Exodus 24

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 24, 2008


Back in Exodus 19, Moses had gathered the people at the base of Mount Sinai to make a “covenant”, a contract with the God Yahweh, who had delivered them from Egypt.

In Exodus 20, the people actually heard the voice of God as the Ten Commandments were given.  But the people were too freaked out and so Moses went alone up the mountain to get more details on the laws. Exodus 21-23 are Moses’ record of those details and they are called the “Book of the Covenant”.

:1-8 Affirming the Covenant

:1 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.

Aaron – this is Moses’ brother, who would eventually become the first high priest.

Nadab and Abihu – these are Aaron’s two eldest sons.  They are the ones in Leviticus 10 who are a little drunk when the first sacrifices are offered on the Tabernacle altar, God consumes them with fire.  They came rushing into the Tabernacle and offered “strange fire”, something God had not asked for.  They were immediately burned to a crisp.

seventy of the elders – Back in Exodus 18, the people have just been rescued from Egypt.  Moses has a new job, chief decision maker for the nation.  Every person with a lawsuit comes to Moses to bring judgment.  Moses’ father-in-law rebukes Moses for being the only one to handle these court cases.  Moses ends up setting up a system of elders to rule over the people and spread the responsibility.  It’s called delegation.

worship from afar – this group of men are going to go further up the mountain than where the people are, but not too close to God.


Come Closer

I don’t see this concept of worshipping from afar in the New Testament. 
Some people are struggling with getting closer …
In December 1990, Life magazine did an issue titled “Who Is God?” In it a Hollywood producer named Lynda Sparrow told of the devastation an abortion caused her, but how the subsequent birth of her daughter was a healing miracle. She said,
So I do believe in a God. But I don’t know how to be a Jew, and I don’t even know what my soul is. I can’t make a connection to God. It’s a hopeless feeling that I’m all on my own. It’s been this way for 20 years. I’d just like to know for one day what it feels like to hand your life over to God and say, “Whatever will be, I accept,” to truly have that peace of mind. I want my daughter to know about God…
"Who Is God?" Life, (December 1990), p. 64; submitted by Lee Eclov, Lake Forrest, Illinois
Jesus has changed things.  Jesus has made it possible for us to “worship up close”.  He’s made it possible to know God.
Paul wrote,
(Eph 2:13 NKJV)  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
James writes,
(James 4:8 NKJV)  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Jesus says,
(Mat 11:28 NKJV)  "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
While attending Magdalen, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, C. S. Lewis converted to theism in the spring of 1929, thus setting the stage for his eventual conversion to the Christian faith in 1931. He describes his conversion in his book, Surprised by Joy:
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him of whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 [May 22] I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? … The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compassion is our liberation.
C. S. Lewis, as quoted in Paul F. Ford's Yours, Jack (HarperOne, 2008), p. 9; submitted by Kevin Miller, executive vice president, Christianity Today International
Are you a bit like Mr. Lewis?  Are you struggling with God only to find that He still wants you? Don’t stand far off.  Come close.

:2 "And Moses alone shall come near the LORD, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him."

: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."

The people promise to do all that God says.  It sounds like the right thing to say.

But what we’ve learned from Romans is that we can’t do this on our own.

(Rom 3:10 NKJV)  As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
We can’t obey God on our own.  We need God’s help.  It might be better to respond to God and say, “Help me!”

: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.

wrote all the words of the LORD – some critics would say that the Laws of Moses were simply handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth.  We have Moses’ own record that he wrote down the things we’ve studied in the last four chapters (Ex. 20-24)

at the foot of the mountain – The mountain in Saudi Arabia called Jabal Al Lawz has a couple of interesting man-made structures around it.  One of the most interesting is what is thought to be the altar of the golden calf (more when we get to chapter 32).  The golden calf altar is down in the valley at the foot of the mountain.  Further up the mountain is a structure that might be related to the altar that Moses builds here.  see video from Google Earth

Video clips from “Mountain of Fire”, you’ll hear from Bob Cornuke, Larry Williams, and Jim & Penny Caldwell.  Footage from: 19:32-20:05; 31:05-32:40

built an altarThe structures in the three pictures here aren’t of an altar, but what could be the “chute” where animals would be led up to an altar.

twelve pillars – There are round man-made cylindrical objects similar to pillars seen in Egypt, where you would stack the cylinders on top of each other.

The pillars seem to be somehow representative of the nation, the twelve tribes.

:5 Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD.

young men – the priesthood hasn’t been established yet.  Animal sacrifice is a tough, physical job.  Moses needs some young strong arms to help with the work.

:6 And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

Why? It might be that the blood was meant to consecrate the altar, to make it holy, to make it a place of worship.

It might be that the blood is being given to God.  This is what is usually done with blood in the Bible, it is sprinkled on the altar, symbolic of the worshipper’s life being given to God.

This is an agreement between two parties – between God and the nation of Israel.
Both parties are going to be sprinkled in blood – both God and the nation.
God is the one who is putting forth these laws for the people to follow.  His part is sprinkled with blood first.

: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."

the Book of the Covenant – we’ve been studying it for the last couple of weeks.  It’s the text of Exodus 20-23.  Moses does not yet have the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them.

covenant[email protected] – covenant, pledge; treaty; constitution. 

Think of it as a contract between two parties.

bookcepher – document, writing; book, scroll.  It was most likely a scroll.

Both parties have agreed to the conditions of the contract.

: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."

sprinkled … sprinkledzaraq – to scatter, sprinkle, toss, throw, scatter abundantly, strew

the blood of the covenant – This is the only time in the Old Testament when blood was sprinkled on people.  After this, blood is only sprinkled on the altar.

Heb. 9:18-20 tells us that sprinkling was the way of finalizing or dedicating the agreement between God and Israel.

(Heb 9:18-20 NKJV)  Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. {19} For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, {20} saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."

The “blood of the covenant” also shows up with the New Covenant.  Jesus gave us a new way, the “new covenant”, a “new testament”.  He provides the way to God.  The new agreement between God and man was a little different from the old one.  Jeremiah wrote about it six hundred years before Jesus came.

(Jer 31:31-34 NKJV)  "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; {32} "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. {33} "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The Old Covenant involved laws written on stones, laws imposed from the outside.  The New Covenant involves God putting His ways into our heart.  We follow Him because He changes us, He puts His ways into us.
{34} "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
The Old Covenant involved knowing what you were supposed to do without getting too close to God. 

The New Covenant involves knowing God.

The Old Covenant involved guilt and condemnation for all the things you didn’t do right.

The New Covenant involves forgiveness.

Jesus connects us to the New Covenant.

(Mat 26:27-28 NKJV)  Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. {28} "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

The author of Hebrews tells us what to do with this New Covenant.

(Heb 10:19-25 NKJV)  Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, {20} by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, {21} and having a High Priest over the house of God, {22} let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. {23} Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. {24} And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, {25} not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
The Old Covenant was about having a priest take care of all your business with God.

The New Covenant is about you coming to God directly because of what Jesus did in dying for you.

Our part:

Keep holding on to Jesus.

Don’t stop hanging out at church.

Keep encouraging each other towards love and good works.

:9-18 On the Mountain with God

: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.

pavedlibnah – tile, pavement, brick

sapphirecappiyr sapphire, lapis lazuli; as you can see in the pictures, under God’s feet the pavement was a dark blue.

under His feet – at first the phrase doesn’t seem too important.  But the phrase is only used 8 times in the Bible, 7 of them for God.

It’s a phrase describing mastery, the one who has conquered.

(2 Sam 22:10 NKJV)  He bowed the heavens also, and came down With darkness under His feet.
(1 Cor 15:25 NKJV)  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.

claritytohar – purity; clearness, luster


Under His feet

It was over their head, but it was under His feet.
Ever feel like you’re over your head in something?
Maybe it would be good to realize that what’s over your head is still under His feet.

When Peter tried walking on water, he began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to freak out at the wind and the waves.

Even though the waves started going over his head, the waves were still under Jesus’ feet.

Do you have something over your head right now?  Is it under His feet?

On May 17, 2008, Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his family suffered a devastating loss. Five-year-old adopted daughter, Maria, was struck and killed when Chapman’s seventeen-year-old son was backing his SUV out of the family’s driveway. After much prayer and counsel, Chapman recently returned to touring in promotion for his newest album. Elizabeth Diffin, a freelance reporter, attended one of Chapman’s concerts and writes about the experience:
It’s not often you leave a concert reflecting on the words of a song by a different artist. But as I exited the July 24, 2008, Steven Curtis Chapman event, the words of a Matt Redman worship song echoed through my head. Chapman opened the concert with “Blessed Be Your Name” just two months after the death of his 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue, in a tragic accident at the family’s home.
“Blessed Be Your Name” was also the first song Chapman sang May 21, the day of Maria’s death, when he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to sing again. Inspired by the story of Job, at one point the lyrics repeat, “He gives and takes away.”
“As I sang this song … it wasn’t a song, it was a cry, a scream, a prayer,” Chapman explained to the audience of nearly 5,000. “I found an amazing comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Chapman also shared that after Maria’s death, he’d reconsidered the words to all his songs and whether he could still sing—and believe—them. Instead, losing his little girl brought the meaning of some of those songs into sharper focus. One example was “Yours,” which addresses how everything in the world belongs to God.
“In this song, in particular, I had to come to a new realization,” he said. “There’s not an inch of creation that God doesn’t look at and say ‘all of that’s mine.’”
As a result of that realization in conjunction with Maria’s death, Chapman added a new verse to “Yours”:
I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
so deep and dark that I could barely breath.
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear and
I’ve questioned everything that I believe.
Still even here in this great darkness
a comfort and a hope comes breaking through
as I can say in life or death
God we belong to you.

Elizabeth Diffin, "Still Blessing His Name," Today's-Christian.com (on-line exclusive)

: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.

they saw God

They saw something, but we aren’t told what they saw or how much they saw.

How could this be when God Himself says,

(Exo 33:20 NKJV)  But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live."

Perhaps all they saw was His feet. 

Perhaps it was a vision of God. Ezekiel also saw a vision of heaven, including:

(Ezek 1:26 NLT)  Above the surface over their heads was what looked like a throne made of blue sapphire

Isaiah also had a vision of God:

(Isa 6:1-4 NKJV)  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. {2} Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. {3} And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" {4} And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

Perhaps they saw Jesus in His “preincarnate” form.

John wrote that what Isaiah saw was the glory of Jesus:
(John 12:41 NKJV)  These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
John also write,
(John 1:18 NKJV)  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

If you want to know what God is really like, you need to get to know Jesus.

ate and drank – in “ratifying” the agreement with God, they have dinner with God.

Sounds like another supper…

(Luke 22:19-20 NKJV)  And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." {20} Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

: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."

This is when Moses will receive the two tablets of stone with the commandments written by the finger of God.

:13 So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.

Moses and Joshua are the only ones to go up higher on the mountain.

assistantsharath – (Piel) to minister, serve

Joshua – Joshua would one day lead the nation.  He would be the one to lead the armies of Israel as they conquered the Promised Land.  But he didn’t start out as an exalted leader.  He got his start as Moses’ servant.

: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."

Note: If Moses hadn’t learned to delegate, he would have never been able to go up to the mountain to spend 40 days with God.

: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.

on the seventh day – God doesn’t let Moses come into His presence before waiting for six days.

: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.

glorykabowd – glory, honor, splendor, abundance; from kabad – to be heavy, be weighty, be rich, be honorable, be glorious

Here the glory is associated with the cloud that is covering the mountain.

(Exo 40:34-35 NKJV)  Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. {35} And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

consuming‘akal – to eat, devour, burn up, feed

When Moses first met God, it was through a bush that was burning but was not consumed (same Hebrew word).

(Exo 3:2 NKJV)  And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.

: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.

During these forty days, Moses would not be eating or drinking (Deu. 9:9)

One of the purposes of this time was to receive the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them.

Another purpose was to show Moses how to build the Tabernacle.

We know that the Tabernacle was a sort of model of heaven.  As God gave Moses instructions for building the various parts of the Tabernacle, God said,

(Exo 25:40 NKJV)  "And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.
If God says this in the next chapter, when did God show Moses the pattern for the Tabernacle?
Could it have been when Moses and the elders had dinner with God?


Enter in

Moses heard God’s voice.  He went up the mountain.
Have you heard God’s voice today?
Are you ready to follow Him?
(Heb 12:18-29 NKJV)  For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, {19} and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. {20} (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow." {21} And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.") {22} But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, {23} to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, {24} to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. {25} See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, {26} whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." {27} Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. {28} Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. {29} For our God is a consuming fire.