I believe the Torah wanted to acquaint us with three steps which were essential in the preparation to receive the Torah. G'd became willing to entrust the Torah to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance after they had taken these three steps.
The first step was for the Israelites to get a grip on themselves and to study the Torah diligently. Laziness is like a weed which leads one to forfeit whatever achievements in Torah insights one has acquired.
If the Torah had wanted us to know from which location the Israelites journeyed towards the desert of Sinai, this would have had to be stated at the beginning of verse one. The Torah meant that the Israelites put some spiritual distance between their neglect of Torah as demonstrated at a place called Refidim, and their renewed progress towards receiving the Torah.
The second step which the Israelites had to take in preparation for מתן תורה was to be modest and humble. Our sages say that only people who are humble can be certain that they will not forget their Torah knowledge. They phrase it thus: "Words of Torah do not endure except with people who humble themselves to be like the desert."
The third thing is the teaching of the wise coming together with each other, and connecting with a full and whole friendship (heart). Not to be separated from each other, as for that the Talmud teaches us based on the words of Jeremiah, that it's like a sword on those who are [studying] alone. But, we need to come together, grow from each other [from the differences], and treat each other nicely. That is why the Torah uses a singular word, because all the Israelites became like one person - and now they were ready to receive to Torah.