Study Notes

Exodus 24:1-18

Remember that God had spoken the Ten Commandments to all of the people back in chapter 20. They freaked out and told Moses,

Exod. 20:19 ..."Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die."

So the last 3 chapters of laws and ordinances have been spoken by God to Moses (mo-SHEH) alone.

24:1-2 Come Up To The Lord

Remember that we read back in chapter 6 that two of Aaron's (ah-ha-ROHN) four sons were named Nadab (nah-DAWB) and Abihu (ab-ee-HU). These are the guys that later on will be consumed by fire after offering strange fire before the Lord. You may recall the story from Leviticus 9 and 10. A sin offering, a burnt offering, peace offerings, and a grain offering were sacrificed before the Lord, because the glory of God was going to appear to the people, and they needed to make atonement first.

Lev. 9:22-24 ...Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Woo hoo! This must have been a sight! Fire from heaven. Nadab and Abihu, were probably thinking, "I want a piece of that action! Look at the supernatural sight! Look how the people prostrated! Let's get in on this!" So they decided to make their own offering to God.

Lev. 10:1-2 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.

Nadab and Abihu were struck down dead for two reasons: their internal state of pride and desiring to draw attention away from what God was doing, and their external state of offering something to God that was strange and foreign.

When we seek to be prideful and draw attention to ourselves and our holiness, God is angered. Remember what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5. They did the same type of thing, and were struck down dead.

But not just the inward attitude was punished. It was also the outward actions. God had told his people exactly how to worship Him. And He doesn't receive offerings or sacrifices or worship or anything that's not in line with the way He's outlined. Even way back near the beginning, Cain's offering of vegetables was rejected - God had specified an animal's blood sacrifice.

Nadab and Abihu tried to come to God on their own terms. But that's not okay with God. And even today, people feel that they can come to God on their own terms. They feel they don't need the sacrifice of Jesus Christ - that they can just sit down with God after they die and reason with Him that they really weren't that bad. But those aren't God's terms. Jesus said,

John 14:6 ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

And the Scriptures tell us specifically,

Acts 4:12 ...There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

God must be approached on His terms, not ours. In the way that He has specified, not in the way we have speculated. Nadab and Abihu were guilty of disobedience, of not treating the Lord as holy, or honoring Him before all the people.

But for the time being here in Exodus, Nadab and Abihu seem to be on the right track. God says to call Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 of the elders to come up and worship the Lord at a distance. Only Moses would be allowed to come near to God.

24:3 All That The Lord Has Spoken We Will Do

Moses comes down and tells the people about the Laws that God commanded. The people answer together and say "All that the Lord has spoken, we will do!" - just like they had said back in chapter 19. Of course, it won't be long before the people are in rebellion and idolatry. But before you think, "Oh, those foolish Israelites!" remember that the same thing often happens to us.

When you have an encounter - experiencing God, or hearing His Word - you can't help but desire to live righteously. Unfortunately, when that experience or hearing fades into the distance, so does the desire for dedication. Our hearts quickly grow cold, and our desires rapidly turn to focus on the flesh. That is why we need to continually be experiencing God and hearing His Word. The psalmist wrote,

Ps. 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. With all my heart I have sought Thee; Do not let me wander from Thy commandments. Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.

When you wander from the Word, unrighteousness will not be far behind.

24:4-8 Write It Down

Moses knew that you can't trust people to remember and repeat with reliability, so he wrote these things down.

As the years were progressing after the resurrection of Jesus, Luke came to the same conclusion. He wrote,

Luke 1:3-4 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write {it} out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

When God's Word is written down, we can trust that we have the exact truth. We're not relying on oral history to know the events of the past.

Altar And Sacrifice

After writing these things down, Moses also makes an altar with 12 pillars for the twelve tribes. Sacrifices are made, and the blood is divided to sprinkle the people and the altar.

God instituted the spilling of innocent blood as a sacrificial offering back when He covered Adam and Eve with skins. This was passed down from generation to generation, as we see Abel offering the firstlings of his flock to God. Noah built an altar to the Lord after exiting the ark and sacrificed, then Abraham and Isaac offered a ram for a sacrifice. The Scriptures says,

Hebr. 9:22 ...all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

So the blood of sacrifice is no new thing. But here is additional discovery: that this is the first blood of the covenant. The writer of Hebrews says,

Hebr. 9:18-20 ...Even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU."

This is the first time that we find mentioned that blood is sprinkled on anything or anyone. The sprinkling of the blood sanctified the people and ratified the covenant.

Why do we believe that the old covenant is no longer in effect? Because in Jeremiah, the Lord promised,

Jer. 31:31-33 "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

A covenant was coming that would not require the Law. Instead, God would have a people who had a conviction of sin in their hearts. God did make that new covenant in Jesus Christ. We are sanctified by the blood of Jesus. The covenant is ratified in His blood. Remember the night of the last supper, Jesus said,

Luke 22:20 ..."This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."

And this was not a temporary covenant, like the first, but an unending one:

Hebr. 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will...

This is all expounded upon in Hebrews 8, but at least now we should understand why Peter wrote,

1Pet. 1:2 ...obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood...

We are sanctified, and the new covenant is ratified, by being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus.

24:9-11 Seeing God

74 men saw the God of Israel. This can be confusing, especially because we know that several scriptures seem to contradict this verse. In chapter 33, when Moses asks to see God's face, the Lord responds,

Exod. 33:20 ..."You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"

And the apostle John wrote,

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time...

So do we have a contradiction? No. One of three things happened here:

1) They far enough down the mountain to just be able to make out that God was there, which makes sense, because the following description is about the pavement rather than the Person.

2) They merely saw a vision of God

3) That this was another Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. You see, although no one was able to see God the Father in all His glory, many did in fact see God the Son face to face: Hagar, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua all come to mind.

Pavement Of Sapphire

The pavement, rather than the Person, is described as appearing to be sapphire. Sapphire is a precious stone having a rich transparent blue color. It is said to be clear, or "pure" as the sky itself. Sapphire is unevenly colored in bands, zones, or blotches. The only way to make it appear uniform is to cut it into small pieces of the same color. But here, they see the entire foundation to be pure in color and translucence. This is no earthly stone.

The prophet Ezekiel also had a vision of the throne of God, saying,

Ezek. 10:1 Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them.

I believe that you could be justified in looking towards the clear blue sky and envisioning it as the bottom of the foundation of heaven. Not literally, but a good reminder. Remember that the prophet Nahum wrote,

Nahum 1:3 ...Clouds are the dust beneath His feet.

Many visions of heaven are recorded by the prophets, all strikingly similar. You can read of them in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. But surprisingly, the most detailed description of heaven we will get to read of will be in Exodus, in the details of the tabernacle. For the writer of Hebrews tells us that the tabernacle was a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Heb 8:5).

Ate And Drank

At first, it was really strange to me, thinking that these guys would even think about having a picnic in front of God. You'd think that they would have just stood there with their knees knocking. But then I began to meditate upon the prophetic picture in this.

The priests and elders who have been sprinkled by the blood all called up to eat in the Lord's presence. Remember in our study of Revelation, we looked at the church, those who have been sprinkled by the blood of the Lamb, were called up to heaven to eat the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Eating and drinking in God's presence - the only qualification necessary is to be sprinkled by the blood.

24:12-18 To The Mountaintop

Moses is called up to the mountaintop, and leaves Aaron and Hur (Khoor) in charge. Upon seeing the result of their leadership in chapter 32, we can conclude that this probably wasn't the best idea. For we read that Aaron let the people get out of control. After Moses had been on the mountain for a month, the people fell into idolatry, and Aaron made the idol for them to do it. Worse yet were the excuses he made when he got caught:

Exod. 32:21-24 Then Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?" And Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. For they said to me, 'Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.' So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf."

But again, we're getting ahead of ourselves. For the next 7 chapters, we're going to find out what God told Moses up there on the mountain.

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