God and Israelites: God had specific instructions on how the Israelites were to prepare to make the new covenant. Before making the covenant, God brought Israelites to the foot of Mt. Sinai and asked Moses to ask them if they were willing to make the covenant with HIM. GOD asked them to enter into a personal relationship as a community with HIM.

The Israelites agreed to make a covenant. They agreed to obey all God’s commands.

God then promised to make them;

  1. i His people
  2. A kingdom of priests
  3. iii. A holy nation


God and Moses.

God wanted to confirm that Moses was His true prophet. He therefore told Moses that He would come in a thick cloud to meet Israelites. In preparation for God’s coming on Mt. Sinai


The Israelites were to:

  1. Make themselves holy by washing their clothes (garments)
  2. Mark the boundaries on the foot of the mountain to prevent any person or animal from climbing the mountain.

III. To abstain from sexual relations.

At Mt Sinai, God manifested His presence in the form of thunder, lightening, earthquake and a thick cloud of smoke that covered the whole mountain.

In addition, there was a loud trumpet blast that made the people tremble.

Moses climbed the mountain.

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments after sealing the covenant. Sealing of the covenant. The Lord told Moses “Come up the mountain to me, you and Aaron, Nadab, Abibu and 70 of Israel leaders.

At a distance bow down in worship, and come alone to me.”


A ceremony was then prepared to seal the covenant. This is how it was sealed:

  1. Moses built an altar at the foot of the mountain.
  2. He set up twelve stones, which represented the twelve tribes of Israel.
  3. He then sent young men to burn sacrifices to the Lord and sacrificed.

some cattle as fellowship offering and peace offerings to God (EX 24 vs. 5).

  1. Moses took half the blood of animals and poured it in bowls; and the other half he threw against the altar (vs. 6).

He then took the book of the covenant, and read it aloud to the Israelites who responded by saying “all that the Lord has spoken we will do; and we shall be obedient”

  1. Moses then took the blood in the bowls and sprinkled it over the people; saying “This is the blood that seals the covenant which the Lord made with you when he gave all these commands.”

Theophany. God’s presence manifested itself in several ways such as:

  • The burning bush (during the call of Moses).
  • Pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud – Exodus story.
  • The mighty wind, earthquake, still small voice – story of Elijah.
  • Thunder, lighting, smoking mountain – Exodus of Israelites from the wilderness.


These were physical manifestations of God’s presence.

Breaking the Sinai Covenant (Exodus 32:1 – 35; 34:6 –8)

Israelites dishonored their pledge to obey God upon sealing the covenant; Moses went back to talk to God in the mountain. He left Aaron in charge of Israelites’ affairs. He stayed in the mountain for forty days.

The lord revealed His glory to Moses at Mt. Sinai and declared His character. ”The Lord the compassionate and glorious God, slow to anger and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin (Ex 34:6 – The Israelites urged Aaron to make them gods that they could see. Aaron agreed. He melted the rings of gold and moulded a bull calf god.


Israelites were happy and said “this is our god who took us out of Egypt”. They offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to it and indulged themselves in eating, drinking and sex. By accepting a bull calf as their god, the Israelites expected bull calf of gold to give them the same strength and fertility like the Egyptian gods.


Through this act, they broke their covenant with God. When Moses came down from the mountain, he found Israelites worshipping the gold bull calf. He got annoyed. He threw down the stone tablets he was holding; on which the 10 commandments were written. Moses then took the golden calf, and burnt it into powder and mixed it with water. He then made those worshipping the calf to drink the mixture. Moses ordered those who had sinned to be killed.


See also

Worshiping God in the Wildernes

African Moral Values Introduction



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