Exodus 19

These small group studies of Exodus contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Exodus 19 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

I. God reaffirms His covenant to the Israelites through Moses (1-6)

II. The people commit to obeying God (7-8)

III. God tells Moses His plans to come to the people in a dense cloud (9-13)

IV. The people prepare to meet God (14-15)

V. God’s holiness contrasted with the sinfulness of the people. (16-24)

I. Verses 1-6

Discussion Questions

What does God mean that He carried them on Eagles’ wings?

What is God’s covenant that He wanted them to keep?

How were they to keep it? (adverb, carefully)

What does this tell us about how we are to treat God’s commands?

Which part were the to keep (all)?

What does this tell us about how we are to keep God’s commands?

What promises did God make to them if they obeyed Him?

What does it mean that they are His possession? Isn’t everyone His? So what is the difference?

Why does He call them a “kingdom of priests.”? A holy nation?

Cross-References

1 Peter 2:9 – You are a chosen people.

Deuteronomy 7:6 – You are a people holy to the Lord.

Teaching Points

1. Here God talks with Moses directly and gives Moses a message to share with the people. The foundation for the message that he was going to give was that God is powerful and they had seen His power. Here we see again some of the purposes for why God had done all the miracles in front of them. Knowing God’s power should make them have stronger faith and be more willing to obey Him.

2. He carried them on eagle’s wings. This is symbolism. For what? I think it shows victory (like soaring over your enemies), speed (eagles are very fast) and strength (the eagle is the one who bore the weight not the eagles “passengers.”) Isaiah 40:31 (or 41:31) uses similar symbolism.

3. Here God affirms His plan to make Israel a holy nation. This is the essence of His covenant with them. It includes land, a great nation, a line and so on. But here I think we can really see God’s goal as to why He chose them. He wanted the nation to be special, to be holy. It says He chose them to be a kingdom of priests. What does this mean? Obviously a lot of Jews would become priests, but I think this is deeper than that. Firstly, priests are consecrated. They are purified and sanctified. They are set apart from the people. God wanted the nation to be pure, to be consecrated for His work just like priests. Secondly, priests are consecrated for the purpose of representing people to God. I believe God wanted the nation of Israel to be His chosen messengers to represent all the other people of the earth to God. If they followed God’s will perfectly this would have been the result. Of course, the problem was that they didn’t. They weren’t consecrated or set apart and they became like the people around them.

4. God wanted to make them a holy nation. This reaffirms His desire for them to be pure and holy. He didn’t want them to be the same as the other nations. They were supposed to be different. All idols and any hint of immorality or evil was to be removed from their midst.

5. God chose them specifically out of all the people in the world. This is the doctrine of election. We don’t know the reason why God chose them, but He did. It certainly wasn’t for their good deeds. We have seen their repeated complaints and grumblings.

6. In the same way God chooses us out of the whole earth to be His very own possession. Once He chooses us, we are His. We belong to Him in a special way. God also wants us to be His priests. All believers are priests because we represent God to the people and people to God AND because we go directly into God’s presence without any barriers. Just like in Romans 12:1-2, God wants us to be different than the world, to commit ourselves to Him fully and not be tainted with evil. IF we are sanctified like this, God will use us mightily. But if we allow sin to reign like the Jews later did, God may choose other ways to accomplish His work.

7. This covenant was conditional. What was the condition? It was conditional upon their obedience. Notice it says that they were not only to obey, they were to CAREFULLY obey. This is a reminder to us that we need to pay careful attention to God’s Word. Make it a priority. Think before we act, speak or make a decision to make sure it is in line with God’s commands. Imagine a boss gives you a project to do and says if you every step correctly you will get paid a large bonus. Will you be careful? Of course, you will double and triple check every thing you do and go over ever part of the project making sure it is just right because you want the bonus. That is how we are to obey God’s commands. Also it says to obey ALL of God’s commands. We don’t have the right to pick and choose the ones we like. James 2:10 says if we break one, we break the whole law. God wants us to obey all of His commands. For now it would seem that God’s promise to make them a holy nation of priests has not yet been fulfilled. What do you think? It seems to me it hasn’t because they weren’t careful to obey all of His commands. I believe this will be fulfilled in the tribulation/millennium period. At that time God will work in their hearts and make them obedient and then the nation will be holy and God’s representatives to the whole earth as He planned.

II. Verses 7-8

Discussion Questions

How did the people respond to God’s instructions?

What if anything is significant about the fact that they responded together?

Teaching Points

1. The people completely agreed. This is the right response. However, we know that it is important not just to walk the walk, but talk the talk. Saying the right words is good, but action is more important. Matthew 21:28-32.

2. They responded all together. This is an example of good peer pressure. You don’t want to be the one person in the group who doesn’t agree to obey. Many times in Exodus we can see the power of suggestion, the power of a group. Most of the time this had negative effects. When some people started grumbling and complaining a lot of others followed their lead. In this case, it was good for them.

III. Verses 9-13

Discussion Questions

What were God’s reasons for coming to the people in a dense cloud? Do you think this would help the people believe and follow Moses? Why or why not?

What did God not appear to them directly?

What was the point of purification? Why give them three days to prepare? Why wash their clothes?

What was the purpose of putting boundaries around the mountain?

Why would anyone who touched it die?

Explain in your own words “purification” and “consecration.” Are there any special events that we as believers need to consecrate ourselves for?

What was more important than the outer washings? How can we consecrate our hearts to God?

Teaching Points

1. The people were to prepare to meet God. This preparation included consecrating themselves. Outwardly this was shown by washing their clothes (which probably really needed it after a long journey in the wilderness.) They had three days to prepare. I think this shows the importance of the process of consecration. They were to take it seriously. It wasn’t a “five minutes and your done” type of thing. For three days there were to consider anything unclean, anything sinful, anything evil, and get rid of it.

2. Of course in the Old Testament there were a lot of ritual cleansings. These outer rituals demonstrated what should be going on in their hearts. It showed them to take God seriously. There are actually some modern day parallels to this. For example, in many traditional American churches, it is custom to wear your “Sunday best.” That means pressing/ironing/cleaning your very best clothes and dressing up to look your very best. The idea is that you are going to God’s house so you should look your very best. I think it shows something deeper too. If a person is sloppy on the outside, perhaps they didn’t respect God or take church seriously. I’m not saying you have to wear a suit every Sunday (although in many churches I have been to that is the norm.), but that we should take meeting with God seriously and not casually. I think this is the reason for this kind of tradition and the traditions of cleansins in the OT.

3. So when do we need to consecrate ourselves today? Of course every day would be ideal. Definitely before taking the Lord’s supper and also before church, before worship, and even in prayer when you first start praying to God it is good to confess sins. So to purify ourselves, we should examine our lives and confess any known sins both to God and to those whom we have wronged. Matthew 5:23, 1 Cor 11:28

4. God told Moses to set barriers around the mountain so they would not touch it. We will discuss more about this in a minute. For now we can understand it something like the bridge illustration. How so? We as sinners are separated from God. That is because God is holy and we are not. In some way it is also for our protection because if we were to actually see God we would die immediately because of God’s glory and our sinful state. These restrictions would be a physical reminder to the people of God’s transcendence and holiness. The penalty for breaking God’s clear command was severe, instant death. In fact, this is the most just penalty for any sin (wages of sin is death).

Exodus 33:20 – You cannot see my face or you will die.

IV. Verses 14-15

What was the symbolic significance of washing their clothes?

Why were they not allowed to have sexual relations? Is there any NT verse that supports the idea of abstinence for a time?

1. We discussed already consecrating ourselves.

2. Here it mentions another way to consecrate themselves and that is to have no sexual relations. It is like the concept in 1 Cor 7:5. That is that for some special events a couple can/should abstain for a period of time in order to focus more on God. This is similar to the concept of fasting. Eating food is not wrong just as sexual relations with a spouse is not wrong. However, sometimes you can fast for a period of time to devote yourselves and your mind more fully to God. This is exercising self-control and self-discipline to have less pleasure yourself to worship God more.

1 Corinthians 7:5 – Do not deprive one another except…

V. Verses 16-24

Discussion Questions

Why all the spectacles of thunder and lightning? What does the fact that it was the third day just as Moses said do to show it was not just natural (Moses didn’t wait until there was a storm and then say God was in it.)

|Where do you think the trumpet sound came from?

What is the significance of the trumpet? Why did the people shudder? Do you shudder in fear when you see a lightning storm? What does this show us about the nature of the storm?

Why the smoke and fire and earthquake? How do you think you would have felt if you were there? What would your impression of God be? What would your impression of yourself be? How might having seen this powerful display change how you view God and how you live your life?

Why would the people die if they touched the mountain?

What lessons do you think God intended to teach the people through this event?

Based on this event what one-word adjectives can you think of to describe God (Go around in a circle)?

God is love so why would God kill the people who came on the mountain?

What does it mean that He might “break out” against them? What does this show us about God’s character?

What does it mean to you that God is transcendent?

Teaching Points

1. This happened the third day just as Moses said. Notice Moses didn’t wait until there was thunder and lightning and then say “God is in it.” He told them ahead of time when God was coming to talk with them.

2. This was quite an event! Thunder! Lightning! I think these show God’s power and also God’s control over nature. I personally enjoy watching a good lightning storm (from a distance!) The thunder and the lightning are powerful forces of nature that show God’s power in creating this. I’m assuming that this thunder and lightning was especially stunning, powerful, loud, and vivid if not even supernatural. To be right in the middle of it was clearly a fearful experience. Why did God do this? I believe He wanted them too see His power and develop a healthy respect and AWE of Him.

3. The horn. A loud trumpet was added on top of the thunder and lightning. Perhaps this was Gabriel or another angel. Whoever blew it, a trumpet is like an announcement. Often times trumpets signal the coming of the king or other royalty. Heralds use them to remind people to bow down and look because the king is coming. I think this is why it is used here. It is to show them that God is about to come in the cloud. They should bow in worship.

4. Smoke and fire! More of God’s power displayed. Fire is a purifying force. It also signifies holiness since fire burns away all the junk.

5. Imagine if you are in the middle of a display like this. What would your impression of God be? What would your impression of yourself be? How might having seen this powerful display change how you view God and how you live your life?

6. God had Moses set up barriers to protect the people. Bill Cosby stepping back 7 feet so as not to jump at his daughter example. Because God is purely holy, He cannot tolerate sin. It seems as though when God gets too close to sin (like when people touch the ark), it is so reprehensible and disgusting to Him that out of justice and holiness He must execute judgment. Setting the barrier there was for their protection. It is a very real and physical reminder that as sinners we are separated from God. This is very different than in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve could talk to God face to face. Now God has to appear in a thick cloud with a barrier. Our sins do separate us from God. Only the death of Christ can restore us.

7. Applications: Be holy as God as holy. Consecrate ourselves. Hate sin as God hates it. Thank God that although He is transcendent and over all the earth He still loves us. Also remember that God chose us out of all the world to be a holy nation and priests before Him to reach all the people for Him.

Study Exodus 20

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