Monday, March 26, 2012

Reflections on Exodus 24

    Exodus 24 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on this mountain. Bring along Aaron, as well as his two sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of Israel's leaders. They must worship me at a distance,
  2. but you are to come near. Don't let anyone else come up."
  3. Moses gave the LORD's instructions to the people, and they promised, "We will do everything the LORD has commanded!"
  4. Then Moses wrote down what the LORD had said. The next morning Moses got up early. He built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up a large stone for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  5. He also sent some young men to burn offerings and to sacrifice bulls as special offerings to the LORD.
  6. Moses put half of the blood from the animals into bowls and sprinkled the rest on the altar.
  7. Then he read aloud the LORD's commands and promises, and the people shouted, "We will obey the LORD and do everything he has commanded!"
  8. Moses took the blood from the bowls and sprinkled it on the people. Next, he told them, "With this blood the LORD makes his agreement with you."
  9. Moses and Aaron, together with Nadab and Abihu and the seventy leaders, went up the mountain
  10. and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something that looked like a pavement made out of sapphire, and it was as bright as the sky.
  11. Even though these leaders of Israel saw God, he did not punish them. So they ate and drank.
  12. The LORD said to Moses, "Come up on the mountain and stay here for a while. I will give you the two flat stones on which I have written the laws that my people must obey."
  13. Moses and Joshua his assistant got ready, then Moses started up the mountain to meet with God.
  14. Moses had told the leaders, "Wait here until we come back. Aaron and Hur will be with you, and they can settle any arguments while we are away."
  15. When Moses went up on Mount Sinai, a cloud covered it,
  16. and the bright glory of the LORD came down and stayed there. The cloud covered the mountain for six days, and on the seventh day the LORD told Moses to come into the cloud.
  17. Moses did so and stayed there forty days and nights. To the people, the LORD's glory looked like a blazing fire on top of the mountain.
  18. (SEE 24:17)

Moses had been given the ordinances on which His covenant with Israel was to be based, including the ten commandments. Now it was time for the people to agree to the covenant. God described how the agreement ceremony was to take place which Moses delivered to the people and to which they agreed.

After Moses wrote everything the Lord said to him on scrolls, the ceremony began. An altar was built with 12 pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Fellowship offerings were made to the Lord on the altar and blood sprinkled on the altar. Then the covenant scroll was read to the people and they responded by saying, "We will do and obey everything that the LORD has commanded." Following their verbal agreement to the covenant, the people were sprinkled with blood.

The concluding event in the agreement ceremony involved Moses ascending the mountain, taking with him Aaron, Aaron's two sons, and 70 of Israel's elders. There they all "saw the God of Israel," a very privileged occurance, one people do not normally survive. But "God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank." (24:11) This meal in the presence of God was the final act of the agreement ceremony.

Having agreed to the covenant, the Israelite nation was born. But God wasn't finished instructing this new nation. He again summoned Moses to go up the mountain to meet with Him. This time God would give Moses the ten commandments on stone tablets and would give instructions for the proper way in which to worship Him. Moses would spend 40 day and nights on the mountain on this occasion which called for the appointment of a temporary leader of the people. Aaron became the appointed temporary leader and was left behind to fulfill this role. Moses then took with him his new assistant, Joshua, and went up the mountain.

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