Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Exodus 24:1-12

Then he said to Moses, “Go up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders, and bow in worship at a distance. 2 Moses alone is to approach the Lord, but the others are not to approach, and the people are not to go up with him.”

3 Moses came and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. Then all the people responded with a single voice, “We will do everything that the Lord has commanded.”

4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early the next morning and set up an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel at the base of the mountain. 5 Then he sent out young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half the blood and set it in basins; the other half of the blood he splattered on the altar. 7 He then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people. They responded, “We will do and obey all that the Lord has commanded.”

8 Moses took the blood, splattered it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you concerning all these words.”

9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. 11 God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank.

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay there so that I may give you the stone tablets with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”

The Original Intent

1) Why was Moses alone allowed to approach the Lord? (verses 2 and 12)

In Exodus 24:1-2, God told Moses, “Go up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders, and bow in worship at a distance. Moses alone is to approach the Lord, but the others are not to approach, and the people are not to go up with him.” God allowed Aaron, his sons, and 70 elders to come closer to worship, but only Moses could approach God to commune with Him.

Author John Currid suggests why God invited Aaron, his sons and the elders to the covenant ceremony, “Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, [are] leaders of the future priesthood, and seventy ruling elders of Israel [represent] all Israel in their leadership positions.” These guests symbolized the priests and the Israelites and their role in the covenant between God and people.

Moses, however, had a larger role in the covenant ceremony, possibly because he already had an established relationship with the Lord. God had spoken to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and during the 10 plagues (Exodus 7-11) and during the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 13). As God’s obedient servant, Moses had communicated God’s covenant to His people, and it would be Moses who would be present to finalize this covenant with God at Mt. Sinai.

Walter C. Kaiser also suggests, “Moses alone was to function as the mediator between God and the Israelites, just as Christ is designated the second Moses in Hebrews 3:1–6 and thus is the Mediator of the new covenant. (Hebrews 12:24)”

Moses represented the role Jesus would play in the New Covenant as the only Way for people to reach God. (John 14:6) In inviting Moses to mediate His covenant with the Israelites, the Lord was signaling the role Jesus would play in reconciling people to God. (Colossians 1:20)

The Everyday Application

1) Why was Moses alone allowed to approach the Lord? (verses 2 and 12)

Sometimes while teaching a large class, it’s impossible to hear each student’s thoughts or verify their understanding. One strategy to hear from everyone is to put students in groups and select a spokesperson from each group to share the ideas from that group. Ideally, this allows everyone to have input while streamlining communication.

In a similar sense, Moses was the spokesperson for the nation of Israel. God allowed Moses’ brother Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and 70 leaders to worship Him in a covenant ceremony, but only Moses could advance up the mountain to speak with the Lord. (Exodus 24:1-2) Moses was granted access to God so he could communicate God’s will to the people and deliver their promises of faithfulness and obedience to God.

The Israelites were afraid of hearing from God themselves (Exodus 20:19), so they were glad to have a go-between who would hear from the Lord, explain His plans and then deliver their vows to Him in return.

Today we don’t need a leader like Moses to approach the Lord for us because we have Jesus as our constant intercessor and advocate. When we trust in Jesus, He washes us in His blood and presents us blameless to the Father at all times; every sin has been paid in full. (Colossians 1:22) Because of this complete covering of our sin through Jesus who constantly intercedes for us, we can come boldly to His throne of grace to hear Him, receive from Him, and pour out our praise and our requests before Him. (Hebrews 4:16)

God sees True Believers as righteous because of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21), therefore He grants us access to His glorious presence. We don’t need to wait at the bottom of the mountain, as the Israelites did, to hear from God; we can seek His face and know we will be rewarded! (Hebrews 11:6)

The Original Intent

2) Why is the only description of their God sighting of the road beneath His feet? (verse 10)

When Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons and 70 of Israel’s elders came before God on the mountain in a ceremony to celebrate the covenant between humans and God, “they saw the God of Israel. Beneath his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself.” (Exodus 24:10) In this encounter with the Lord, the only imagery provided describes the view from beneath God’s feet.

This description leaves it unclear as to what was actually seen. David Guzik states that what “they saw under His feet suggests that at the most they saw the footstool of God. (Isaiah 66:1).” In reference to the lapus lazuli, author Steven J. Cole suggests “the elders saw the sea of glass before the throne of God. (Revelation 4:6) Ezekiel 1:26 describes God as seated on a sapphire throne, over a crystal ‘firmament’ (Ezekiel 1:22). This thought is taken up again in the book of Revelation.”

Whatever the priests and elders saw of the Lord was enough to produce awe but not enough to kill them. (Exodus 33:20) Author James Burton Coffman asserts they “did behold a very wonderful display of God’s excellent presence, sufficiently miraculous to inspire them with the knowledge that it truly was God Himself who had given them the covenant and sealed it with blood.”

The priests and elders would have a spectacular story to tell when they descended the mountain, describing their phenomenal encounter with the living God to those waiting to hear about their experience. God gave them a glimpse of His glory, and it was enough to prove they served an awesome and mighty God.

The Everyday Application

2) Why is the only description of their God sighting of the road beneath His feet? (verse 10)

My friend was elated to receive a gift of concert merchandise from her favorite singer’s world tour. After loudly admiring the fluffy sweatshirt and showing it around, she gasped with glee at the 2 tiny tissue paper hearts that floated out of the package.

She explained that only specific concert items were packed with these hearts, and she was thrilled that a few had accidentally found their way into her box. She treasured them almost as much as the gift itself because they represented a special touch from her favorite artist to her loyal fans. I was amused that such a seemingly insignificant thing as tissue paper could produce such joy!

In reading the account of God appearing to the priests and elders on Mount Sinai in Exodus 24:10, I was similarly struck by how impacted they were by such a brief encounter with God. They did not see God’s form or His face, or even His arms or legs. All they described was the sparkling pavement beneath His feet. They apparently did not even see His feet!

The only thing they saw, or maybe the only thing they could bear to gaze upon (Revelation 1:16-17), was the splendor of the road beneath His feet. This peek at God’s glory was enough to overpower them with His wonder and power. Robert Rayburn asserts that their reaction describes “the transcendent glory of God, the distance that separates creature from Creator and the humility and fear that ought to mark man’s approach to the living God.”

May we treasure the Lord’s presence in the same way, letting His love and sovereignty humble and amaze us.

The Original Intent

3) Why did they eat and drink after they saw the Lord? (verse 11)

After God revealed Himself to Moses and the others,God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw him, and they ate and drank.” (Exodus 24:11) Being in God’s presence could be a dangerous thing. (Genesis 32:30) God even warned Moses that humans couldn’t look at God and live. (Exodus 33:20) But in this instance, the Lord invited Moses and company to not only experience His presence, but also to eat and drink with Him in the sense of being near His presence in a sliver of a manner.

This meal celebrated a significant event: a covenant between the Israelites and God. The people promised to obey God and observe His commands, and God promised to bless their obedience. (Exodus 20) Bible student David Guzik notes, “It is true that a shared meal (especially involving salt) was a common way of sealing a covenant, from biblical times to modern days. However, it is also true that any form of worship which involved the sacrifice of ‘peace offerings’ (Exodus 24:5) would be naturally followed by a sacrificial feast.”

As a celebration of covenant and an observance of a peace offering, this meal in God’s presence was significant. Some theologians believe it was the herald of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) when Jesus broke bread with His disciples just before His sacrifice on the cross. (Matthew 27) Bible teacher R. C. Sproul suggests, “Like the peace offering, we share a communal meal in the Supper, feeding upon Christ and the benefits of His sacrifice spiritually by faith. […] And like the peace offering, the Lord’s Supper is also a celebration of covenant fellowship and a pledge to praise God for all the benefits of salvation . . .”

Those who trust in God can partake of His Holy communion as a way to commemorate His sacrifice and appreciate the gift of His presence.

The Everyday Application

3) Why did they eat and drink after they saw the Lord? (verse 11)

One of my favorite things about the brief time I spent in Mexico as a student, teacher, and short term missionary was the amazing food I shared with incredible people at significant events.

I attended a child’s birthday party and savored the quintessential Mexican dessert, Tres Leches Cake, a richly decadent sponge cake. At a school fiesta, we marked the end of term with chicken mole, a flavorful sweet, spicy dish often served at celebrations. To commemorate the completion of building a small house, the volunteers and grateful homeowners relished a savory chicken roasted over an open fire in the front yard.

Making memories and marking milestones around a table with delicious food and good friends is a universal way to celebrate and form connections. It is no wonder, then, to see this concept of celebration and fellowship around a meal play out in Exodus 24:11, when God invited Moses, Aaron, the priests and elders to share a meal together before Moses went further up Mt. Sinai to signify the completion of the Mosaic covenant.

Author David Guzik suggests, “God wanted them to eat and drink in His presence because He wanted to communicate a sense of fellowship with these leaders of Israel.” God chose to commemorate the moment that the Israelites agreed to follow and obey Him by inviting them to eat together in His presence.

He wanted them to participate in the relationship building and bond-strengthening that comes with the shared experience of breaking bread together, an act that conveys emotion, culture, and relationship not only during the meal but also later whenever it is remembered.

We find this to be true with our own family holidays, church suppers, and neighborhood barbecues. What a wonderful method of celebration, love and remembrance our God has established for us through a shared meal at His Table!

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