Mount Sinai & The Wilderness

William J. Stewart | Christ In The Old Testament

Receiving The Law At Sinai
Having come out of Egypt, the children of Israel arrived at the base of Horeb, the same place where God had appeared to Moses when He sent him to Egypt. Moses recorded,

…the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the LORD, and many of them perish. (Exodus 19:20)

The text does not tell us that this is the Christ, at least not outright. But, it is inferred that the LORD was visible to Moses, and would be to any who might “break through” from the base of the mountain. This would indicate that it is indeed the pre-incarnate Christ at the top of Mount Sinai with Moses.

As we continue into Exodus 20, Moses says that God spoke these words:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Exodus 20:2)

Who was it that brought Moses and the people of Israel out of Egypt? Recall, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 revealed that the LORD spoke of in Exodus 13-14 was indeed the Christ. Now, the Christ atop Mount Sinai reveals to Moses that it is again He who has appeared to him.

Later, still atop Sinai, the LORD revealed that He would send His Angel with them (Exodus 23:20-23). At first glance, this might cause us to think that it was the Father rather than the Son who was speaking with Moses. It is also possible that the Christ is speaking about Himself in the third person. I suggest this is more likely the case, given what Stephen says about the encounter atop Mount Sinai. Notice,

This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us (Acts 7:38)

It was the Christ, the Angel of the LORD who met with Moses atop Mount Sinai, and revealed the Law to him there.

Wilderness Wandering
The Angel of the LORD was promised to accompany the people of Israel in Exodus 23. as we continue to consider the LORD’s discourse with Moses, Exodus 33 also affirms that the Angel of the LORD would go with them. Notice:

Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ And I will send My Angel before you… Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people. (Exodus 33:1-3)

As Moses heard this, he apparently thought that the Angel of the LORD who had accompanied them thus far would be replaced by another angel (Exodus 33:12). The LORD made it clear that the Angel of the LORD would continue with them:

And He said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.’ (Ex 33:14-15)

What is the Presence spoken of here? Deuteronomy 4:37 reads:

…he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength. (NIV)

Likewise, Isaiah 63:9 speaks of …the Angel of His Presence… who saved them.

The book of Numbers records a lot of the details about their wanderings in the wilderness. In Numbers 21:5-6, it is recorded:

…the people spoke against God and against Moses: why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.’ So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and many of the people died.

In 1 Corinthians 10:9, Paul reveals that it was the Christ whom they tempted, and were thus destroyed by the serpents. God, whom they spoke against in Numbers 21 was in fact Christ Jesus—the Angel of the LORD.

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