Three months after leaving Egypt the Israelites entered the Wilderness of Sinai.
They followed the route from Rephidim, arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai, and set up camp. Israel camped there facing the mountain.
As Moses went up to meet God, God called down to him from the mountain: "Speak to the House of Jacob, tell the People of Israel:
'You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to me.
If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you'll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from,
but you're special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.' "This is what I want you to tell the People of Israel."
Moses came back and called the elders of Israel together and set before them all these words which God had commanded him.
The people were unanimous in their response: "Everything God says, we will do." Moses took the people's answer back to God.
God said to Moses, "Get ready. I'm about to come to you in a thick cloud so that the people can listen in and trust you completely when I speak with you." Again Moses reported the people's answer to God.
God said to Moses, "Go to the people. For the next two days get these people ready to meet the Holy God. Have them scrub their clothes
so that on the third day they'll be fully prepared, because on the third day God will come down on Mount Sinai and make his presence known to all the people.
Post boundaries for the people all around, telling them, 'Warning! Don't climb the mountain. Don't even touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain dies - a certain death.
And no one is to touch that person, he's to be stoned. That's right - stoned. Or shot with arrows, shot to death. Animal or man, whichever - put to death.' "A long blast from the horn will signal that it's safe to climb the mountain."
Moses went down the mountain to the people and prepared them for the holy meeting. They gave their clothes a good scrubbing.
Then he addressed the people: "Be ready in three days. Don't sleep with a woman."
On the third day at daybreak, there were loud claps of thunder, flashes of lightning, a thick cloud covering the mountain, and an ear-piercing trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp shuddered in fear.
Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God. They stood at attention at the base of the mountain.
Mount Sinai was all smoke because God had come down on it as fire. Smoke poured from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain shuddered in huge spasms.
The trumpet blasts grew louder and louder. Moses spoke and God answered in thunder.
God descended to the peak of Mount Sinai. God called Moses up to the peak and Moses climbed up.
God said to Moses, "Go down. Warn the people not to break through the barricades to get a look at God lest many of them die.
And the priests also, warn them to prepare themselves for the holy meeting, lest God break out against them."
Moses said to God, "But the people can't climb Mount Sinai. You've already warned us well telling us: 'Post boundaries around the mountain. Respect the holy mountain.'"
God told him, "Go down and then bring Aaron back up with you. But make sure that the priests and the people don't break through and come up to God, lest he break out against them."
So Moses went down to the people. He said to them:
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)