Devotionals Mar 8 – Apr 7, 2023: Set Apart at Sinai

Last month we saw God’s sovereignty at work as he formed Israel into a great nation in Egypt and sent Moses to deliver them from their bondage. He redeemed them by the blood of the passover lamb and brought them through the Red Sea safely. Now, after three months of journeying through the wilderness, the people arrive at Mount Sinai, where the events of the rest of Exodus will take place. In chapters 19 through 40 we will read about the Lord establishing his covenant with the nation of Israel and taking them to be his people. During this time at Sinai, he set Israel apart from the other nations, gave them specific laws to obey, and guided them to build the tabernacle so that he could dwell with them and they could worship him. By studying the events found in these chapters of Exodus, we will gain a better understanding of who God is and who we are to be as his people.

God’s people are special to him. In Exodus 19:5 he refers to the children of Israel as his “peculiar treasure,” indicating that they are cherished and beloved. In 1 Peter 2:9 the apostle uses similar language when he refers to Christians as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” God’s love for his chosen people is evident in the way that he saved Israel out of slavery in Egypt and took care of them on their journey to Sinai. The Lord uses the image of carrying his children “on eagles’ wings” (Ex. 19:4) to show how he lovingly and powerfully protects them from harm.

In his treatment of Israel, we see a beautiful picture of the infinite compassion that the Lord has for each one of his dear children. In his love he has sent his Son to save you from slavery to sin and to bring you into relationship with him. In his love he continues to dwell with you by his Spirit and tenderly care for you as his own child. Yet none of us have done anything to deserve even the very least of this special treatment. It is all because of God’s mercy and grace.

Our heavenly Father is not only merciful and gracious, he is also holy. This holiness sets him apart from us and all creation. “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One” (Isa. 40:25). This separation was visibly evident at Sinai in the way that God dwelled at the top of the mountain. None of the Israelites could even touch the mountain without fearing death (Ex. 19:12). God’s holiness also means that he is perfect in all that he is and everything that he does. Not only is God incapable of sin, but he is the standard of what is righteous.

When God set his people apart at Sinai, he gave them laws to teach them how to live a holy life. God’s people are called to be holy because our God is holy (Lev. 20:7, 1 Pet. 1:15–16). The ten commandments were meant to distinguish the chosen nation of God from the nations around them. They also show us how to live today as citizens of heaven in a wicked world. We have been freed from slavery to sin in order to live a new, holy life in Christ. Is your life visibly different from the world around you? Can others tell that you are God’s precious treasure?

To fully experience the blessings of being God’s precious treasure, Israel needed to obey God’s commands (Ex. 19:5). The right response of the nation of Israel to these words were, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Ex. 19:8). Yet we will see in our reading of Exodus this month that they could not keep their word and obey God’s commands. Israel quickly turned back to idol worship and broke God’s covenant before they had even left Sinai. If not for the intercession of Moses, God would have destroyed them in his wrath. We are no better than the children of Israel. All of God’s people are unable to keep his commandments on our own because of our weak, sinful nature. But in his goodness, he has given us an even better mediator than Moses—Jesus Christ.

Christ is the perfect fulfillment of all the typology that we see in Exodus, including the animal sacrifices, the high priest, and the tabernacle with all its components. In Christ’s blood we are cleansed from all our sins. Because of his continual intercession, we can approach God in prayer and worship at any time. In the New Testament the Spirit of God no longer dwells in the tabernacle or temple, but in the hearts of each one of his children. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). Someday God’s chosen people will be set apart forever in heaven, where we will no longer be burdened by our sin and this wicked world, but free to perfectly serve our heavenly Father and live in his glorious presence (Rev. 21:3).

Abby is a wife and mother in the home. She worships at Trinity Protestant Reformed Church with her family.

Reading Plan

Date Read Meditate Psalter
Mar 8 Ex. 19:1–25 How did the Lord use the physical landscape of Sinai and elements of nature to display his majesty and holiness to the people? 20
Mar 9 Ex. 20:1–17 How do the rules that God gives here enable not only the nation of Israel, but also believers today to live in relationship with the Lord and each other? 78
Mar 10 Ex. 20:18–26 How was Moses a picture of Christ in the way that he served as a mediator between the people of Israel and God? 10
Mar 11 Ex. 21:1–36 Where do you see the ten commandments of Exodus 20 at the heart of the more specific laws given to Israel here? 250
Mar 12 Ex. 22:1–23:19 What aspects of God’s character are displayed by these judicial laws that he gives to the nation of Israel? 260
Mar 13 Exod. 23:20–33 How will the covenant promise that God gives Israel in these verses be fulfilled even more fully in heaven? 211
Mar 14 Ex. 24:1–18 Why was it necessary for sacrifices to be made before the priests and elders could fellowship in God’s presence? What spiritual reality does this picture? 9
Mar 15 Ex. 25:1–9 What is the meaning of the word sanctuary (v. 8)? Why did the children of Israel need to make one? 251
Mar 16 Ex. 25:10–22 What characteristics of the design and location of the ark picture the holiness and mercy of God? 265
Mar 17 Ex. 25:23–30, Lev. 24:5–9 What did the shewbread or bread of the presencerepresent? 408
Mar 18 Ex. 25:31–40, Lev. 24:1–4, Num. 6:24–26 How is the Lord a continual light to his people as signified by the golden candlestick in the holy place? 94
Mar 19 Ex. 26:1–37 What do the colors and precious metals used in the design of the tabernacle represent about the Lord? 208
Mar 20 Ex. 27:1–21 How did the separations within the tabernacle and position of the altar serve as a reminder of what is necessary for sinners to be in God’s presence? 266
Mar 21 Ex. 28:1–43, Heb. 7:23-28 How is Christ, our High Priest, a better fulfillment of the Old Testament priesthood? 303
Mar 22 Ex. 29:1–37, 1 Pet. 2:4–6 Since there is no longer a designated priesthood in the New Testament, how do all believers today offer spiritual sacrifices to God? 339
Mar 23 Ex. 29:38–46 Although the priests had an important role in the Old Testament, how do the closing verses of this chapter make clear that their work was merely symbolic of God’s? 397
Mar 24 Ex. 30:1–10, Ps. 141:1–10 What did the incense burned on the altar represent? 386
Mar 25 Ex. 30:11–16 What is the significance of the fact that there was one ransom price for all men, whether they were rich or poor? 301
Mar 26 Ex. 30:17–21, 1 Cor. 6:9–11 Why is cleansing from sin, as pictured by the brass laver, necessary for fellowship with God? How are we cleansed? 143
Mar 27 Ex. 30:22–38 What can you learn about the service of the Lord from the repetition of the word holy in this section of verses? 432
Mar 28 Ex. 31:1–11 Do you remember that all your knowledge and abilities have been given to you by God? How can you use these skills to serve him? 288
Mar 29 Ex. 31:12–17 What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy? How can you do this? 318
Mar 30 Ex. 31:18–32:35 Were you shocked at how quickly Israel turned to idolatry while still at Sinai? How is your own sin just as shocking? 373
Mar 31 Ex. 33:1–23 What does this chapter teach you about the preciousness of God’s presence? Is God’s presence precious to you? 81
Apr 1 Ex. 34:1–35 How had Moses personally experienced the character of God that is proclaimed in vv. 6–7? How have you? 85
Apr 2 Ex. 35:1–36:7 Although he could have miraculously given Moses all the materials for the tabernacle, why do you think God commanded that they be collected as an offering from the people instead? 166
Apr 3 Ex. 36:8–37:29 What does the material that the tabernacle was made of symbolize about the church of God as it exists on this earth? 170
Apr 4 Ex. 38:1–31 What can you learn from the fact the women of Israel gave up their looking glasses (mirrors) to be used in making the brass laver (v. 8)? 201
Apr 5 Ex. 39:1–43 What did the words engraved on the gold plate of the high priest’s turban emphasize about the responsibility of the priesthood? 268
Apr 6 Ex. 40:1–33 Why do you think such detail is given on how Moses assembled the tabernacle exactly as God had instructed him? 368
Apr 7 Ex. 40:34–38, Rev. 21:1–27 How was the glory of the Lord that filled the tabernacle only a dim picture of a greater glory that awaits in heaven? 396

Originally published March 2023, Vol 82 No 3