The Lord Commands Israel to Leave Mt Sinai

Many years ago Bev Shea was attending the Bible School in Ottawa (Ontario) He loved to sing. After more training in New York City, he was given an audition at one of the radio stations and was offered a contract. He asked that he might sing Gospel songs. He was told that he might … More


God tells Moses that he and his people were led out of Egypt and they now need to move out of Mt Sinai and go toward the promised land (v. 1). He promised to send an angel with them and defeat their enemies but said He would not go with them (vv. 2-3). Because of their sin of making and worshiping the golden calf, he was inclined to destroy them but because of Moses’ prayer He would spare them.

In contrast to the strained relationship between Israel and the Lord (vv. 4-5), Moses experienced a great relationship with Him. He told Moses to tell the people to take off their fancy jewelry during this time and they started mourning. Soon they stopped wearing fancy jewelry (v. 6). Moses erected a tent outside the camp (v.7). The fact it was erected outside the camp was a constant reminder to the people that because of their sin God was outside their community. This was really a call to separation. Each time he went out to the tent, the other people would stand outside their tents and watch him enter (v. 8).

This tent was not the tabernacle, but Moses own personal dwelling where God met with him and he with God. The larger, more permanent tabernacle of the congregation was not finished and set up until almost seven months later (Ex. 40:2). The people would bow down as a thick cloud would come down in front of the tent as the Lord would speak to Moses (vv. 9-10). Afterward, Moses would return to the camp but Joshua, his assistant, would stay there (v. 11).


I want to be careful to not separate from other Christians over petty things when I am told that I should be “Forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). The chief reason for separation is idolatry.

Exodus 33:1-11 (English Standard Version)

The LORD said to Moses, "Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your offspring I will give it.' I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff- necked people." When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, 'You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.'" Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward. Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

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