The theme of chapters 1-18 in Exodus is how the Lord delivered His people from Egypt (bondage). In chapters 19-24 – what we are currently studying – the Israelites are at Mount Sinai so the Lord can adopt them as His children. He’s allowed them to experience Him and be taught by Him through Moses’ words. Next week, when we begin studying chapter 25, we’ll learn of the tabernacle and how it was God’s plan so He could dwell with His people (and the study of the tabernacle/priesthood will continue through chapter 40, the final chapter!).
We’re over half-way there! Persevere in your study as there are so many parallels between the Old Testament law and our freedom in Christ Jesus now.
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. 2 And Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.”
- Just a quick recap of where we’re at here. In chapter 20, the Lord called Moses and 70 elders up to Mount Sinai. Moses received the Ten Commandments and recorded everything that God said, which was included in the Book of the Covenant. So, the law is now written down and God’s promises are in order, right? Not quite yet…let’s see what had to happen in order for those laws and promises to be “sealed.”
3 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.” 4 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. 5 Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.6 And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar.7 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.” 8 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.”
- Look at what Moses did. He built an altar at the foot of the mountain using 12 pillars – which represented the 12 tribes of Israel – and sacrificed oxen to the Lord. Then, after reading the Book of the Covenant (all the laws and judgments that we’ve studied so far), he sprinkled the blood on the people and a covenant was established between God and His people. Wow! It’s like when someone goes to adopt a child and the papers are actually signed and sealed stating that the child now has a parent to love and care for them. This is the same act of love happening here.
- Let’s talk for a minute about the blood and what it represents in our own life today. How did the Israelites get sprinkled with blood? There had to be a sacrifice – a shedding of blood. The same is true for us now because we are sinful creatures and we require a sacrifice, too. That’s where Jesus comes in. Read Hebrews 9:25-27 with me which says, “Not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” This passage is telling us that in Old Testament times, a sacrifice (and the blood of the sacrifice) had to occur again and again in order for the covering of sin to continue. But when Jesus came onto the scene, He died once for all sin and it was FINISHED. The blood of Christ Jesus is not a covering for our sin, but a removal of our sin (see Hebrews 10).
9 Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 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. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
- Moses, Aaron, his two sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel saw the God of Israel. Now, think about that for a moment! They’re up on the mountain and they see God. Now, this doesn’t mean they actually saw His physical being, because John 1:18 tells us this is not possible. But, they saw the glory of God and the sapphire pavement of what was probably His throne (Ezekiel 1:26). As if being in His presence wasn’t enough, they actually “ate and drank” with Him which signifies a deep relationship – just as He calls us to today. Aren’t you grateful that you can enter God’s presence at anytime and fellowship with Him? Wow. What an extravagant moment these elders experienced – yet we have the privilege of this same event at any time. Hebrews 4:16 tells us to boldly come to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. The next time you’re in need, come to the throne of grace. Picture yourself on your face in front of God, fellowshipping with Him on that sapphire pavement.
12 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.”
- The Lord wanted Moses to come up the mountain further with Him. However, in chapter 20, the Israelites were fine just hearing what God had to say by way of Moses and staying at the base of the mountain. Can you hear Him beckoning you to climb higher so you can draw closer to Him?
13 So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14 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.” 15 Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain.
16 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. 17 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. 18 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
- Again, the Israelites were just spectating. They observed God, but were not in close relationship with Him like Moses was. Moses was the mediator or a type (foreshadowing) of Christ. During this time on the mountain, God gave Moses the tablets of stone (Ten Commandments) and the plans for the tabernacle and priesthood. Note that verse 17 compared the Lord to a consuming fire and in Hebrews 12:29 it tells us the same thing. Are you spending your time within the consuming fire of God – the fire which refines your life and removes all the impurities? Let’s not simply spectate from the base of the mountain. Let’s be awe struck and changed. Amen.