Moses brought the children of Israel from the Red Sea into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. “Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, What shall we drink” (Exodus 15:23-24). This was the first of many murmurings against Moses by the people. Moses cried unto the Lord about this situation. The Lord told Moses to cast a certain tree into the water, which made the water good to drink.
They left Mariah and came to Elim where there were twelve wells of water, and they encamped there by the waters. They departed from Elim and came into the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the 15th day of the 2nd month after their departure from Egypt. Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
“And the children of Israel said to them, Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Then the Lord said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not” (Exodus 16:2-4).
“Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, At evening you shall know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord; for He hears your complaints against the Lord. But what are we, that you complain against us? Also Moses said, This shall be seen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.
“Then Moses spoke to Aaron, Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your complaints. Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud” (Exodus 16:6-10).
The “cloud” was a theophany of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jehovah “appearing in a cloud” is similar to the “burning bush” event of Exodus 3:2-5, where two Persons of the Triune God are involved, Jehovah and the Holy Spirit. At this time, Moses did not want to look into the burning bush to see the Lord, for he was terribly afraid.
The Angel of the Lord (who was in the cloud) turned His Shekinah glory on and lit up the “cloud.” All the people could see was a bright form inside the cloud. No human can see the glory of the Lord face to face and live. The Lord told Moses that he heard the murmurings from the people and would take care of their needs. Then they would know He was the Lord their God.
“So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, What is it? For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:13-15).
The Lord gave instructions to Moses regarding the gathering of the manna. It appeared on the ground each day as thin flakes like frost. The people ground it like grain and cooked it like a pancake. They were to eat all they gathered and not save any for the next day, or else it would stink and breed worms. On the 6th day, they were to gather twice as much manna, and were allowed to keep some for the next day.
Moses instructed the people about this allowance: “Then he said to them, This is what the Lord has said: Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning. So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Exodus 16:23-26).
Unfortunately, some of the murmurers disobeyed this commandment, so the Lord told Moses to make sure all the people obeyed and not gather any manna on the 7th day (Sabbath). “And the house of Israel called its name manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31). This commandment to rest and do no work on the 7th day is reminiscent of the one God gave Moses (during the Passover event in Egypt) regarding the 7th day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The children of Israel ate manna for forty years until they came into the borders of the land of Canaan.
God rested on the seventh day of creation and blessed it. He made sure His chosen people, Israel, did the same on the Sabbath day. Resting on the Sabbath was not a suggestion; it was a commandment. For the Hebrews, it was a capital offense to work on this special day of the Lord.
The people journeyed to Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. “Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, Give us water, that we may drink. So Moses said to them, Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord? And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst? So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!” (Exodus 17:2-4)
The Lord told Moses to gather the elders of Israel (and take his rod that he smote the Red Sea with) and go to where He would direct them. “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:6-7).
The Amaleks came and fought in Rephidim. Moses told Joshua, his lieutenant, to choose men and go out and fight them. Amalek was a descendant of Amalek, a grandson of Esau. Joshua obeyed Moses and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of a hill.
“And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Exodus 17:11-13).
Moses gave thanks to the Lord. He built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissis, for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
The children of Israel came to Mount Sinai in the third month (Sivan), on the same calendar day as their departure from Egypt (14th day of the month). The date would have been Sivan 14, 1446 B.C.
“And Moses went up to God, and the Lord 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. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Exodus 19:3-6).
Moses relayed this message from the Lord to the Israelites. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” “Then the Lord said to Moses, Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (Exodus 19:10-12). The Lord also told Moses to inform the people to keep a safe distance from the mountain and base. If they touched the mountain they would be killed.
“Then it came to pass on the third day [Sivan 17, 1446 BC], in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly” (Ezekiel 19:16-18). This is reminiscent of the theophany during the covenant between Abraham and God where “the smoking furnace” and the “burning lamp” passed between the pieces of the sacrifice.
This was a spectacular theophany of Jehovah in his glorious, Godly form. He was accompanied by the Holy Spirit in the form/s of a cloud and smoke (like a furnace). The children of Israel were looking from a safe distance because of their great fear. They couldn’t make out any details of God, but they saw the accompanying elements that surrounded Him… fire, dark clouds, lighting, thunder, and a loud sound of a trumpet. Trumpets were always played upon an arrival of the king in ancient times. This sound, however, was the sound of a trumpet played by a heavenly being and not by an earthly man.
“And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the Lord said to Moses, Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them” (Exodus 19:19-22).
Moses did as he was told and went down the mountain and warned the people once again. He then went back up the Mount again and talked with God. The Lord God verbally gave Moses the Ten Commandments, laws concerning people and property, and general laws for living as a people and nation of the Lord… He stressed the importance of the 4th Commandment (no work on the Sabbath).
The Lord also informed Moses that the land should rest every 7 years. That meant the people and work animals were not to sow the land every 7th year. If they obeyed God, He would make the 6th year so bountiful that it would last for the next couple of years. The Lord instructed Moses that three times in a year all Hebrew adult males would gather and keep a feast unto the Lord. These three events were known as the feast of Unleavened Bread, feast of harvest (later called Pentecost), and the feast of ingathering (later called Tabernacles).
Jehovah told Moses, “Behold, I send an Angel (Angel of the Lord) before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
“For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars. So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days” (Exodus 23:20-26).
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all His laws and commandments. The people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which the Lord has said, we will do.” Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and then built an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. The children of Israel offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings to the Lord. “And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words” (Exodus 24:8).
After the blood covenant, Moses, Aaron and his two sons, and 70 of the elders of Israel went up the mountain. There they saw the God of Israel, “and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:10-11). Seventy four children of Israel saw a theophany of Jehovah on this day. This was probably the Angel of the Lord in an angelic body, but not the glorified Jehovah in His Shekinah glory.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone (the Ten Commandments), and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them. So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed, Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them.
“Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain. Now the glory (Shekinah) of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:12-18). This time Moses wanted to see the full glory of the Lord, unlike when he was too afraid to look into the “burning bush.”