Sinai covenant 

Sinai covenant  or The call of moses

One day, Moses was looking after or tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law. Jethro was a priest of Midian. When Moses came to mount Horeb, the mountain of God, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that although the bush was on fire, it was not burning.

Moses went over to the burning bush to look. God called him out within the bush… “Moses! Moses!” He replied, “Here I am”. God then told Moses not to come closer and to take off his sandals for the place where he was standing was a holy ground.

God introduced himself as the God of his father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God then said he had seen the misery and sufferings of the Israelites in Egypt.

He had heard their cry. God had come down to rescue Israelites from the hand of Egyptians. God was to take them to their home, the land of the Canaanites, a land flowing with milk and honey.

God told Moses that He was sending him to go to Pharaoh and bring out the Israelites, the people of God, from Egypt. Moses resisted the call. He asked God “Who am I, that is should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israe-lites out of Egypt?” God promised to be with him. God said to Moses… Say to the Israelites… the Lord. The God of their fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob has sent me to you.

Moses was told to assemble the elders of Israel and inform them that God was going to deliver them from Egypt. Moses was then to go to the king of Egypt with the elders. He was to tell the king “the Lord, the God of the Hebrews has met with us. (EXODUS 3:1 – 22)

God’s sign to Moses

 Moses was given several signs by God In case the people of Israel did not believe in him.

a) First sign was his staff turning into a snake when he threw it down. When he touched the snake’s tail it turned into his staff

b) Second sign was God asked Moses to put his hand inside his cloak and it was as white as a snow – leprous. He was asked to put it back into his cloak and it was restored.

c) Moses further complained that he was a stammerer. God then appoi-nted Aaron, his brother, as his spokesman.

Reasons Moses gave against the call

1. He felt unworthy of the call.

2. He wondered who he was to tell the Israelites that God had sent him

3. Moses said that he was a stammerer so he let God choose a spokesperson.

Moses however heeded to the call and went back to Egypt together with his family. God promised to be with him and perform signs before Phara-oh.

What does the name Moses mean?

It means drawn out of water.

What did Moses learn about God from his Calling?

Moses learnt that:

1. God is caring, merciful and concerned about the welfare of his people – Israelites.

2. God is transcendent – he is beyond human understanding. He cannot be limited to time and space.

3. God chooses whomever he wills to carry out his plans. He chose Abraham an old man, a moon worshipper and now Moses, a murderer, a fugitive and a stammerer.

4. God expects total obedience and faith from those that He chooses

5. God is powerful, eternal and omnipresent

6. God is holy.

7. God is a God of history, which means He is concerned with His people’s welfare.

8. God is mysterious – He manifested Himself in the burning bush that was not being consumed.

How did God prepare Moses to be the future leader of Israelites?

1. His life was spared when he was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter

2. He was nursed by his own mother who taught him about Yahweh and his own true identity

3. Life in the wilderness hardened him to be bold and to persevere hardships

4. He learnt to be patient, keen, and responsible as a shepherd

5. He acquired leadership skills while living at pharaoh’s palace

6. He learnt literacy and numeracy skills (Educational skills) at the palace.

7. He was not a stranger to Pharaoh hence he could approach him freely.

The Ten Plagues Exodus 7:14-11:10

During the call of Moses at Mount Sinai, God gave Moses a rod with which he could perform mighty signs before the Israelites and before Pharaoh.

Aaron was to be his spokesman. Moses and Aaron gathered the Israelite elders and leaders to tell them what God had said to them. After Moses had performed the miracles that God had showed him; the Israelite leaders believed him.

They then approached Pharaoh so that he may release the Israelites. However instead of releasing the Israelites, Pharaoh became crueler. He gave Israelites harder work.

When Pharaoh refused to release Israelites, God instructed Moses to bring ten plagues upon Egypt.

These plagues brought; great trouble and suffering to Israelites.

Ten plagues

1) The plague of blood (Exodus 7: 14 – 25)

Moses and Aaron used the rod. They struck the waters of the river as God instructed them. All the water in the rivers, canals, and pools in Egypt turned into blood.

All the fish died and there was no water to drink. This situation lasted for seven days. However Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He did not release the Israelites.

2) The plague of frogs (Exodus 8:1 – 15)

God then sent Moses to tell Pharaoh that if he refused to release the Israelites the whole land would be covered with frogs. At the command of Moses, Aaron held out the rod of Moses and frogs covered the whole land.

On seeing this, Pharaoh pleaded with Moses and Aaron to pray to the Lord to get rid of the frogs and he would release them. They prayed and all the frogs died. Pharaoh, however, changed his mind and refused to release the Israelites.

3) Plague of gnats (Exodus 8:16 – 19)

The lord instructed Moses to tell Aaron to strike the ground and Aaron did so and all the dust in Egypt turned into gnats or small flies that bites. The magicians of Egypt could perform the first two plagues.

They could not bring the plague of gnats. Egyptians acknowledged that the presence of gnats or small flies that bites was God’s work. But even with this information, Pharaoh still refused to release the Israelites.

4) Plague of flies (Exodus 8:20 – 32)

The Lord warned Pharaoh through Moses once more. He was told that God would send swarms of flies to the Egyptian houses. The Israelites houses would be spared. Even after bringing the plague of flies, Pharaoh’s heart hardened even more

5) Death of cattle (Exodus 8:1 – 7)

A plague of disease befell the Egyptian cattle. Not a single Israelites’ animal died. Pharaoh was not moved; and he refused to let Jews go home.

6) Plague of boils (Exodus 9:8 – 12)

Moses threw ashes into the air as God had instructed. This produced boils, which became open sores on the skin of the Egyptians. Unmoved by the suffering of his people, Pharaoh still refused to let the Israelites leave.

7) Plague of hail (Exodus 9:13 – 35)

Moses raised his rod and there was a hailstorm with lighting and thunder. The people, animals and plants that were struck by the lightning died. Pharaoh then promised to let the Israelites go but as soon as Moses prayed for the hailstorm to stop, pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the Israelites leave.

8)  Plague of Locusts (Exodus 19:1 – 20)

Locusts covered the whole land and ate all the crops in the fields. The locusts ate all that had not been destroyed by the hailstorm. When Moses prayed to God, for locusts to leave; Pharaoh hardened his heart and refu-sed to let the Israelites leave.

9) Plague of darkness (Exodus 10: 21 – 29)

God then instructed Moses to stretch out his hand to heaven. There was total darkness in Egypt for three days. But there was light where the Israe-lites they were living. Pharaoh remained unmoved and would not release the Israelites out of Egypt.

10) Death of Egyptian first-born males (Exodus 11: 1 – 31).

After the plague of darkness, God sent Moses once more to Pharaoh. He was told that this time even his family would be affected.

The Lord would kill all the first-born Egyptian sons and first-born male animals at mid-night. This plague occurred during the night of Passover. Pharaoh was moved and allowed Israelites to leave Egypt.

What do the plagues tell us about God’s attributes?


1. Empowers His people to perform miracles and to do His work

2. Is Almighty and more powerful than the Egyptian gods.

3. Is determined to fulfil His plans.

4. Is a God of justice. He protects the oppressed.

5. Gives everyone a chance to repent. Notice that each time Pharaoh promised to release the Israelites; God relieved the Egyptians from the plagues.

6. Fulfils His promises – He had promised Abraham to deliver his descen-dants from foreign lands.

7. Expects total obedience and faith.

8. Communicates His will through natural events.

9. Is caring and loving.

Passover (Exodus 12:1-30, 19, 20, 34)

The tenth plague is called the Passover. It happened on the fourteenth day of the month. The Israelites were to offer one-year-old lamb per family. If a family was too small, they were to share the lamb with their neighbours. If a lamb was not available, a one-year-old goat could also be used. They were told to:

1. Slaughter the lamb/goat; smear some of the blood on the sides and tops of the door- frames of their houses.

2. Roast the meat and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread (bread without yeast). If there were any leftovers they were to burn them with fire.

3. Eat in a hurry while fully dressed and having packed their belongings. They were told to borrow silver, clothings, jewellery, and gold from the Egyptians.

4. That on the same night, the ‘angel of death’ would kill every first born both males and animals in the houses without blood.

5. The angel of death would pass over the houses with blood sparing them. The blood was a sign to indicate this is a house of Israelites. When the Lord sees the blood, He will pass over that house (V.13)

6. The Israelites were told to celebrate / commemorate from generation to generation the Passover as a festival to the Lord.

7. The Israelites were not allowed to come out of their houses on the night of Passover.

8. At midnight, the Lord struck down all firstborn in Egypt from Phara-oh’s household to the firstborn of the prisoners and firstborn of livestock.

9. There was loud wailing over Egypt. Every house had someone dead.

Significance of items used during the Passover

1) Roasted Meat – this is the easiest method of preparing food since the Israelites were to leave in a short time.

2) Bitter herbs – was a reminder of the suffering and hardships and slavery experienced in Egypt.

3) Eating while standing. Deliverance was near, hence the need to leave in a hurry.

4) Eating while fully dressed with their stuff at hand. This signified a quick deliverance; hence Israelites should be ready to leave Egypt at once.

5) Eating unleavened bread – the bread was to be eaten and none left over hence there was no need to add yeast for preservation.

6) Collecting Jewellery – God had promised Abraham that after slavery for four hundred and thirty years, his descendants shall be freed with great possessions.

7) Remaining indoors – for security from death. Anyone outside was killed.

Blood on doorposts – a sign for deliverance. The angel of death would pass over doors with blood.

The Exodus journey

Exodus means movement of a large number of people.

Crossing the Red Sea

During the night of the Passover, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and told them to leave, to go and worship their Lord. All the Israelites, their flocks and herds were urged to leave in a hurry. Pharaoh took his chariot army and followed the Israelites and found them camped by the Red Sea.

God led the Israelites over the desert towards the Red Sea. Moses took the body (bones) of Joseph, as Joseph had requested the Israelites to do. “When God rescues you, you must carry my body with you from this place” (Ex 13 vs. 19)

During the day the Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud (angel of God) to show them the way, and during the night the lord went in front in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel night and day. This pillar of cloud led the Israelites by day and night.

The Egyptian army followed Israelites and caught up with them by the Red Sea where they had camped.

Moses asked the scared Israelites to move near the sea.

God told Moses to lift up his stick, and hold it over the sea. The waters of the Red Sea divided and the Israelites crossed the sea on dry ground with walls of water on both sides.

The angel of God, and the pillar of cloud (who had been in front of the army of Israel) moved behind the Israelites and provided light to them as they cross.

The Egyptians army pursued Israelites. The pillar of cloud made it dark for Egyptians who could not see where they were going. Just before daylight, the Lord looked at the Egyptians from the pillar of cloud and fire and God threw the army of the Egyptians into confusion. Moses was asked by the Lord to stretch out his hand. He did so and waters returned to its normal level drowning Egyptian army and their horses.

God protected the Israelites during the Exodus by:

1) Making them cross the red sea on dry ground.

2) Providing water in the wilderness.

3) Providing manna and quails.

4) Defeating Amalekites – their enemies.

5) Protecting them from snakes and diseases in the wilderness.

Provision of water in the wilderness

Israelites travelled in the desert for three days without water. The water, which they found at Marah was bitter and could not be drunk. They called the place ‘Marah’ meaning ‘bitter’. This made them complain. Moses prayed to the Lord.

The Lord showed Moses a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water and it became fit to drink. God continued providing Israelites with water.

Again the Israelites lacked water and complained bitterly (Ex.17:1 – 9). God instructed Moses to strike a rock and water came out of it. Moses called that place ‘Massah’ – which means ‘testing ‘and ‘Meribah’ – meaning ‘rebellion’. This was because the Israelites quarreled and tested God.

Provision of manna and quails (EX 16:1 – 35)

As the Israelites were travelling through the desert, they ran out of food. They were hungry and complained to Moses. Their complaints displeased the Lord for they often told Moses they wished he had let them die in Egypt instead of dying in the wilderness. This showed that the Israelites did not trust God to provide for them.

In the morning, they were given Manna, which is a Hebrew word for the type of bread given to Israelites by God. The bread looked like wafers or flakes and tasted like coriander seed.

In the evening, GOD provided Israelites with quail’s meat. The provision of manna and quails (meat) lasted for 40 years.

On the 6th day of each week, God gave them food for two days one for the 6th day and the other for the 7th day (Sabbath).

Defeat OF THE AMALEKITES (Exodus 17: 8 – 16)

Challenges faced by the Israelites during the Exodus

During the Exodus, the Israelites faced the challenge of the Amalekites. These were desert Nomads who attacked the Israelites in the wilderness. When the Amalekite army came against Israelites, Moses ordered Joshua to gather men and fight.

God promised to destroy the Amalekites forever. During the battle, Moses held up his rod. And each time he raised his hands with the rod, the Amalekites were defeated. When he brought his hands down, the Israe-lites were defeated. Because of this, Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ hands until the Amalekites were defeated.

In the wilderness God protected the Israelites form snakebites. He also used a cloud to protect the Israelites from the scorching heat during the day. At night, the pillar of fire provided warmth to protect them from the harsh cold of the wilderness.

The importance of the exodus in the history of the Israelites

The exodus showed Israelites that:

1) God loves and tolerates His people.

2) God did not abandon the Israelites despite their lack of faith.

3) God gave the Israelites encouragement through his servant Moses.

4) It was the end of the oppression of Israelites in Egypt.

5) Moses was God’s chosen leader.

Making the Sinai Covenant (Exodus 19: 24 1 –

The Sinai covenant

God and Israelites. God had specific instructions on how the Israelites were to prepare to make the new covenant. Before making the covenant, God brought Israelites to the foot of Mt. Sinai and asked Moses to ask them if they were willing to make the covenant with HIM.

GOD asked them to enter into a personal relationship as a community with HIM. The Israelites agreed to make a covenant. They agreed to obey all God’s com-m.ands. God then promised to make them;

i His people

ii. A kingdom of priests

iii. A holy nation

God and Moses. God wanted to confirm that Moses was His true pro-phet. He therefore told Moses that He would come in a thick cloud to meet Israelites. In preparation for God’s coming on Mt. Sinai the

Israelites were to:

I. Make themselves holy by washing their clothes (garments)

II. Mark the boundaries on the foot of the mountain to prevent any person or animal from climbing the mountain.

III. To abstain from sexual relations

At Mt Sinai, God manifested His presence in the form of thunder, lightening, earthquake and a thick cloud of smoke that covered the whole mountain. In addition, there was a loud trumpet blast that made the people tremble. Moses climbed the mountain. God gave Moses the Ten Comma-ndments after sealing the covenant.

Sealing of the covenant. The Lord told Moses “Come up the mountain to me, you and Aaron, Nadab, Abibu and 70 of Israel leaders. At a distance bow down in worship, and come alone to me.”

A ceremony was then prepared to seal the covenant. This is how it was sealed:

a. Moses built an altar at the foot of the mountain.

b. He set up twelve stones, which represented the twelve tribes of Israel.

c. He then sent young men to burn sacrifices to the Lord and sacrificed some cattle as fellowship offering and peace offerings to God (EX 24 vs. 5).

d. Moses took half the blood of animals and poured it in bowls; and the other half he threw against the altar (vs. 6). He then took the book of the covenant, and read it aloud to the Israelites who responded by saying “all that the Lord has spoken we will do; and we shall be obedient”

e. Moses then took the blood in the bowls and sprinkled it over the people; saying “This is the blood that seals the covenant which the Lord made with you when he gave all these commands.”

Theophany. God’s presence manifested itself in several ways such as:

The burning bush (during the call of Moses)

Pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud – Exodus story

The mighty wind, earthquake, still small voice – story of Elijah

Thunder, lighting, smoking mountain – Exodus of Israelites from the wilderness

These were physical manifestations of God’s presence.

Breaking the Sinai Covenant (Exodus 32:1 – 35; 34:6 –8)

Israelites dishonored their pledge to obey God upon sealing the covenant; Moses went back to talk to God in the mountain. He left Aaron in charge of Israelites’ affairs.

He stayed in the mountain for forty days. The lord revealed His glory to Moses at Mt. Sinai and declared His character. ”The Lord the compassionate and glorious God, slow to anger and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin (Ex 34:6 –

The Israelites urged Aaron to make them gods that they could see. Aaron agreed. He melted the rings of gold and moulded a bull calf god. Israelites were happy and said “this is our god who took us out of Egypt”.

They offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to it and indulged themselves in eating, drinking and sex. By accepting a bull calf as their god, the Israelites expected bull calf of gold to give them the same strength and fertility like the Egyptian gods. Through this act, they broke their covenant with God.

When Moses came down from the mountain, he found Israelites worshipping the gold bull calf. He got annoyed. He threw down the stone tablets he was holding; on which the 10 commandments were written.

Moses then took the golden calf, and burnt it into powder and mixed it with water. He then made those worshipping the calf to drink the mixture. Moses ordered those who had sinned to be killed.