The contrast between the meeting with God at Sinai (19:17ff) and the previous deliverances including the exodus is deliberate (20:2).
In hearing about the preparation "to meet God" (19:17), in particular, about the sounds and sights surrounding that morning (19:16), we should remember that we Americans are a jaded people, served up with images for our entertainment consisting of the fictions of the cinema and the human imagination. It is very hard to enter into the depiction of the sounds and sights without comparing it to that which has been served to us as entertainment.
One thing that helps is to constantly remember that this is NOT being presented for entertainment. Curiosity, a draw of entertainment, is explicitly warned against (19:12,21). Entertainment is also completely foreign to the preparation demanded (19:10,15).
God answering Moses! (19:19): no images can convey the content of that discussion. The spatial language is also very deliberate: "the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up." God's initiative is evident in the granting of the time of approach.
Why does the narrative immediately go to words of God about the people, the first directly quoted as His words on Sinai after God "descended upon it" (19:18)? Perhaps because the object of God's dealings with Moses was not a secret knowledge for Moses, but to have something for the people. The first words of God directly quoted are a testimony (19:21) to the concern for people that they won't die. This is often overlooked.
Other details that contribute to this concern for the well-being of the people are the previous day's words of God to Moses in 19:3-8. The words are for the people. God's own explanation for the event of the next day is "so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever." (19:9). Hmm. The last phrase has a somewhat contemporary application, doesn't it?
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