These are the crucial chapters where the LORD laid down His laws — “the first covenant” with Moses on Mount Sinai. Here are His expectations from the people of Israel, especially that they would recognize him and serve him as “the one living and true God” (CCC 62), for He is a jealous God (Ex 20:5).
God revealed Himself progressively throughout Exodus. The most significant revelations were the revelations of His most divine name to Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14) and at the covenant at Mount Sinai, “I am the LORD your God” (Ex 20:1). God also emphasized His Holiness, especially to those who came near to Him. One harsh case in Leviticus Chapter 8 was the death of Na’dab and Abi’hu, sons of Aaron, as they lit an unholy fire before the LORD.
Although the LORD appeared to be strict, demanding and harsh to the people of Israel, He also conveyed a key message, that “how God loves His people first” (CCC 2061). The first words of the Ten Commandments recall this love from God, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex 20:1). He released them from the slavery of this world to “the paradise of freedom” (CCC 2061). “He saved them from the Egyptians: He has triumphed gloriously” (CCC 2810).
As in previous chapters, the LORD was eager for his chosen people, the sons of Israel, to have their devoted love and full faith in Him. God rescued His afflicted people and gave them back their moral life and “all its meaning in and through the covenant” (CCC 2061). This is the LORD’s loving initiative for man (CCC 2062). Therefore, through the establishment of the covenant – the Ten Commandments — this would be an implication of the Israelite people’s belonging to God (CCC 2062).