Exodus 24

The Covenant Confirmed

24 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, 2 but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him."

3 When Moses went and told the people all the Lord's words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything the Lord has said we will do." 4 Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.

He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey."

8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."

9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

12 The Lord said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction."

13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them."

15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.


Back up the mountain

Moses is already up in the cloud of presence but is symbolically/mystically called further in.

Israel accepts the covenant contract for the second time once again emphasising their commitment to obedience (24.3).

Seeing the God of Israel: The Covenant Meal
In the ancient near east, covenants were often ratified by participating in a solemn meal (Gen. 26.30; 31.54). Isaiah's vision of God's redemption takes place in a covenant meal (Is. 25.6-8). Eating with other people was a significant event in ancient days, and only parties who were at peace could dine together.

Having embraced God's covenant, the elders of Israel are invited up on the mountain with Moses and the priests to see a vision of the Lord. We know that no one can ‘see God and live' (Ex. 33.20), though we're told that Moses did on some occasions (Ex. 33.1). Here the seventy (symbolic of ‘complete, full') elders along with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu ‘saw' God, and even ‘beheld' God, and ate in his presence. We are not sure of what this vision actually entailed, but it was a glimpse of God's glory, for the passage emphasises what they saw at God's feet, being unable to gaze at His face directly (9–10).

At the end of John's gospel, John records that following the resurrection, Jesus ate with his disciples.

"Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead." (John 21:12-14)

Is this meal with Jesus a sign of the ratification of the new covenant after his death and resurrection?

"He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household." (Ephesians 2:17-19a)

Pray today in the knowledge that peace has been established between you and God your Father.

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