Almost three years ago I wrote a lesson about Moses at Mount Sinai and discussed the numerous times Moses ascended that mountain. (Moses on Mount Sinai) I stated that Moses went up the mountain to meet the Lord eight times. In my studies of that event I have come to the conclusion that Moses met the Lord on Mount Sinai seven times.
This makes more sense to me because the seven ascents create a Menorah Design, (please click HERE) complete with a special event in the Servant Lamp position. The disparity of my thought was caused by my understanding of the story in Exodus 20:1-21. This is the account of the giving of the Law. The Lord made His presence known in a dramatic way and spoke the Ten Commandments to each of the Children of Israel.
When this had occurred, the Israelites remained at a distance and Moses approached the dark cloud where the presence of the Lord was. Here I assumed, which is always a mistake, that the dark cloud was on the heights of the mountain. Scripture does not say so. For further information I read the account of the event as given by the historian Josephus. The history given by this Jew who lived about the time that Jesus was on earth is clearly not Scripture, but he does give us some interesting insights.
Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, Chapter 5, says that the dark cloud spread itself over the entire encampment of the Children of Israel. “This sight, and the amazing sound that came to their ears, disturbed the Hebrews to a prodigious degree.” Josephus tells us that Moses then brought the Israelites close to the mountain.
This all indicates that the presence of the Lord was in the cloud at the base of the mountain, and when Moses approached the thick darkness he did not have to ascend the mountain. (Exodus 20:21)
Here are the revised ascents of Moses up Mount Sinai:
1) - The Children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai on the first day of the third month of the Hebrew calendar, Sivan, just a few days before Pentecost. The Lord called Moses to the mountain and told him that the Children of Israel would be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:3) Moses returned to the people. They answered that they would do all that the Lord had spoken.
2) - Moses returned to the mountain to bring back the words of the people. (Exodus 19:8) The Lord told Moses that He would speak to the people on the third day, and that they must consecrate themselves for the event.
3) - The Lord came down to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to Him. He was told again to warn the people about getting too close to the mountain. (Exodus 19:20) Moses again returned to the people to give them the warning.
4) - The next time Moses went up the mountain is very unique and interesting. This is the Servant Lamp position of the Menorah Design. This position always refers to the Lord, His throne, light (God is light) or fire (fire creates light). The Lord told Moses to bring up Aaron, his two sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 24:9) These men saw the Lord in Heaven. And yet they lived! (Scripture says that they ate and drank, or in other words, they continued to live.) This party of seventy-four people then returned to the camp.
5) - Again, the Lord called Moses and Joshua to the mountain to receive instructions for the making of the tabernacle and priestly garments, and the consecration of the priests. (Exodus 24:12) After giving the instructions, the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments written by His own hand on tablets of stone. It was during this ascent that Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights, and the Israelites made the Golden Calf. When he descended from the mountain, Moses was so angry that he threw down the Tablets of Stone and smashed them!
6) - After destroying the Golden Calf and exacting retribution against the people, Moses told them that he would go to the Lord and try to make atonement for their great sin. So Moses again ascended the mountain. (Exodus 232:31) It was at this time that Moses offered himself in place of the people. Here, Moses was a type of Jesus, who offered himself in our stead.
7) - Finally, the Lord told Moses to go up on the mountain where Moses might see the presence of the Lord. He was also told to bring up two stone tablets to replace the ones he broke. (Exodus 34:2) And again, Moses spent forty days and forty nights on the mountain.
The Jews, who do not accept the New Testament of course, consider the five Books of Moses to be the Bible. The other books of prophecy and prose are the Word of God, but just not as important as the Torah or Pentateuch. And no wonder. There is so much information in these first five books of the Bible. Praise the Lord for His Holy Word!