Exodus 24; 31-34: “My Presence Shall Go with Thee” (April 25-May 1)

Moses with the Tablets,” detail from a stained glass window in the Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Seattle Washington

What an unforgettable experience Israel had at Mount Sinai, near the beginning of their journey to the promised land! Like Nephi in the land of Bountiful, Moses ascended the mountain multiple times to receive knowledge from God on their behalf. (See Exodus 19:3, 20, Exodus 24:12-18, Exodus 34:4-5, 1 Nephi 17:7, 1 Nephi 18:3.) They received instructions about their behavior (Exodus 20-23) and also about how to worship and draw closer to God (Exodus 25-31). They made covenants to obey God’s laws (Exodus 24), broke those covenants (Exodus 32), and after Moses pleaded with God on their behalf (Exodus 33), they received a new set of instructions to help them get back on track (Exodus 34:1-2, Joseph Smith Translation). The overarching message to Israel from Mount Sinai is that God is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).

As Moses descended from the mountain with the second set of tablets, his face shone, just as Abinadi’s did as he taught King Noah and his priests (Exodus 34:29-35, Mosiah 13:5-6). The people were frightened to approach him, so Moses wore a veil over his face as he taught the people. The apostle Paul considered that veil to be a metaphor for our unwillingness to fully receive knowledge from God. (See 2 Corinthians 3:12-16.) Twice in the Book of Mormon, we read that we need to remove the “veil of unbelief” which covers our mind and heart and prevents us from fully receiving God’s light. Here is a blog post on that topic: That Veil of Unbelief – Ether 4:15.

Here are some other lessons I’ve learned from these chapters, with relevant blog posts:

Blog Posts: April 26-May 1

With One Voice

After Moses relayed to his people all of the laws which God had revealed to him on Mount Sinai, they responded “with one voice:” “All the words which the Lord hath said will we do” (Exodus 24:3). Years later, the people of King Benjamin responded to his final sermon with a longer declaration. Once again, we are…

Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu

When I think of Moses ascending Mount Sinai, I always envision him alone. So I’ve been struck recently by these descriptions of him ascending the mountain with other people: “And the Lord said unto him,… thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee” (Exodus 19:24).”And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab,…

“A Sign Between Me and You”

One way God communicates with us is through signs. We may not see Him, but we recognize things that happen as evidence that He is mindful of us. On some occasions, those signs have been dramatic and unmistakeable, such as the plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7-12), or the signs of the Savior’s birth and death…

Fasting: How Long and How Often?

Moses fasted for 40 days. Twice. Let me say up front that I’m not recommending that. In the book of Exodus we read that Moses spent 40 days with the Lord on Mount Sinai, where he received stone tablets with the law inscribed by the finger of God (Exodus 24:18, Exodus 31:18). After destroying those…

“Up, Make Us Gods”

Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.Isaiah 2:8, 2 Nephi 12:8 When Moses delayed coming down from Mount Sinai, the Israelites became restless. Turning to Moses’ second in command, Aaron, they demanded that he create idols for them to worship, following the pattern…

Moses Besought the Lord

Some of the work of a leader is done out of sight, away from the people he or she leads. Even before Moses descended from Sinai and saw the golden calf, he had an opportunity to advocate on behalf of his people. The Lord told him what was happening at the bottom of the mountain:…

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