 WEB
It happened in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tent was raised up.
Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests:
Exodus 40:12-15 WEB
You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water.
13 You shall put on Aaron the holy garments; and you shall anoint him, and sanctify him, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office.
14 You shall bring his sons, and put coats on them.
15 You shall anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may minister to me in the priest’s office. Their anointing shall be to them for an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
Notice that in verse 29 the facility for burnt offerings etc are installed at the door of the tent of meeting:
Exodus 40:29 WEB
He set the altar of burnt offering at the door of the tent of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the meal-offering, as Yahweh commanded Moses.
So Moses put everything in place as instructed:
Exodus 40:33 WEB
He raised up the court around the tent and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.
And Yahweh’s presence was with them:
Exodus 40:34-38 WEB
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Yahweh filled the tent.
35 Moses wasn’t able to enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud stayed on it, and Yahweh’s glory filled the tent.
36 When the cloud was taken up from over the tent, the children of Israel went onward, throughout all their journeys;
37 but if the cloud wasn’t taken up, then they didn’t travel until the day that it was taken up.
38 For the cloud of Yahweh was on the tent by day, and there was fire in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
The book of Leviticus contains many detailed instructions for how Israel were to conduct themselves under this ‘Levitical/law of Moses system’:
Leviticus 1:1-2 WEB
Yahweh called to Moses, and spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting, saying,
2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘When anyone of you offers an offering to Yahweh, you shall offer your offering of the cattle, from the herd and from the flock.
Leviticus 7:37-38 WEB
This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meal offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecration, and of the sacrifice of peace offerings;
38 which Yahweh commanded Moses in Mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to offer their offerings to Yahweh, in the wilderness of Sinai.
Leviticus 25:1 WEB
Yahweh said to Moses in Mount Sinai,
Leviticus 27:34 WEB
These are the commandments which Yahweh commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.
Notice that these instructions were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and cover offerings, sacrifices, the priesthood, clean and unclean animals, purification and cleansing, diseases, forbidden things, how to love your neighbour, appointed feasts, jubilees, punishment for disobedience, vows etc.
The book of Numbers continues the record of events from ‘the second month of the second year out of Egypt’:
Numbers 1:1 WEB
Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
We see the tribe of Levi being commissioned to minister at the tabernacle instead of ‘all the first born of Israel’, as had been the situation previously:
Numbers 3:5-12 WEB
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
6 “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him.
7 They shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the Tent of Meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle.
8 They shall keep all the furnishings of the Tent of Meeting, and the obligations of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.
9 You shall give the Levites to Aaron and to his sons. They are wholly given to him on the behalf of the children of Israel.
10 You shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall keep their priesthood. The stranger who comes near shall be put to death.”
11 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
12 “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn who open the womb among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be mine:
Chapter 8 of Numbers describes how the Levites were cleansed and purified, and offered as ‘a wave offering’ to Yahweh. They were consecrated to serve as the priesthood under Aaron and his sons.
We have seen now the extent of the instructions given by Yahweh to Moses on Mount Sinai for the people of Israel. Some before the incident of the golden calf and some after it, in order that the people could be allowed to carry on and live.
The tabernacle was constructed and set up, along with the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system. Instructions were given to Moses regarding how the nation of Israel were to conduct themselves as they made their journey to the promised land. As we shall see in a future study, this got them as far as the plains of Moab (adjacent to the Jordan River) just under 39 years later, where they were about to enter the promised land.