Exodus 24 - The Covenant Is Made
A. The "signing" of the Mosaic covenant.
1. (1-3) Moses relates all the words of the Lord and all the judgments to Israel.
Now He said to Moses, "Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him." So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the Lord has said we will do."
a. Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: We are reminded that God spoke Exodus chapters 20:22 through 23:33 to Moses alone. Now others were to come up on the mountain with Moses, yet Moses alone shall come near. Moses was allowed special access to God, so God would speak to Moses and Moses could speak to the nation.
b. So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments: When the people heard the law of God they responded with complete agreement (all the people answered with one voice). Then they verbally agreed to obey the Lord (All the words which the Lord has said we will do).
i. Israel here is perhaps guilty of tremendous over-confidence. The way they seemed to easily say to God, "we will keep Your law" seems to lack appreciation for how complete and searching God's law is.
ii. However, a nation that had been terrified by God's awesome presence at Sinai was in no state of mind to do anything but agree with God.
2. (4-8) The nation confirms their solemn covenant with God.
And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient." And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words."
a. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord: In the previous verse (Exodus 24:3), Israel verbally agreed to a covenant-relationship with God; but there is a sense in which this is simply not good enough. They must do specific things to confirm their covenant with God. First, the word of God must be written: Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. God's word was important enough that it was not be left up to human recollection and the creative nature of memory. It had to be written down.
i. With the same idea God spoke through Habakkuk: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
b. Who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord: Second, covenant is only made in the context of sacrifice. Sacrifice admits our own sin and failing before God, and addressing that need through the death of a substitute.
c. He took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people: Third, covenant is made when God's word is heard and responded to. Our covenant with God is based on His words, His terms, not our own words and terms.
i. Additionally, there must be a response to God's word: All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient. Just as much as God would not negotiate His covenant with Israel, neither would He force it upon them. They must freely respond.
d. Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people: Fourth, covenant is made with the application of blood. As the nation "received" the blood of the covenant, the covenant was sealed.
i. There was nothing "magical" about blood, but because it represents the life of a being (For the life of the flesh is in the blood, Leviticus 17:11), blood represents the outpouring of life, of one life being given for another.
ii. Almost a thousand years later, God did not forget the blood of this covenant: Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. (Zechariah 9:11)
iii. The blood of Jesus' covenant saves us: this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
iv. The blood of Jesus' covenant is also the foundation for all our growth and maturity in Christ: Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
B. The elders and priests of Israel with God on Sinai.
1. (9-11) The elders of Israel meet with God.
Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
a. And they saw the God of Israel: It is difficult to say exactly what they saw. Most likely they saw a heavenly vision of God, after the pattern of Isaiah (Isaiah 6) or Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1).
i. The blue of the sapphire may suggest that the elders saw the sea of glass before the throne of God (Revelation 4:6).
b. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand: This indicates that as glorious as this experience was, there was something missing or incomplete in the encounter. This was not a "face-to-face" encounter with God. These elders of Israel could see God, but there was no fellowship or communication between them and God.
c. So they saw God: God allowed the elders of Israel to see such a spectacular vision to impress on them the reality of God's presence. After this experience they would be more likely to trust God when He spoke through Moses.
d. And they ate and drank: God wanted them to eat and drink in His presence because He wanted to communicated a sense of fellowship with these leaders of Israel.
2. (12-18) Moses goes up on the mountain to meet with God and to receive the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them." So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them." Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain. Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
a. Come up to Me on the mountain and be there: Moses went up at God's invitation and he also brought with him his assistant Joshua. This same Joshua became the great leader God used to bring Israel into the Promised Land, but he began as Moses' assistant - first, helping Moses in battle (Exodus 17:8-16), then by assisting him here in spiritual things.
b. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you: Moses had good reason to believe that these two men could supervise the camp of Israel. They already proved themselves as men capable of assisting Moses in prayer (Exodus 17:10-13). Yet Aaron and Hur didn't do a good job guarding the camp.
c. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel: Perhaps this looked like glowing, radiant embers of a hot fire (a consuming fire). The glorious presence of God on Sinai lingered the forty days Moses was on the mount. Though the people could not see God, and could not see Moses, God left them reminders of His glory and presence, to help them trust what they could not see.
i. God gives us similar reminders of His glory and His presence. He gives us reason to trust Him whom we cannot see because of these reminders.
©2004 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission.