This section records Moses’ reminder about God’s covenant with Israel and the Ten Commandments.
Clear covenant at Horeb (5:1-3) – This is one of the most plain biblical affirmations that the covenant made at Sinai/Horeb was between two parties: God and Israel. “And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: ‘Hear, O Israel . . . The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb . . .’” (5:1,2). At Horeb, Moses stood as a mediator “between the LORD and you” – the Israelites (5:5). The Law of Moses was given only to Israel and never was intended to be a universal law for all nations.
Ten Commandments (5:7-21) – They are recorded in their entirety in only two Bible chapters: Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20. In what manner did Jehovah provide the Ten Commandments for Israel? He first gave them in oral form: “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly” (5:22). He later gave them in written form: “And He wrote them on two tables of stone . . .” (5:22). The Ten Commands set forth great principles for the Israelite nation. Do not forget that they were only one portion of the entire Law of Moses, which included 600-plus instructions.
Sabbath significance – “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (5:15). Again, the context shows that this statement was made to Israel (5:1-3). So, what was the special meaning of the Sabbath for Israel? It was a memorial – a weekly reminder that the Lord had delivered them from Egyptian bondage. Such a charge and remembrance never did apply to a non- Israelite person.
Tell us all that God says – After Jehovah spoke to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, they were frightened by His voice and asked Moses to step in to receive and relay to them future communications from God (5:23-26). The people expressed a wonderful thought: “You go near and hear all that the LORD our God may say, and tell us all the LORD our God says to you, and we will hear and do it” (5:27). You and I need to have the same attitude: to learn what God says, to learn all that He says, and then be ready to submit to what He says.
A certain kind of heart – After the Israelites had pledged their commitment to do whatever the Lord commanded them, He said, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments . . .” (5:29). Showing reverence for God and obeying His will is man’s basic duty in life in each generation (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
— Roger D. Campbell