What happened at Mount Sinai in the Bible?
What didn’t happen at Mount Sinai in the Bible? Much of the Old Testament is tied up at Mount Sinai. The first time we hear of the mountain is when God rescues the Israelites from Egypt and sends them into the wilderness.
Just three days later they meet at Mount Sinai with the living God. He comes down on the mountain and all of his glory and presence (Exodus 19:16-19). No one could have imagined what it was like to be in the presence of God at that moment.
All that we really hear about it is that it is so fearful and dangerous that no one could touch the mountain. They would instantly die. We also learn that the Israelites were so frightened by what they saw on the mountain and heard from the booming voice of God in the thunder that they elected Moses to go up and talk with God and tell them what he said, and then out of fear they said they would do whatever he said.
It was on Mount Sinai that God gave all of his commandments, first audibly to the people, and then to Moses. On this mountain two sets of the tablets of the Ten Commandments were carved out, first by Moses himself, and then by God.
Just a bit later on Mount Sinai, Moses got to see God in his full glory and presence. He had asked God to show him his glory (Exodus 33). At the beginning of Exodus 34, Moses goes up to the mountain to see the full glory and presence of God.
God tells him if anyone sees him in his full glory, the front of him, he would immediately die. So that allows him to see his back as he is leaving the mountain. What an incredible encounter that must have been!
Moses saw God’s power in all of the signs and wonders he had done up to that point, but it only made him hungry to see the actual presence and glory of God. And he is the only person who got to see it.
One of the other most poignant times in the Bible are Mount Sinai is involved is when Elijah the prophet ran from Jezebel because she threatened him after he won the battle against the profits of Baal on Mount Caramel (1 Kings 19).
Because Elijah thought he was the only profit serving God left in all of Israel, he fled into the wilderness to preserve his own life. But because of his great depression after such a spiritual victory, once he got into the wilderness he asked God to let him die.
Instead, God nurtured him back to health and sent an angel to take care of him. After he had regained his strength, God called him to come and speak with him on Mount Sinai. This is where Elijah hit himself in a cleft of the rock to wait on God’s presence to arrive.
He experienced three different manifestations that usually accompany the presence of God. The first was a great wind that split the rocks apart, the second an earthquake, and the third fire (1 Kings 19:11-13). Elijah did not come out from the cleft of the rock until he heard the still small voice of God. That is when he knew that God’s presence had finally arrived.
Some of the most extraordinary moments with God happened on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament. It seems to be the place where God met with Israel and the leaders of Israel. It was a place reserved for his presence to come in power and glory. It is not the only mountain that speaks of God’s presence coming down in the Bible, but it is the most memorable.