Exodus 19: Preparations for receiving the Ten Commandments
10 And Jehovah said to Moses, Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments.
11 And let them be prepared against the third day, because in the third day Jehovah will come down to the eyes of all the people upon Mount Sinai.
12 And thou shalt set a border to the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that you not go up into the mountain, or touch the extremity of it; everyone who touches the mountain, dying he shall die.
13 A hand shall not touch it, for stoning he shall be stoned, or shooting he shall be shot; if a beast, if a man, he shall not live; when the trumpet’s [sound] is drawn out, they shall come up to the mountain.
14 And Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and sanctified the people, and they washed their garments.
15 And he said to the people, Be ready for three days; do not approach a woman.
True Christian Religion 282. There is not a nation in the whole world which does not know that it is wicked to murder, to commit adultery, to steal, and to bear false witness, and that kingdoms, republics, and every form of organized society, would be at an end unless these evils were guarded against by laws. Who then can suppose that the Israelitish nation was so stupid beyond all others as not to know that these are evils? Anyone therefore may wonder that laws so universally known in the world should have been promulgated from Mount Sinai by Jehovah Himself in so miraculous a way.
But listen: they were promulgated in so miraculous a way to make known that these laws are not only civil and moral laws, but also Divine laws; and that acting contrary to them is not only doing evil to the neighbor, that is, to a fellow citizen and society, but is also sinning against God. Wherefore these laws, by their promulgation by Jehovah from Mount Sinai, were made also laws of religion. Evidently whatever Jehovah commands, He commands in order that it may be a matter of religion, and thus something to be done for the sake of salvation.
TCR 283. In the Israelitish church the Decalogue was holiness itself. The commandments of the Decalogue were the first fruits of the Word and therefore the firstfruits of the church about to be established with the Israelitish nation. And as they were in a brief summary the complex of all things of religion, by which there is a conjunction of God with man and of man with God, they were so holy that nothing could be holier. That they were most holy is clearly manifest from [the way they were given on Mt. Sinai, and the stories of the miracles done by the Ark containing the Decalogue]...
TCR 285. Because by that law there is a conjunction [or joining together] of the Lord with man and of man with the Lord, it is called “The Covenant” and “The Testimony;” the covenant because it brings about conjunction, and the testimony because it confirms the articles of the covenant... For this reason there were two tables, one for God and the other for man. The Lord brings about conjunction, but only when man does what is written in his table; for the Lord is continually present and wishes to enter in, but man, by the freedom which he has from the Lord, must open to Him, for the Lord says:
Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will have supper with him, and he with Me (Rev. 3:20).
Since “covenant” means conjunction, it is said of the Lord,
That He shall be a covenant for the people (Isa. 42:6; 49:8, 9).
He is also called “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1).
And His blood is called “the blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:28; Zech. 9:11; Exod. 24:4–10).
And therefore the Word is called the Old Covenant [Testament] and the New Covenant; for covenants are made for the sake of love, friendship, association, and conjunction.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Why do you think there were strict boundaries set around Mt. Sinai to prevent people from coming too close when the Ten Commandments were given? What does that mean for us?
- How well known are the Ten Commandments in our country today? Do you think a majority regard them as Divine?
- The Lord gave us the Ten Commandments as a brief summary of all things of religion. Can you see (and sometimes feel) how the Decalogue conjoins us with God, and also promotes “love, friendship, association and conjunction” among men?