24:12 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. 14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. 15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
Here is what may be the beginning of the alphabet that we use, the precursor to it. God created the writing that contrasted with the pictograms of hieroglyphics and cuneiform writing that dominated the ancient world. From China, Sumeria, and Egypt to the civilizations of the ancient Americas pictures were used to convey ideas and history, representations of things worshipped. The basic units of writing, the letters, become symbols for ideas rather than pictures representing things to be worshipped as idols. ‘A’, instead of a symbol for a bull or an ox, is Aleph in Hebrew and Alpha in Greek, and ‘A’ for modern purposes. A good study for this is Marc A. Ouaknin’s Mysteries of the Alphabet. This could be part of God drawing a people out of a world of idolatrous pictures to be adored and turning their writing into ideas to be expressed by symbols.
God is going to give the Ten Commandments, the foundational principles of the Hebrew’s relationship with Him and with each other, to Moses. These are negative principles designed to constrain man’s inherited sin nature and channel their journey between the rocks of idolatry against God and evil behavior toward each other. Within their fullness, which will be revealed, lie the positive statements that will become the essence of Christian faith and practice.
Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
They are the essence of Jesus’ positive statements.
Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The essence of loving God, from the commandments, is to not worship other gods and the essence of loving one’s neighbor, according to the commandments, is to do him no harm.
Christ revealed the fullness of the Law, for instance, in His story of The Good Samaritan. It is not enough not to harm someone as an expression of love but to do good to them, as well.
Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
James laid it out this way.
James 2:14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
With regard to the simile in verse 17 note;
Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
Hebrews 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.
Biblically speaking, seven is a number that can represent completion, the perfecting of a thing, finishing it. The seven days of Creation come to mind, as an example. Forty days is a number that can represent testing and trial. See Elijah’s forty days on Mount Horeb also in 1Kings 19 and Jesus forty days in the wilderness in the Gospels.