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After crossing the Red Sea, the people walk in the direction of Sinai. They run out of both food and water along the way, and God miraculously provides both. They are also attacked by the nation of Amalek. When Moses has his hands up, the people of Israel win; when his hands are down, they lose. This provides clear evidence that God is really the one determining who wins and not their own strength. When they arrive at Mount Sinai, God points out the ways he has protected them and asks them if they are willing to enter a covenant, or binding agreement, with him to obey his commands. They agree to do as God says.

Our chapter today gives the Ten Commandments that serve as the basis for the relationship between God and the people of Israel. Israel responds to God’s presence with fear.

It’s easy to fall into the same trap as Israel. God asked them to obey him because of how he had cared for them, but instead they become afraid of God. It’s wise to realize that when we disobey God, we could face dire consequences, but we need to also see his loving care for us. God much prefers obedience based on gratitude.