1 In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness ; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. 3 Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel : 4 'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do !" And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. 9 The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever." Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. 10 The LORD also said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments ; 11 and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 "You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, 'Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 'No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through ; whether beast or man, he shall not live.' When the ram's horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain." 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. 15 He said to the people, "Be ready for the third day ; do not go near a woman." 16 So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire ; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain ; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. (Exodus 19:1-20 NASB)
18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking ; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen ; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." (Exodus 20:18-19 NASB)
God has done mighty wonders, and crushed the strength of Egypt, and brought Israel safely back to the place where he first appeared to Moses in the burning bush so that they all can meet with him. He plans to stay with this people, to be right in the midst of them and make them into a holy nation, where all of them can be in the presence of God.
How do the people react when God comes down on the mountain to meet with them?
Do they want God to talk to them directly?
Do you think you would be scared if God came to talk to you and the earth shook, and there was lightening, smoke, and fire, and the sounds of trumpets blowing all at once?
God does stay with his people in the wilderness, and guide them himself to the land where promised he would take them, the land he promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But he only talks to Moses. The rest of the people don't want to hear God's voice directly. It's too scary for them.
A long time later though the prophets begin to tell of a time when God will come and live with his people again, and this time they will hear him. This first time that God comes to his people it is with fire and smoke and trumpets and lightening, and teh people are afraid.
When he comes again, it is in a very different way. Can you think of what it is?
I'll give you a hint. It involves a girl, and a stable, and the only people who know about it at first are some shepherds.