The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
April 22, 1880 Israel Arrives at Sinai
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.
The , obedient to the onward movement of the , left , having tarried there some time, and journeyed on toward . Their line of march had been across open plains, over steep ascents, and through narrow defiles. Again and again, when they had crossed a sandy waste, and their further progress seemed impossible because of the huge piles of massive rocks which lay directly in their way, a narrow passage would appear, and when this was passed, another barren, uninteresting plain would open to their view.

It was through one of these deep, gravelly passes that they were now called to pass. What a scene was this! Millions of people walled in by abrupt cliffs of rocks which rise hundreds of feet on either side, following a by day, and guarded at night by a , as if the eye of God were fastened directly upon them. Christ in this wilderness school is here giving his people their first lessons in faith and trust in God.

Finally they come to a long range of mountains, upon which the cloudy pillar rests. The people encamp beneath its shadow, and while locked in slumber, the bread from Heaven gently falls upon the encampment. In the early morning, as the sun begins to brighten behind the dark ridge of eastern mountains, its soft, golden tints penetrate the dark gorges, seeming to those weary, almost discouraged travelers, like golden beams of mercy from the throne of Heaven.

Anxious eyes often turn in wonder upon the pillar of cloud hanging over the mount. The immense, rugged piles of granite rocks, with their irregular shapes and peaks, seem thrown together in the wildest confusion. The whole country seems strangely solemn to the weary travelers. They frequently contrast the verdant valleys of Egypt with these dark, and cheerless ravines, and the bustling activity of their former home, with the mountain solitude.

Here the Lord had gathered his people to himself, that he might talk with them. There was nothing here that they chose to worship, nothing to divert their minds, and nothing upon which they would fasten their affections. Everything was calculated to make man feel his nothingness in the presence of him who has “weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.”

Soon after their arrival at Sinai, Moses received a divine summons to ascend the mountain. Alone he climbed the steep and jagged rocks, placing his feet in steps made without hands; and far up on those solitary heights, God informed him that Israel was now to be taken into close and peculiar connection with himself, and that they were to become an organized church in the wilderness, and a nation whom he would govern. These are the words which he spake:–

“Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

Moses came down, and having assembled the elders of Israel, he repeated to them the message of God. When it was made known to them, they answered: “All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.” Here they entered into a solemn covenant with God to accept him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of his divine authority.

Again Moses ascended, and the Lord said unto him, “Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever.” When the Hebrews met with difficulties in the way, they were disposed to murmur against Moses and Aaron, and accuse them of leading the host of Israel from Egypt to destroy them. God would now honor Moses before them, that they might be led to confide in his instructions.

The Lord was about to come near to his people; they were to hear his law spoken, not by angels, but by himself; and Moses was now commanded to prepare them for that solemn event: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.” The people were required to refrain from worldly care and labor, and to possess devotional thoughts. God required them also to wash their clothes. He is no less particular now than he was then. He is a God of order, and requires his people to observe habits of strict cleanliness. Those who worship God with uncleanly garments and persons, do not come before him in an acceptable manner. He is not pleased with their lack of reverence for him, and he will not accept the service of filthy worshipers, for they insult their Maker. The Creator of the heavens and the earth considered cleanliness of so much importance that he said, “And let them wash their clothes.” Some who profess to be followers of Christ, call order and neatness, pride. They seem to consider it a virtue to leave their houses and premises in a disorderly, unimproved condition, thinking that they will thus give evidence of their disregard for temporal things, and their high estimate of spiritual things. But this same neglect and slothfulness which characterizes their business life, will be imparted to their religious life. Their religious experience will be defective. Says the apostle: “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” God requires his people to be neat and orderly. All his directions to the children of Israel were of a character to establish habits of order and cleanliness in their dress, and in their surroundings. This was essential in order for them to preserve health, and to exert a proper influence upon other nations as a people adopted by the living God.

The Lord continued his instructions to Moses: “And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it. Whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. There shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live. When the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.” This command was designed to impress the minds of this rebellious people with a profound veneration for God, the author and authority of their laws.

Three days the people were before the mount. During this time, they had ample opportunity to review their past course of murmuring and impatience, and to repent. God had given them his gracious promise that they should become a peculiar treasure unto him, on condition of obedience; but if they were disobedient he would reject them, and choose another people.

Many regard the Jewish economy as an age of darkness. They have received the erroneous idea that repentance and faith had no part in the Hebrew religion, which they claim consisted only of forms and ceremonies. But the children of Israel were saved by Christ as virtually as is the sinner of today. By faith they saw Christ in those types and shadows which pointed forward to his first advent and death, when type should meet anti-type. They rejoiced in a Saviour to come, typified by sacrificial offerings, while we rejoice in a Saviour who has come. That which was expectation to ancient Israel, is certainty to modern Israel. The world’s Redeemer was in close connection with his people then, being enshrouded in that cloudy pillar. Let us not say, then, that they had not Christ in the Jewish age. The inspired apostle writes: “By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” “esteeming the reproaches of Christ of greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”

The command given to Moses to sanctify the people, brought great responsibility upon him. He was to faithfully point out their past errors, that they might, by humiliation, fasting, and prayer, purify their hearts from the defilement of sin, as well as cleanse themselves from all outward impurities. When the children of Israel were doing all they could to remove from them all defilement of the flesh and spirit, they were doing the same work that God requires us to do if we would be brought into close communion with him. However severe and close the battle to overcome wrong habits, and sinful indulgences, it must be fought and the victory gained. After the power of the will is brought into activity, then there must be a firm reliance upon Christ. When Israel thirsted in the wilderness, and yielded to sinful murmurings, Christ was to them what he is to us, a compassionate mediator, and he pardoned their transgressions. After man has done what he can to cleanse the soul-temple, then Christ’s blood alone will avail for us, as Christ’s typified blood availed for ancient Israel.

Jenny @ 4:49 am