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 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 and gaze at the LORD,
and many of them perish. (Exodus 19:20)
The text does not say 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.
In Exodus 20:2, the LORD revealed Himself as the One “…who brought you out of the land of Egypt…” Who was it that brought Moses and the people of Israel out of Egypt? Recall, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 revealed that the LORD spoken of in Exodus 13-14 was indeed the Christ. Now, the Christ atop Mount Sinai revealed to Moses that it is again He who had appeared to him.
Later, still atop Sinai, the LORD revealed that He would send His Angel with them. Notice, “Behold, I sent an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries” (Exodus 23:20-23). At first glance, this might cause us to think it was the Father rather than the Son who spoke to Moses. It is also possible that the Christ is speaking of 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.
WANDERING IN THE WILDERNESS
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, and I will drive out the
Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the
Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to the 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 the Angel of the LORD who had accompanied them thus far would be replaced by another angel (Exodus 33:12). The LORD affirmed 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.’ (Exodus 33:14-15)
What is the “Presence” spoken of here? In Deuteronomy 4:37, from the NIV, we read, “…He brought you out of Egypt by His Presence and His great strength.” Likewise, Isaiah 63:9 speaks of “…the Angel of His Presence…” who saved them. The Presence is a reference to the LORD Himself.
The book of Numbers records a lot of 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 it was the Christ in Numbers 21:5-6. Paul wrote, “…nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents…” The people of Israel in Moses’ day spoke out against the LORD—again Jesus, the Christ—the Angel of the LORD.
It was from the Christ that Moses received the Law. When He saw Jehovah face to face at Mount Sinai, it was Jesus Christ whom he saw.
When Israel wandered in the wilderness, the very same One who led them from Egypt led them through the wilderness. It was the pre-incarnate Christ, the Angel of the LORD.