“Then Moses went down and told the people.” Exodus 24:3 is Moses’ fourth time down Mount Sinai. Moses came down Mount Sinai to the camp of Israel at the foot of the mountain and told all the people what God said, which was all the laws and commandments God had given from Exodus 20:21, when he had gone up Mount Sinai to speak with God (his fourth time up Mount Sinai) until this fourth time down the mountain. Moses wrote down all the things that God had said during that time, (Exod. 24:4), and that scroll of laws that God gave to Moses was called “The Book of the Covenant” (Exod. 24:7).
The laws in the Book of the Covenant, which was what God had said from Exodus 20:22-23:33, are very valuable moral and legal directives on many different aspects of life, and if followed would keep any nation and its people holy before Yahweh and well-positioned to have rewards in the next life. There are parts of it that seem very harsh to us today, but we must remember that on the Day of Judgment we humans will not make the laws by which we will be judged, God makes those laws. There is a spiritual war going on between Good and Evil, and the Devil’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy God’s people (John 10:10). Most ungodly people today conveniently don’t believe in the Devil and his agenda to make people and nations unholy to God, but their unbelief does not make the Devil disappear, it only distorts their perception of how life really works and what is important. What people believe will not change what God will do on the Day of Judgment. Also, although we may not have to enforce every one of the laws in the Book of the Covenant today, we must realize that only a few of the people of Israel had God’s gift of spirit (cp. Num. 11:16-17, 24-29), and so the most reliable way to keep Israel holy before Yahweh was to give people clear laws on how to live holy before God and get the truly unholy people out of Israel because their evil influence would make it unholy to God and also jeopardize the everlasting life and rewards that people could have in the future. Any Israelite who did not like God’s laws was free to leave Israel, but if they were stubborn and stayed they would be subject to God’s laws.
[For more information on Moses’ seven trips up Mount Sinai, see commentary on Exod. 19:3.]