What was YHVH’s purpose for bringing the Israelites to Mount Sinai? Without understanding His reason for revealing Himself to His people there, as He did, we will continue to camp by that mountain. We will be studying all the details of the commandments, statutes and ordinances, collecting offerings - “trumot” – for the purpose of building a sanctuary for Him and then working hard at doing the mitzvoth. We will also keep trying to decide how to carry out what we are hearing. Because the original Hebrew script is so complicated, the poor lay person would feel the need to rely on rabbis and theologians for interpretation. As a result, all this effort will end up becoming a hierarchal religious system, devoid of the relationship YHVH has intended for us to have with Him. So let us examine the reason that Elohim brought us to the mountain, so that we may move on. There are two statements in Exodus that not only show YHVH’s intent, but also demonstrate His absolute devotion to carry out His plans for His people (past, present and future).
“And Moses went up to Elohim, and YHVH called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself” (Exodus 19:3-4 italics and emphasis added). Notice “I brought you to Myself”. The following verses demonstrate YHVH’s attitude and intentions toward His people, who were to be “to Me a special treasure, to Me a kingdom of priests and a set apart nation” (19:5-6). The Almighty was looking to prepare a place for Himself, as seen from a statement in Exodus 25:8: "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” His intentions were not to dwell in a building, but within a nation of priests and kings.
The above statements highlight the YHVH’s place in the relationship even though the called out ones were stiff necked and disobedient, a trait that seems to haunt us even in this generation. We have to be careful that we do not become so enamored with discovering our Israelite identity and being called a treasured possession of the Most High and a priesthood, that we forget our first love: "You shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6). It is very easy for us to be living for ourselves, using our relationship with Abba for our sake, rather than existing for Him and for His name’s sake.
The one rabbi who had a clear understanding of YHVH’s perspective of the Sinai covenant, was Rabbi Shaul. In his commentaries he explains the purpose for giving the “Law”. “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses” (Romans5:13-14). Thus in spite of “sin not being imputed" it did reign and mankind was obviously suffering the consequences (as is evident in the early Torah narratives).
So what is it that took place at Sinai that changed everything? And why is it so important that we as believers today understand our relationship to the Torah. For societies to be functional, in antiquity as in our own day, they obviously had to have laws and moral and operational codes, even some of YHVH’s laws were practiced and upheld (see, for example, Gen. 5:26). However, there was not a clear spiritual demarcation line. By and large Man’s attempts to set up codices of law stemmed directly from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
YHVH’s commandments of “you shall” and “you shall not” are based on the Spirit of His Word, with the intent of convicting humanity of Sin. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7 emphasis added). “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20 emphasis added). Sin could not be atoned for until after YHVH gave the Law, and because in giving it He knew that His laws would be violated, He immediately made provision for a sacrificial system and gave instructions for constructing the Mishkan and the instatement of the Levitical priesthood, in order to facilitate the sacrifices.
YHVH’s intent was to have a people for His name sake, so that He might dwell not just among, but IN, them. But as long as the heart/spirit of His people was still corrupted by the fallen spiritual condition it was impossible for His Spirit to unite with theirs. It was therefore necessary for YHVH to prepare the people by this first agreement, or should I say contract, which both parties signed, thus setting in motion His future plan that would make it possible for Him to dwell in them. Through Moses and the blood of an oxen the first Sinai covenant was inaugurated.
“Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to YHVH. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that YHVH has said we will do, and be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘this is the blood of the covenant which YHVH has made with you according to all these words’" (Exodus 24:5-8).
Now you might be asking “what is meant by the first Sinai Covenant”…..?
To be continued