Now that Moses had led God’s people through the parted Red Sea, the Israelites celebrate—fearing the Lord and believing in Moses. But soon, they complain against Moses and Aaron, grumble from thirst and hunger, and doubt why they left Egypt. Even though God provided for them, they continue to protest. But God reassures Moses and teaches him what he needs to learn about leadership through Jethro, his father-in-law. Jethro convinces him to choose trustworthy men (elders) to oversee smaller squabbles while Moses represents the people before God.
At that time, Israel is camped in front of Mount Sinai. God calls Moses to the mountaintop and reveals to him the covenant He is prepared to enter with His people, one that would set them apart as “a holy nation.” Moses takes this message back down to the elders, who agree to do all that the Lord commands.
So, Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive the Law they are to follow. He remains there for 40 days and 40 nights. During this time, God also provides instructions on building the Tabernacle of the Covenant, the altar of burnt offering, the altar of incense, a courtyard for the tabernacle, and the perpetual lamps, preparing priestly garments, and consecrating the priests.
But while Moses is on the mountaintop, the Israelites form an idol of gold in the form of a calf, sacrifice burnt offerings before it, and indulge in revelry. Moses carries God’s commandments down to the people and sees their sin. Do you know what Moses does next? What great price would that generation of Israelites pay for their sin? And what hefty price did Moses pay for his?