The Israelites arrived in the wilderness of Sinai exactly two months after they left Egypt.
After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the base of Mount Sinai and set up camp there.
Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called out to him from the mountain and said, "Give these instructions to the descendants of Jacob, the people of Israel:
'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle's wings.
Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me.
And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation.' Give this message to the Israelites."
Moses returned from the mountain and called together the leaders of the people and told them what the LORD had said.
They all responded together, "We will certainly do everything the LORD asks of us." So Moses brought the people's answer back to the LORD.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a thick cloud so the people themselves can hear me as I speak to you. Then they will always have confidence in you."Moses told the LORD what the people had said.
Then the LORD told Moses, "Go down and prepare the people for my visit. Purify them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing.
Be sure they are ready on the third day, for I will come down upon Mount Sinai as all the people watch.
Set boundary lines that the people may not pass. Warn them, 'Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Those who do will certainly die!
Any people or animals that cross the boundary must be stoned to death or shot with arrows. They must not be touched by human hands.' The people must stay away from the mountain until they hear one long blast from the ram's horn. Then they must gather at the foot of the mountain."
So Moses went down to the people. He purified them for worship and had them wash their clothing.
He told them, "Get ready for an important event two days from now. And until then, abstain from having sexual intercourse."
On the morning of the third day, there was a powerful thunder and lightning storm, and a dense cloud came down upon the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram's horn, and all the people trembled.
Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
All Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain shook with a violent earthquake.
As the horn blast grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply for all to hear.
The LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain.
Then the LORD told Moses, "Go back down and warn the people not to cross the boundaries. They must not come up here to see the LORD, for those who do will die.
Even the priests who regularly come near to the LORD must purify themselves, or I will destroy them."
"But LORD, the people cannot come up on the mountain!" Moses protested. "You already told them not to. You told me to set boundaries around the mountain and to declare it off limits."
But the LORD said, "Go down anyway and bring Aaron back with you. In the meantime, do not let the priests or the people cross the boundaries to come up here. If they do, I will punish them."
So Moses went down to the people and told them what the LORD had said.
Then God instructed the people as follows:
"I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt.
"Do not worship any other gods besides me.
"Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish.
You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god! I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations.
But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.
"Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
"Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work,
but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any kind of work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.
For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
"Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God will give you.
"Do not murder.
"Do not commit adultery.
"Do not steal.
"Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
"Do not covet your neighbor's house. Do not covet your neighbor's wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns."
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the horn, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
And they said to Moses, "You tell us what God says, and we will listen. But don't let God speak directly to us. If he does, we will die!"
"Don't be afraid," Moses said, "for God has come in this way to show you his awesome power. From now on, let your fear of him keep you from sinning!"
As the people stood in the distance, Moses entered into the deep darkness where God was.
And the LORD said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel: You are witnesses that I have spoken to you from heaven.
Remember, you must not make or worship idols of silver or gold.
"The altars you make for me must be simple altars of earth. Offer on such altars your sacrifices to me -- your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Build altars in the places where I remind you who I am, and I will come and bless you there.
If you build altars from stone, use only uncut stones. Do not chip or shape the stones with a tool, for that would make them unfit for holy use.
And you may not approach my altar by steps. If you do, someone might look up under the skirts of your clothing and see your nakedness.
Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?"
22"No!" Jesus replied, "seventy times seven! 23"For this reason, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25He couldn't pay, so the king ordered that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. 26But the man fell down before the king and begged him, 'Oh, sir, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.' 27Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.28"But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 29His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. 'Be patient and I will pay it,' he pleaded. 30But his creditor wouldn't wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt could be paid in full.31"When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him what had happened. 32Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?' 34Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny.35"That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)