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Form 1 CRE Notes On Sinai Covenant: Moses
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TOPIC 5:SINAI COVENANT: MOSES
THE ISRAELITES IN EGYPT (Gen: 37-47)
- God kept his promise to Abraham when He gave him a son (Isaac).
- God had also promised Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years. After that God would take them out to a promised land.
- Isaac gave birth to Jacob and Jacob had 12 sons.
- Joseph was the most loved one and because of this his brothers envied him.
- One day Joseph had a dream that they were binding sheaves in the field and his sheaf a rose and stood upright. His brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his.
- He then had another dream that the sun, the moon and the stars were bowing down to him.
- Because of the dreams his brothers hated him the more.
- One day Joseph’s brothers sold him to Ishmaelite traders who in turn sold him to Potiphar an officer of the Pharaoh.
- One day the Pharaoh had a dream of seven fat and seven lean heads of grains. The lean ones swallowed the fat ones.
- He again had another dream of seven fat cows by the Banks of river Nile being swallowed by seven thin ones.
- Joseph was called from prison to interpret the dream. The dream meant seven years of good harvest followed by seven years of famine.
- Joseph was made in charge of all the food stores in Egypt. When there was famine in the land of Canaan, Jacob sent his sons to look for food in Egypt. They were surprised to learn that their brother (Joseph) was in charge of food stores in Egypt.
- Joseph made arrangements for his family members to migrate to Egypt
- After sometimes the Joseph died and the Pharaoh whom Joseph had worked under also died. So the new Pharaoh who came to power did not know Joseph. The Israelites increased in number and the new Pharaoh feared that the Israelites would join his enemies and fight them. The rulers decided to over work the Israelites so that they would be kept weak but they kept on increasing in number.
- The king commanded that the male children of the Hebrews should be thrown into River Nile.
- It was during this time that a Hebrew woman gave birth to a child called Moses.
- To save him his mother hid him at the bank of River Nile. There he was rescued and adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter.
- He was brought up in the Kings Court where he learnt leadership skills.
- While in the Kings Court, he killed an Egyptian and fearing punishment from the Pharaoh he fled to Midian where he was taken care of by Jethro.
- He later married Jethro’s daughter called Zipporah and became a shepherd before God called him.
THE CALL OF MOSES (Ex.3:1-4:1-20)
- Moses was looking after the flock of his father in-law, Jethro, when the lord appeared to him.
- An angel of the lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out from the midst of the bush.
- The bush was burning yet it was not consumed. When Moses moved closer to see the strange site, God called and instructed him to remove his shoes for where he was standing was holy.
- This meant that Moses was symbolically naked before God and that there was nothing he could hide from God.
- The removal of the shoes also meant that Moses was beginning a new life and that his sins were also forgiven.
- God told him that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- And Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God. God told him that He had seen the suffering of His people and had remembered His promise to give the Israelites the Promised Land.
- But Moses complained that he was an outcast in Egypt and that the Pharaoh could not accept him. But God assured him that:-.
1. That He would be with him.
2. That Moses would serve him at the foot of the same mountain after coming out of Egypt.
Moses asked God what His name was. And God told him “I AM who I AM”.
- This meant that God was beyond human description and understanding and that God has no limit, no beginning and no end.
- Besides all that assurances Moses further complained to God that the Israelites would neither believe nor listen to him. Then God gave him a miracle to perform as a proof that he was God’s messenger.
- First he was told to use a rod, which turned into a snake.
- He was then told to place his hand in his pocket and on pulling it out it would be affected with Leprosy.
- Moses still complained to God that he was not an eloquent speaker (stammerer). God told him that his brother Aaron was to be his spokesman.
- Then Moses went back to Jethro’s home. He gathered his family members and started his journey to Egypt.
What lessons did Moses learn about God from his call?
- God is holy. For God told he to remove his shoes for the place where he was standing was holy.
- God is loving and caring. For He told Moses that he had seen the suffering of his people.
- God Keep His promises. For He had promised the Israelites that after 400 years of slavery, He would remove them and take them back to Canaan.
- God is God of History. He told Moses that He was the God of his fore fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- God is beyond human understanding. He told Moses, I am who I am, meaning that God cannot be described in human terms.
- God chooses whoever he wills to carry out His duties. For He chose Moses a stammered, murderer and outcast.
- God expects total obedience on the part of those He chooses.
- God punishes the enemy of His people.
- God is powerful than the Egyptian Gods.
- God protects His people for He told Moses that He would be with him.
Why Moses was reluctant to God to go back to Egypt
- He thought that the Israelites would not believe him.
- He was an outcast in Egypt for he had killed an Egyptian.
- He was not an eloquent speaker (stammered)
- He was afraid to face the Pharaoh.
- He felt that he was nobody to stand before the Pharaoh.
- He had not had a clear understanding of the God who called him.
- It was going to be difficult for him to give the name of the God who called him.
- He did not know His clear identity.
THE PASSOVER AND THE EXODUS (EX. 7:14-11)
When Moses and Aaron reached Egypt, they asked the Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to go for a three day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to their God, when God saw that the Pharaoh was adamant, God instructed Moses to perform a miracle to convince the Pharaoh that the matter was serious. However, the Pharaoh was not moved and God through Moses caused nine plagues to befall the Egypt but the Pharaoh was not still moved.
i. The first plague was turning the water into blood.
ii. The plague of frogs.
v. Death of livestock
ix. Plague of darkness
THE NIGHT OF THE PASSOVER (EX. 12)
The tenth plague
In the tenth plague the first-born sons of Egyptians and those of the animals were to die starting with the Son of Pharaoh to the son of the slave in Egypt.
- On the tenth day of the month each man had to choose either a lamb or a young goat.
- The animal chosen was to be a male 1 year old and without blemish (defect)
The use of a young animal signifies the innocence of the sacrifices. While the animals without defect signifies the purity of the sacrifice.
- The animal chosen was to be killed and the blood of the Animal was to be smeared on the two doorposts of the houses of the Israelites.
The blood was to show the houses of the Israelites.
- The lamb of the sacrifice was to be roasted whole. This was the quickest method to cook since the Israelites were in hurry.
- The meat was to be eaten that night with unleavened bread. This was to show that the Israelites had no time to leaven the bread.
- The unleavened bread was to be taken with bitter herbs. The bitter herbs symbolized the oppression (slavery) that the Israelites were subjected to in Egypt.
- They were to eat the sacrificial meat after having dressed themselves and packed their luggage.
- Then the Israelite women were to ask for Jewelry made of silver and gold from the Egyptian women before the day of the departure.
The things taken were to act as a compensation for the free labor they gave in Egypt. 9) 9) everyone was to remain indoors until morning so as to be protected from the angle of death.
- The Passover was to be commemorated annually. Its significance was to be taught to the coming generation.
Moses carried out all the instructions given by God on the first day of the beginning of the year.
On that night the angel killed all the first-born sons of the Egyptians and spared the Israelites’.
On that night the Israelites left Egypt for the Promised Land led by Moses.
How the event was to be commemorated in the Promised Land
1. This event was meant to be celebrated annually on the 14th day of the first month of the year.
2. They were to take bitter herbs to remind them of the bitterness or slavery in Egypt.
3. They were to take unleavened bread.
4. Those who lived near the temple could go to the temple for the celebration.
5. A lamb was supposed to be slaughtered to remind them of the sacrificial lamb in Egypt.
6. They were not supposed to do any work on that day.
7. If the young children asked about the meaning of the event, the elders were to explain to them the meaning.
Lessons learnt from the plagues
- God is more powerful than the Egyptian gods.
- God loves His people. He does not want to see His people suffer.
- God punishes the wrong doers as He punished the Egyptians by killing all the first-born sons of the Egyptians.
- God protects or rescues those He love.
- God answers His people’s prayers.
- God works through His prophets or people.
How the background of Moses prepared him for future leadership
- Moses’ life was spared when he was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter. God had a plan with him in saving the Israelites.
- When he was young he was brought up in the Pharaoh’s palace. During his stay in the palace, he learnt how he could be a good leader. He used the leadership skills in leading the Israelites.
- At the palace he was brought under the care of his mother who taught him that he was not an Egyptian but an Israelite.
- When he escaped to Median, he faced a rough time and hard life. This prepared him for his future hardship that he was to undertake in the wilderness.
- When he was at his father in-law’s place, he looked after the sheep; therefore, he learnt how he could lead human beings.
- He lived with Jethro the Priest of Median. He therefore learnt priesthood.
- He was married before God called him. His marriage life helped him to solve social problems of the Israelites.
- He had lived in Egypt; he was not a stranger to Pharaoh and Egypt. He therefore could approach the Pharaoh.
Reasons why the Israelites left Egypt
- The Israelites left because they wanted to worship God in the wilderness.
- The new Pharaoh who came to power did not know Joseph and therefore started oppressing the Israelites.
- They left because of the suffering they were objected to.
- The Egyptian rulers felt that the Israelites could join their enemies and defeat them.
- They had cried to God and God had heard their prayers.
- They had increased in number and this was a threat to the Egyptians
- It was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years and later God would remove them to give them the Promised Land.
THE CROSSING OF THE RED SEA
- At last the Israelites were out of Egypt. The word “Exodus” means going out.
- God guided them through the wilderness towards the red sea.
- Immediately the Israelites left Egypt the Pharaoh and his people regretted letting them go.
- He therefore pursued them with the intention of bringing them back to slavery.
- The Israelites had camped by the sea, seeing the Egyptians coming they cried out to Moses.
How the power of God was experienced during the crossing of the sea
- At daytime the Israelites were guided by a pillar of cloud and at night there was a pillar of five.
- God instructed Moses to lift his rod above the water separated into two.
- The Lord threw the Egyptian army into confusion.
- The wheels of their chariots came off and they had difficulty in driving.
- The Israelites walked through dry land.
- After the Israelites had passed, Moses stretched his rod over the sea again and the waters lowered back and covered the chariots. The Egyptians died.
THE ISRAELITES IN THE WILDERNESS (Exd.15-17)
- The Israelites saw God’s mighty saving works. They sang and danced in His praise.
- After the Israelites had traveled in the desert for three days without water. They were thirsty. But the water which they found was bitter and they could not drink it... Moses called the place Marah.
- God instructed Moses to throw a piece of wood into the water and the water became sweet.
- When the Israelites reached Rephidim God instructed Moses to strike a rock and water came out of it and they were able to drink it.
- As the Israelites were traveling through the desert, they ran short of food. They were hungry and complained to Moses. God provided the Israelites with Manna and Quails.
- As they moved towards Mt. Sinai, they confronted by the Amelekites. Through God’s power they were able to defeat the Amelekites.
- When the Israelites were in the desert, the Lord sent venomous snakes that bit the Israelites because they had sinned against God. Then God instructed Moses to make a Bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who looked at the bronze lived. (Numbers: 21:6-9).
THE COVENANT AT SINAI (EXODUS 19)
- When God called Moses, He assured Moses that he (Moses) would serve God at Mt. Sinai when they came out of Egypt.
- When the Israelites arrived at the foot of the mountain, Moses went up the mountain to meet God.
- God reminded Moses of how he had removed them from Egypt.
- If the people obeyed God, He was going to:-
i. To make them His chosen people.
ii. Make them a holy nation.
iii. They would be a kingdom of priests.
- When Moses came down the mountain, he told the people what the Lord had said. The Israelites promised to do as the Lord had said.
- God promised that on the third day, He was going to come down the mountain inform of a thick cloud.
Preparations the Israelites were to make before meeting God
- They were to consecrate themselves.
- To wash their garments and to be ready on the third day.
- Moses was to make boundary around the mountain...
- The people were not to go up the mountain for whoever went up the mountain was to be stoned to death.
- They were to abstain from sexual relations.
Moses went and told the Israelites what the Lord had said.
On the third day the Lord appeared in the form of:-
- A thick cloud over the mountain.
- There was thunder and lightning.
- There was a loud trumpet.
- Everyone in the camp trembled.
- The mountain was covered with smoke.
- The Lord descended on it in the form of fire.
- The whole mountain trembled violently.
The Lord then told Moses to go up the mountain and take Aaron with him.
Sealing of the covenant (Exodus 24)
- When Moses had passed to the Israelites all the laws of God, the people responded by saying, “all the words that the Lord has spoken we will do”.
- Then Moses prepared a ceremony to seal the covenant.
- He built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He then placed 12 stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel.
- He then sent young men to sacrifice young bulls to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and sprinkled on the altar and the other half in bowls.
- He took the book of the covenant and read it to the people and the people responded by saying “We will do everything that the Lord has said”.
- Moses then took blood and sprinkled on the people saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you”.
- The sprinkling of the blood meant that the covenant between God and the Israelites was binding.
- The ceremony was concluded by God giving the Israelites the stone tablets in which the laws were written.
The Ten Commandments are as follows:-
1. You shall not have any other gods before me.
2. You shall not make yourself any graven image of me nor bow down to any image.
3. You shall not use God’s name in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother that your days may be long.
6. You shall not kill.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.
The importance of the 10 commandments to the Israelites
1. The Ten Commandments were meant to guide the Israelites on how to relate with other nations as they enter with Promised Land.
2. They were meant to define how the Israelites were to relate towards God.
3. They guided the Israelites on how to relate well with their fellow Israelites.
4. They helped in the protection of property.
Importance of the Ten Commandments to Christians today
1. The Ten Commandments guide the Christians on how to relate with God.
2. Christians are reminded to have good relationship with the people they live and work with.
3. The Commandments expect Christians to live an upright life...
4. They help Christians to overcome challenges in life.
How the Ten Commandments are applicable in the life of a Christian
- Christians are warned against worshipping any other God.
- God is unique and cannot be represented by any visible human made objects.
- Christians are warned against swearing in God’s name falsely.
- The Sabbath day should be honored and kept holy by Christians no work is supposed to be done on that day.
- Christians should show respect to their parents. Parents in this case refer to anyone older than you.
- Life is so sacred and nobody is allowed to take another person’s life.
- Christians should avoid irresponsible sexual behavior.
- Christians are forbidden from taking another person’s property.
- It is the responsibility of a Christian to honest and not swear falsely against a neighbour. A neighbour is anyone who may need your assistance.
- Christians are supposed to be contented with what they have and not covet another’s property people should work hard to acquire their own possessions.
THE BREAKING OF THE COVENANT (EXODUS 32:1-35)
- After sealing of the covenant, Moses went back to the mountain to receive the stone tablets on which the commandments were written.
- He left Aaron in charge of the affairs of the Israelites.
- He stayed there for 40 days. The 40 days signifies many days
- When the people of Israel saw that Moses had delayed on the mountain they asked Aaron to make for them a god.
- Aaron commanded them to take off the golden earrings, which their sons, daughters and wives were putting on.
- He then he molded the god and forged it into a golden calf.
- The Israelites became excited and began to celebrate.
- They offered sacrifice to it and danced around it saying that it is the god that removed them out of Egypt.
God sent Moses to go and witness what the Israelites had done.
- Moses then came down with the two stone tablets on the 10 Commandments were written.
- Moses became quite angry; he threw down the stone tablets and broke them.
- Moses then burnt the golden calf. Spread its ashes and gave the people to drink.
- He then called those who were on the Lord’s side to come to his side.
- Then members of the house of Levi came to his side.
- He then ordered them to kill those who had refused to come to the Lord’s side.
- About three thousand people were killed
Why the Israelites worshipped the golden calf
- Moses had delayed up the mountain. To them the absence of Moses meant the absence of God.
- They were influenced by the Egyptians ‘polytheistic’ practices (worship of more than one god.) which the people were used to worshipping image.
- Aaron was weak in faith. He allowed himself to be influenced by their demands.
- There was the availability of materials e.g. gold, Jewelry which they melted to produce the golden calf.
- The Israelites had forgotten God’s serving power i.e. how God had saved them from Egypt.
- They did not have a proper understanding of the God that had made the covenant.
- They were influenced by the communities they came in contact with in the desert.
RENEWAL OF THE COVENANT (EXODUS 34:1-14)
- After the Israelites had broken the covenant, Moses went up the mountain to plead with God to forgive the Israelites.
- This resulted into renewal of the covenant.
- He commanded Moses to cut two new stone tablets and go with them up the mountain. He was again willing to make a covenant with them.
- During the renewal of the covenant, God instructed the Israelites to obey the following commands:
1. They were to obey all the Lords commandments.
2. They were to tear down all altars of the gods of other tribes and places of idol worship.
3. They were not to marry people from other tribes for that would influence them to turn to idol worship.
4. They were required to keep the Jewish feast such as Passover and the feast of weeks.
5. They were to rest on the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
6. They were to sacrifice and offer their best produce and animals to God.
7. They were not to make cast idols.
8. The first-born were to be dedicated to God.
Attributes of God revealed during renewal of the covenant
- God loves.
- God is gracious.
- God is slow to anger.
- God is merciful
- God is forgiving.
- God punishes wrong doers. He does condemn evil.
- God is holy.
- God is a jealous God. He does not allow the worship of other gods.
- God value a personal relationship with his people
THE ISRAELITES WORSHIP OF GOD IN THE WILDERNESS (EXODUS 20:22-26, 23:14-20)
- Worship refers to the practice of showing respect and love to God. During their period in the wilderness, the Israelites worshipped God as individual and as community.
- These occurred at a specific place.
- The Israelites showed respect to God in the wilderness in the following ways:-
1. They kept the Sabbath day and regarded it a special day of rest. On that day no one was supposed to do any work.
2. They offered sacrifices and offerings to God. The animals used for the sacrifices included sheep, goats, and bulls etc. Offerings included grains, incense. The Offerings could either be burnt or roasted.
3. The Israelites observed many festivals where they worshipped God.
- Such feasts included feast of the unleavened bread (Passover which was celebrated in the fourteenth day of the first month of the year.)
- There was also the feast of the harvest. This was also called the feast of week or Pentecost.
- There was also the feast of the tabernacle.
4. The Israelites also made altars that symbolized the presence of God amongst the Israelites. Moses built an altar during the sealing of the covenant.
- Abraham also built two altars at Bethel and Shechem as a sign of honor to God.
5. The Commandments
- God gave the Israelites laws which were meant to guide them. These laws also included
The 10 Commandments and Mosaic Law referred to as the Torah.
6. The Israelites had religious leaders. God also chose priests from the tribe of Levi. Their duties included:
- Carried tabernacle
- Offered sacrifices to God.
- Taught the law.
- They also organized prayer services.
- Organized choirs.
7. They also sang songs in praise of Yahweh.
8. They carried the Ark and Tabernacle. The tabernacle was at times referred to as the tent of meeting.
Significance of the Ark and the Tabernacle
- The Tabernacle was portable tent where the Israelites worshipped God.
- It was in the tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.
- The Ark symbolized the presence of God. Thus the Ark was taken to God’s dwelling place.
- The priest offered sacrifice to God in the tabernacle.
Some of the Jewish ways of worship in the wilderness that have been adopted by Christians
- Christians still make altar.
- There is the observance of the 10 Commandments, which were observed by the Israelites.
- Christians still observe certain feasts such as the feast of the Unleavened Bread (The Lord’s Supper).- Just as the Israelites had religious leaders Christians today have religious leaders in form of Pastors, Priests etc.
- Christians observe the Sabbath day although this day may differ from one denomination to another.
- Christians offer cereals, vegetables, fruits to God as offering.
Problems the Israelites faced in the desert
- The Pharaoh turned his heart and made his soldiers to pursue the Israelites.
- There was lack of food and water in the desert. God supplied them with quails and water.
- They were bitten by poisonous snakes.
- At times their faith was shaken e.g. the worship of the golden calf.
- Attack by hostile desert tribes such as the Amelekites.
- They faced harsh desert climate e.g. it was hot during the day and cold during the night.
- The journey across the desert was long and tiresome.
- It took forty years to pass through the desert to the Promised Land.
- -t was difficult for Moses to unite them. Some people were dissatisfied with his leadership. There were often disputes between them.
Problems that the Israelites faced during their settlement in Canaan
- They fought wars of conquest with the inhabitants of Canaan such as Philistines.
- It was difficult for them to change from nomadic lifestyle to Agricultural life.
- They faced famine.
- They settled in an environment which they were not familiar with.
- They lacked effective leadership especially after the death of Joshua.
- They were influenced by the Canaanite culture.
- The Canaanite religion also at time made them live the Covenant way of life.