Exodus 22-24 Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights

From Exodus 22-24

02 ExodusThe covenant, whose laws have been recorded previous chapters, is confirmed through worship, sacrifice, personal dedication, and the writing of the law. In this chapter, Moses goes up the mountain another time. During this time he receives instructions that will dominate the remainder of Exodus, the Pentateuch and the Old Testament.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Moses is still on the mountain. The LORD has given him and Israel the ten commandments and many laws by which they are to govern their lives. In the chapters 23 and 24 the LORD has reaffirmed his promises they will enter the promised land (Ex 23.20-33). In today’s passage the LORD confirmes his covenant.

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24 Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. 2 Moses alone shall come near to the LORD, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (Ex 24.1-3)

‘Near to the LORD’. Israel worship drives most of this chapter. The LORD gives them specific instructions who is allowed up and near the presence of the LORD on the mountain. The closer, the fewer.

4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

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5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.

7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Ex 24.4-8)

These are ceremonial acts initiating the relationship between the LORD (the King) and his people Israel.

  1. Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD (24.3)
  2. The people offered sacrifices to the LORD (24.5-6)
  3. Moses read aloud the covenant to the people. (24.7)
  4. The people promise to obey the LORD’s covenant (24.7)
  5. Moses takes the blood of the sacrifices and throws it on the people (24.8)

This blood sprinkled on the people indicates the fellowship between them and God has been confirmed.

It is called the ‘blood of the covenant.’

9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. (Ex 24.9-11)

‘Did not lay his hands on them’. Seeing God can have serious consequences. In this case they did not die.

12 The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.”
15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Ex 24.12-18)

‘Forty days and nights’. The number may or may not reflect a literal forty days. However it is symbolic of a number of significant events in Israels history.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

‘There is a clear connection between Mount Sinai and the tabernacle. Both are where God’s glory resides in the form of a cloud. According to Ex 24:16, the glory of Yahweh “settles” on the mountain. The Hebrew verb is šakan, which is the verbal form of the noun miškan, which means “tabernacle” (cf. Ex 25:9).

The cloud’s settling on the mountain thus anticipates the settling of the cloud over the tabernacle.

Sinai is not a reflection of the tabernacle but the other way around. God meets with his people at Mount Sinai, and the tabernacle is a way of making that presence “portable.” God’s glory rests on the tabernacle as it does on Mount Sinai. (Enns, P., 2000. Exodus, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)

Story of Jesus

Jesus inaugurated a new covenant in his death. This comes from the gospel;

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Mt 26.26-29)

The same theme of the blood of the covenant is in both Exodus and the gospel. Interestingly Jesus says, for the forgiveness of sins. The significance of the parallel between the Exodus and gospel accounts sheds light on what Jesus means by forgiveness of sins. In this instance forgiveness is more like the creation of a renewed people.

Are you part of Jesus’ covenant people?

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