1Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. 2 Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.” 3Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” 9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank. 12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” 15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
Exodus is sometimes called the book of deliverance. Abraham’s descendants had become enslaved and oppressed in Egypt and with the opening chapters of Exodus, some seven hundred years later, they questioned whether God had forgotten the promises he had made to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As Exodus unfolds it becomes clear that God had not forgotten his promises and was planning a rescue that would result in freedom for his people. However, one of the lessons Exodus teaches is that God’s freedom does not come without God’s judgment. Judgment and salvation go hand in hand. At the same time God treats men and women with dignity, giving them choice: at least ten times God gave Egypt’s pharaoh the opportunity to let his people go, but each time the pharaoh said, ‘No’. Exodus 24 tells of the time that God, having rescued his people from Egypt, met with them on Mount Sinai. There are two important themes: first, the reason God rescues us; second, the way he rescues us.
Why God Rescues. The overriding reason is that God wants us to be with him (24:1, 9, 11) and share in his glory (24:16, 17). There are echoes of Genesis 3 where Adam is described as walking in the garden with God. Notice the further developments here – not just being with God, but feasting with him and enjoying his presence. Too often our relationship with God is limited to forgiveness and salvation. Exodus 24–39 reverberates with the language of the glory of God – his being with his people – and also, the language of the love and loyalty God’s people should have.
In this context words that spell out the relationship with God are important: Moses is called upon to write up and declare the ordinances and commandments of the Lord (24:3, 12). The Bible is not just a record of God’s redemption story, it becomes the instrument of the story of his rescue. It is not good enough simply to study the Bible, we need personally to encounter God as the Lord who loves and rescues men and women. The Word of God teaches us what it will be like to be with God: we ignore it or treat it casually at our peril.
How God Rescues. The only way we can participate in God’s promises is when sin is removed. So how God does accomplish this great feat? The language of blood and sacrifice is key. Notice that the blood of the sacrifice is splashed in two directions – against the altar, symbolizing the satisfying of God’s justice (24:6) and over the people (24:8), symbolizing the removal of their sin. At the Passover meal on the night of his arrest, Jesus said, ‘This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matthew 26:28). Jesus’ death was the one, true, sufficient sacrifice for our sin, perfectly satisfying God’s righteous requirements.
God’s grace is not cheap. Through the lens of the New Testament we see that Christ the righteous One suffered for an unrighteous humanity so that God impute to everyone who turns to Jesus Christ with heart-felt repentance and true faith, the very righteousness of Jesus Christ himself. God now sees his people through the lens of the cross of Christ. The New Testament gospel, foreshadowed in Exodus 24, is a gospel of redemption. We need to be aware that this gospel is being seriously challenged in some churches today. If we lose the gospel as God has revealed it in his Word, we have no grounds for hope. If we turn to God in the way he has designed and implemented, we will discover true freedom, joy and a new hope.
- the significance of God’s Word for our understanding of God, his rescue and his
expectations of us;
- the significance of the motifs of the righteousness of God and sacrifice for sin; and
- the need to live under and protect the truth of God’s good news.