Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Exodus 24:1-8 Covenant Meeting

"Then he said to Moses,
'Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,
and seventy of the elders of Israel.
You are to worship at a distance,
but Moses alone is to approach the LORD;
the others must not come near.
And the people may not come up with him.'
When Moses went and told the people all the LORD's words and laws,
they responded with one voice,
'Everything the LORD has said we will do.'
Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.
He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain
and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel.
Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings
and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD.
Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls,
and the other half he sprinkled on the altar.
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people.
They responded,
'We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.'
Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said,
'This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words.'
Exodus 24:1-8 (NIV)
This passage is actually a continuation from Exodus 19:25, where God had called Moses and the people of Israel to meet with Him at Mount Sinai.  The story of that meeting had been interrupted by Moses' account of the Book of the Covenant, which begins in Exodus 20:1 and ends at Exodus 23:33.  The people and the elders of Israel were gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai with Moses.  Now Moses and his brother Aaron, and Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu (the sons of Aaron), along with seventy of the elders of Israel are about to meet with God.
God warned that Moses alone was to draw near to God; Aaron and his sons and the seventy elders were to worship at a distance, and the people were strictly warned to remain at the foot of the mountain.  After a three day period of consecration, Moses led the people to the foot of Mount Sinai.  (Exodus 19:9-17)
The atmosphere must have been absolutely electric.  We are given some sense of this by the description of that morning recorded in Exodus 19:16-19:
"On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning,
with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.
Everyone in the camp trembled.
Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God,
and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
Mount Sinai was covered with smoke,
because the LORD descended on it in fire.
The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace,
the whole mountain trembled violently,
and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.
Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him."
Moses built an altar and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  Burnt offerings and fellowship offerings were presented to the LORD.  Moses took half of the blood from these sacrifices and put it in bowls.  The other half of the blood was sprinkled on the altar.
Moses read to the people the Book of the Covenant, and they indicated their willingness to do everything which the LORD had said.  Moses then sprinkled the people with the other half of the blood from the sacrifices.  The NIV Study Bible note on Exodus 24:6 (page 123) had this to say about the blood from the sacrifice:
"The division of the blood points to the twofold aspect
of the "blood of the covenant" (v.8):
The blood on the altar symbolizes God's forgiveness
and his acceptance of the offering;
the blood on the people points to an oath
that binds them in obedience (see vv. 3,7)"

 After the people had agreed to the covenant by promising their obedience, Moses had sprinkled the people with the other half of the blood from the sacrifice, signifying that the covenant was in effect.  Of course God had already made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants (see Genesis 17), but this particular group of Israelites had not been born at that time, so perhaps it was important that they themselves make such a covenant, particularly since the LORD had delivered them out of slavery in Egypt and they are now heading towards the Promised Land.

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