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            Moses continued to lead the people of Israel away from the Red Sea. After a month, the people came to the Sinai desert. There they complained to Moses and Aaron. They said, "It would be better for us if the Lord had killed us in the land of Egypt. In Egypt we had plenty to eat. But now you have brought us into the desert. All of us will die of hunger here."

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             Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will cause food to fall from the sky. At night you will eat meat. And every morning you will eat all the bread you want. Then you will know you can trust the Lord your God."

            That night, quail came all around the camp. The people caught these birds for meat. And, every morning, dew lay on the ground near the camp. After the sun came up and the dew melted, something like thin flakes of frost was on the ground. The people of Israel asked each other, "What is that?" Moses told them, "This is the food the Lord is giving you to eat." So the people began calling the special food "manna." (The Hebrew word "manna" means "What is that?") 

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            The people of Israel came to a mountain called Sinai and camped in the desert near the mountain. Then Moses went up to the mountain of God. While Moses was there, God said to him, "Tell these things to the people of Israel, `I carried you out of Egypt like an eagle and brought you here to me. Obey my words and you will be my own special people.'"

            So Moses came down from the mountain and called the elders together. He told them all the things the Lord had commanded. All the people said, "We will obey everything the Lord says."


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             Three mornings later, there was thunder and lightning on the mountain. A thick cloud came down on the mountain, and there was a very loud sound like the sound of a trumpet. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke. Smoke rose off the mountain like smoke from a furnace. The Lord came down to the mountain in fire and the whole mountain began to shake. The noise of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with a voice like thunder. 

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            God said, "I am the Lord your God. I led you out of the land of Egypt when you were slaves. So, you must obey these Ten Commandments: (1) You must not worship any other gods. (2) You must not make any statues of false gods that people worship. (3) You must not use the name of the Lord your God in the wrong way. (4) Remember to keep the Sabbath a special day. (5) Honor your father and your mother. (6) You must not murder anyone. (7) You must not do the sin of adultery. (8) You must not steal anything. (9) You must not tell lies about other people. (10) You must not want to take your neighbor's house, or your neighbor's wife, or anything that belongs to another person." 

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            The people at the base of the mountain heard the thundering and saw the lightning on the mountain. The people shook with fear. Then the people said to Moses, "Please don't let God speak to us, or we will die."

            Then Moses said to the people, "Don't be afraid! The Lord has come to prove that he loves you. And he has come to test you. He wants you to respect him so that you will not sin."

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            Moses went to the dark cloud where God was. Then the Lord gave Moses many other laws. God told Moses how to build a Holy Tent as a place of worship, how to make special clothes for the priests, how to make special oil for anointing the priests and special incense for burning in the Holy Tent, and how to offer sacrifices on special days. Finally, God gave Moses two flat stones with the Ten Commandments on them.

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             Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. After Moses had been gone a long time, the people said to Aaron, "Look, we don't know what has happened to Moses. So make us some gods to go before us and lead us."

            Aaron said to the people, "Bring me the gold earrings that belong to your wives, sons, and daughters." So all the people gathered their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. Aaron took the gold from the people and used it to make a statue of a calf. The people said, "Israel, these are the gods that led you out of Egypt." Aaron built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow will be a special feast to honor the Lord."

            The people woke up very early the next morning. They killed animals and offered them as burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up and had a wild party, with drunkenness and sexual sin. 

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             When Moses came down the mountain, he heard music. He saw the golden calf, and he saw the people dancing. Moses became very angry. Moses destroyed the calf that the people had made. He melted it with fire. He ground the gold until it became dust. Then he threw the dust in the water and forced the people to drink the water.

            Moses stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Any person who wants to follow the Lord should come to me." All the people from the family of Levi ran to Moses. Then Moses said to them, "Every man must get his sword and go from one end of the camp to the other. You must punish those who are against God."

            Some of the people from the family of Levi obeyed Moses and that day about 3,000 of the people of Israel died. God's anger burned against idolatry.  

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             For forty years Moses led the people of Israel in the Sinai wilderness. The Lord spoke to Moses face to face like a man speaks to his friend. Yet, Moses made one serious mistake. At Kadesh there was not enough water for the people. So the people met to complain against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us into this desert? Do you want us and our animals to die?" Moses became very angry with the people.

            The Lord said to Moses, "Take your brother Aaron and the crowd of people and go to that rock. Speak to the rock in front of the people. Then water will flow from the rock." 

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            Moses and Aaron told the people to meet in front of the rock. Moses said, "You people are always complaining. Now listen to me. I will cause water to flow from this rock." Then Moses lifted his walking stick and hit the rock twice. Water began flowing from the rock.

            But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "You did not show me honor. You did not show the people that the power to make the water came from me or that you trusted in me. Therefore, you will not lead these people into the land that I have promised them."

            Moses begged God to change his mind, but he would not. In this way, God showed that everyone, small and great, must obey him. 

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             Toward the end of his life, Moses called the people of Israel together and said, "The Lord your God will send you a prophet. This prophet will come from among your own people. He will be like me. You must listen to this prophet. The Lord said to me, `I will send them a prophet like you. I will tell him the things he must say, and he will tell the people everything I command. This prophet will speak for me.'"

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 Finally, Moses climbed Mount Nebo which was across the Jordan River from Jericho. From there the Lord showed him the Promised Land. The Lord said, "This is the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have let you see the land."

            Then Moses, the Lord's servant, died there in the land of Moab. Moses was 120 years old when he died. He was as strong as ever, and his eyes were still good. The people of Israel cried for Moses for thirty days and stayed in the Jordan Valley until the time of sadness was finished. 

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             1. God provides for his people. God has not promised to make his people rich, powerful, or famous, but he has promised to take care of our basic needs.

            Without God's help it would have been impossible for so many Israelites and their animals to live in the desert for forty years. There was not enough food or water there. Yet, God gave them meat, manna, and water to keep them alive. The people of Israel complained, but they owed their lives to God. 

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            2. God is an awesome God. The people of Israel shook with fear when they saw the glory of God and heard him speak with a voice like thunder. Yet, Moses said to the people, "Don't be afraid! The Lord has come to prove that he loves you. He has come to test you. He wants you to respect him so that you will not sin."

            God knows that sin can ruin our lives and even kill us. He shows us his power and speaks to us with authority so that we will listen to his warnings. He wants us to respect him so that we will not sin. God loves us and does not want us to get hurt. 

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3. God does not allow for the worship of other gods. God made an agreement with the people of Israel. The Ten Commandments were ten rules that God considered important. These two commandments stood at the top of the list: (1) You must not worship any other gods. (2) You must not make any statues of false gods that people worship. Don't worship or serve idols of any kind because I am your God.

            God is still the same today. He loves everybody everywhere, and he wants everyone to love him. He is calling all people. He is saying, "Come to me." Yet he will not be one of several gods. He will not even be the first of several gods. He is the only true and living God. All other gods are useless and lifeless idols. He wants us to worship him only. 

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             4. A prophet like Moses is coming. God promised to send to Israel a prophet like Moses. God would tell him what to say, and he would speak with the authority of God. People would listen to the prophet and obey his commands.

            More than 1,200 years later, the prophet like Moses was born.

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          Scripture References: Exodus 15-40; Numbers 20: 1-12; Deuteronomy 18 and 34.

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