Before Sinai the sacred principles of God's law were handed down from one generation of faithful believers to the next. Israel observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment before God gave the written version of His law to Moses. (See Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 16:4, 5, 23-30.) The principles they were asked to live by prior to their arrival at Sinai were the eternal principles of the Ten Commandments.
As slaves in Egypt the children of Israel had to a considerable degree forgotten the standard of righteousness that the Lord had given to humanity at Creation. To dramatize His love for them, and to teach them the sacredness of His requirements, the Lord proclaimed His law in their hearing from Mt. Sinai.
Briefly describe the circumstances under which the law was proclaimed at Sinai. Exod. 19:16-20; Exod. 20:1, 18-21.
The prophets wrote their inspired messages in their own languages and literary styles. But the Ten Commandments were spoken and written by God Himself (Exod. 24:12-14). Unlike the ceremonial laws, the Ten Commandments have timeless application to the human situation. God spoke and wrote this law to dramatize the eternal significance of its principles.
Where were the tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments placed? Exod. 25:16.
Why is revival of obedience to this law so important to end-time humanity? Dan. 8:14; Heb. 9:7; Rev. 11:19.
The ark of the covenant was made of acacia wood. It was approximately 4 feet 4 inches long and 2 feet 7 inches wide and high. It was overlaid with gold within and without. The "testimony," which was God's law written on tables of stone, was placed inside the ark. Hence, the ark was called the "ark of the testimony," and the sanctuary was called "the tabernacle of testimony." (See Exod. 38:21.)
On the Day of Atonement blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat that covered the ark of the testimony (Lev. 16:15). Because God's mercy is united with His justice, He is able, by virtue of Christ's sacrifice, to forgive sin and blot out the record of pardoned sin. Adventists have identified the antitypical Day of Atonement in the books of Daniel and Revelation. They have shown from the Bible that God's law contained in the heavenly "ark of his testament" is the standard of the final judgment (Rev. 11:19).