This covenant is an agreement between God and Israel, adding various conditional promises to the unconditional promises of God. In this covenant, God clearly spells out to Israel the consequences for disobedience as well as the blessing for obedience.
God wants to make a covenant with Israel. He plans for His people to be a kingdom of priests to the nations by following His commands. The people agree to obey Him in all things.
The LORD tells Moses to consecrate the people in order to prepare them for the making of the covenant. God will come down to Mt. Sinai on the third day of these preparations.
The LORD descends to Mount Sinai with thunder, lightning, cloud, and trumpet sounds. Only Moses and Aaron are allowed to climb the mountain to meet with the LORD. Any violation of these rules would be tragic.
The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of Genesis concerning the migration of the family of Jacob (the Israelites) to Egypt (Genesis 50). It describes the commissioning of Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives on earth to accomplish God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It also relates the miraculous deliverance from Egypt beginning with the plagues on Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. It then describes the journey to Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites. The last part of the book involves the specifications and building of the tabernacle – the place where the Lord Himself dwelt amongst His people.
In the book of Exodus, the focus shifts to the deliverance of God’s people.
The Israelites have now arrived at Mount Sinai, also called Mount Horeb. The LORD tells Moses to go up the mountain so that He could meet him there. The LORD then revealed to Moses His plans for His people Israel. They were to become a kingdom of priests to the surrounding nations. A priest is one who represents God to others. Israel’s assignment is to live in such a manner as to create great blessings among its people, to the extent that other nations would desire to copy Israel, and also be blessed. Accordingly, Israel was to attract other nations to worship the true and living God through their example; that following God’s ways was a superior way of life. The superior manner of living is to be self-governing, recognizing God’s ways as the foundation for law.
God commanded that the people approach the mountain in order to go through a ceremony that would consecrate them for this purpose. The LORD then appears on Mount Sinai. All of this was done to prepare the Israelites for becoming His priests to the nations, and to prepare them for the giving of His law.
Exodus 19 can be outlined as follows:
The LORD Defines a Covenant with Israel (Ex. 19:1 – 9)
The LORD Consecrates Israel (Ex. 19:10 – 15)
The LORD Descends to Sinai (Ex. 19:16 – 25)