Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Exodus 24:9-11 Meeting With God

"Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,
and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel.
Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire,
clear as the sky itself.
But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites;
they saw God, and they ate and drank.

Exodus 24:9-11 (NIV)
 We have to just take a moment to appreciate what is going on here.  Moses and Aaron, along with Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu and seventy elders of Israel ascended the mountain and met with the God of Israel.  They had a personal encounter with the Creator of the universe.
Under God's feet stretched a pavement of sapphire, clear as the sky.  In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel there is an account of when the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of four creatures which stood near God's presence.  After describing these beings, Ezekiel notes:
"Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads
as they stood with lowered wings.
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire,
and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.
I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal,
as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire;
and brilliant light surrounded him.
Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day,
so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking."
Ezekiel 1:25-28 (NIV)
I included that account from Ezekiel just to give you somewhat of an idea of the majesty of the situation which Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders encountered.  There was a belief that if one saw God one would die, for who could stand before God's great holiness and power and live?  However, our passage states that God did not raise his hand against these people; rather, they saw God and ate and drank.  This seems to indicate a covenant meal, celebrated because of the agreement which the Israelites had made with their God.
This does not mean that they can just carelessly appear before God's presence in the future any time they wished.  In fact, later Nadab and Abihu will suffer severe consequences for their careless disregard of their position as priests before the LORD.  However, at this moment it is a time of joy and celebration as the covenant between God and Israel is again confirmed.

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