There are several chiastic structures in these two chapters, but let’s look at this one:
1A: Exo 19:3a, Moses went up to God;
1B: Exo 19:3b, Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob;
CENTRAL AXIS: Exo 19:4-6a, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation;”
2B: Exo 19:6b, These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel;
2A: Exo 19:7a, Moses went down to the elders of the people.
The central axis reveals why the LORD delivered Israel from Egypt (besides the honor of His name, YHVH). Remember, following the rebellion of the seventy nations at Babel, that God called out Abraham, to make of him one nation which would serve and worship YHVH? And now that one nation, which sprang from Abraham through the Promised Seed, is being birthed as a nation at Mount Sinai, to be a holy nation in the earth, in the face of all the other unholy nations. God here reveals that His holy nation of Israel, His special treasure, will be a kingdom of priests (in other words, mediators between God and men) – as they learn YHVH’s commandments and ways, which He is beginning to teach them, and walk in them!
We are taught in the New Testament, that the Passover is the shadow of our redemption that Yeshua our Passover Lamb accomplished for us; that Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is a type of our deliverance from the kingdom of darkness. That is salvation! God saved Israel without any reference to laws, law keeping, and obedience, but by grace through faith!
But now that Israel has been redeemed, in the past few chapters, God has begun teaching them what His commandments and His ways were, that He desired them to keep. Exo 16 introduced the Sabbath rest. Exo 18:20 introduced, through the advice of Jethro to Moses, that Moses is to teach YHVH’s statutes and laws, so that the people will know the way in which they must walk! And now in today’s reading, YHVH gives Moses the Ten Commandments.
Israel was not delivered from slavery in Egypt to just be free agents and do whatever they want and live however they will. God delivered Israel from the service of Pharaoh, to His own service (Exo 4:22-23). He desired Israel to obey His voice, which is keeping His covenant. Israel did not enter His covenant by obedience, but by grace; and yet obedience is a result of covenant status.
In the same way, we have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness, not to our own service, but to the LORD’s. He desires us to obey His voice, which is keeping His covenant. We did not enter into covenant by obedience — that is, by the works of the law so often spoken of by Paul in the New Testament. But once we are in covenant, we are to keep His covenant (i.e., we are to obey His voice, through which He voiced His commandments). He is to be, not just Savior and Deliverer, but also King and Lord.
For further study: Mark God’s paragraph divisions for these two chapters. They are not divided as we would expect. What is Scripture teaching us by creating this puzzle for us to solve? Also, there are numerous overlapping chiastic structures in Exo 19. Can you find any of them? Why does God place neon flashing lights around these central axis’?
Finding Messiah: In the third month Israel came to Sinai. On the third day. Israel was to prepare to meet YHVH. In fact, being prepared to meet with YHVH on the third day is mentioned three times in Exo 19:11-16! Three is a sign of Messiah in Scripture. We have been taught to think that the covenant YHVH made with Israel at Sinai is the opposite of the covenant YHVH made with us at Calvary. Here, Scripture is teaching us, that this covenant prophesies of Messiah and reveals Messiah!
Earlier in Exodus, Scripture showed us that Moses was a type of Messiah. In Exo 19, notice how many times Moses went up to God, and went down to the people – back and forth, back and forth. Repetition is a teaching tool of Scripture. Moses is mediating between God and Israel, just as Messiah is the one Mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5).
Notice also what Scripture says:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.” Exo 19:10
So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. Exo 19:14
Moses (as a type of Messiah) consecrated and sanctified the people – they did not consecrate and sanctify themselves by their own works.
For further reading:
Marriage through Hebrew Eyes (that the Sinai Covenant was a marriage covenant between God and Israel)
What are the Ten Commandments of the Marriage Covenant? – Samuele Bacchiocchi
Hebrew mountain top meaning of “special treasure” (2009)
The Design of Scripture: The Number Ten (Brad Scott)