7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. (Exodus 19:7–8)
When the children of Israel chose to enter into the Law covenant with God, was this a fully informed decision about what the Law would be like based solely upon what Exodus 19:4–6 records that God said to them? Or did they make their decision on more information than that?
First off my understanding is that when verse 7 states that Moses “laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him,” that this refers specifically to the words that the LORD commanded Moses in verses 3–6 to say to them. When the LORD ended His charge to Moses in verse 6 by saying, “These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel,” this underscores that Moses was to speak these specific words to them; nothing more, nothing less. Wherefore I take verse 7 to be saying that when Moses called “the elders of the people” and “laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him,” that he gave the elders the LORD’s specific words of verses 4–6 precisely and in such a way in order to ensure that they would in turn give those exact same specific words to “all the people.” Hence I am persuaded from what it says that the specific words of verses 4–6 are the issue.
However there is something to what you say about them having ‘more information.’ But it occurs a bit later after the people responded to the LORD’s words of 19:4–6 by saying, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do”; and after “Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.”
As the rest of chapter 19 and following goes on to relate, God did not immediately confirm the Law covenant on the people. Though they had rejected being dealt with solely by God’s “Jehovah-ness” and grace, and had made that decision knowingly and with their ‘eyes open,’ God did something significant before actually confirming the covenant upon them and ‘locking them in,’ so to speak, to the foolishness of their hearts. He mercifully gave them the opportunity to see the foolishness of what they had decided, and to reconsider it, before the covenant became binding upon them. God did this purely on the basis of His “Jehovah-ness” and grace. For, (just as His “Jehovah-ness” declares about Him), He is “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious,…” And being “merciful and gracious” He gave them this opportunity. This is what the rest of chapter 19 through the end of chapter 23 sets forth.
Wherefore as the rest of chapter 19 through the end of chapter 23 relate, God not only showed Israel what dealing with Him on the basis of their foolish decision would be like, He also gave them the “tenor” of the Law covenant in the ten commandments, along with a specific and telling condensation of the “judgments” the covenant contains. Moreover God also warned them about dealing with His “Angel,” whom they had better not “provoke.” All of this God mercifully set before Israel before the actual confirming of the covenant took place.
Once this was done, as chapter 24 relates, God prepared them for the actual confirming of the covenant. And in accordance with the mercy of His “Jehovah-ness” God gave them two more opportunities to ‘back out,’ so to speak, before the covenant became binding on them. However they remained steadfast in their original decision. They refused to ‘circumcise the foreskin of their heart.’ Hence ‘in the mouth of the two or three witnesses’ of their own testimony, the word was confirmed. The covenant therefore was confirmed upon them, and they were bound to it and its consequences.
So even though their original decision of Exodus 19:8 in response to the specific words of 19:4–6 was made knowingly, and was enough to bind the covenant upon them in view of the education that God had given to them during the previous three months, the LORD mercifully gave them the opportunity to reconsider and repent of that decision. It is during the time of Exodus 19:10–23:33 that God gave them ‘more information’ about the foolishness of their decision, and mercifully tried to ‘lead them to repentance.’ But they were impenitent.
So then the details of Exodus 19:10–23:33 are what need to be studied when it comes to understanding and appreciating the ‘fully informed’ decision that Israel made when they rejected the issue of God dealing with them on the basis of His “Jehovah-ness” and grace, choosing the Law covenant instead.
— K. R. Blades