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Deeper Commentary

Exo 24:1 He said to Moses, Come up to Yahweh, you, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship from a distance-

"I will that they also... be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me" (Jn. 17:24) alludes to the 70 elders sharing some of Moses' experience in the Mount; it is as if Christ is saying that his disciples really can enter into his relationship with God, we can be where he was spiritually in his mortal life.

Exo 24:2 Moses alone shall come near to Yahweh, but they shall not come near, neither shall the people go up with him-

"Where I am, thither you cannot come" (Jn. 7:34) sounds like Moses ascending the Mount, leaving Israel behind him. Yet " Where I am" refers to Christ's unity with God; the heights of his relationship with God connect with the physical ascension of Moses into the mount to hear God's words. Moses' ascents of the mountain were seen as representing an ascension to Heaven; but he had not ascended up to the "heavenly things" of which Christ spoke. Consider the spiritual loneliness of rising to heights no other man has reached, as far as Heaven is above earth. John the Baptist recognised this (Jn. 3:31).

Exo 24:3 Moses came and told the people all the words of Yahweh, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which Yahweh has spoken will we do.
Exo 24:4 Moses wrote all the words of Yahweh, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel-

There were so many similarities between Elijah and Moses; Dale Allison points out:
Confronted Ahab (1 Kings 17:1) = Confronted Pharaoh (Ex. 5:1)
Fled into the wilderness fearing for his life (1 Kings 19:3) = Fled into the wilderness fearing for his life (Ex. 2:15)
Miraculously fed “...bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening...” (1 Kings 17:6) = Miraculously fed “...meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning...” (Ex. 16:8, 12)
Gathered all Israel to Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:19)=Gathered all Israel to Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:17)
Combated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40) = Combated the magicians of Pharaoh (Ex. 7:8-13, 20-22; 8:1-7)
Successful in his intercession for Israel to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (1 Kings 18:36-39) = Successful in his intercession for Israel to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (Ex. 32:11-14)
Elijah took twelve stones at Carmel “...according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob...” (1 Kings 18:30-32) = Moses had twelve pillars set up at Sinai “...corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel...” (Ex. 24:4)
The Lord accepted Elijah’s offering by sending fire from heaven and consuming it completely. The people threw themselves down on their faces. (1 Kings 18:36-39) = The Lord accepted Moses and Aaron’s offering by sending fire from heaven and consuming it completely. The people threw themselves down on their faces. (Lev. 9:22-24)
By Elijah’s authority 3000 idolatrous prophets were slain (1 Kings 18:40) = By Moses’ authority 3000 idolaters were slain (Ex. 32:25-29)
After killing the prophets of Baal Elijah climbed Carmel to pray. (1 Kings 18:42) = After killing the idolaters Moses climbed Sinai to pray (Ex. 32:30)
Went without food for forty days and forty nights (1 Kings 19:8) = Went without food for forty days and forty nights (Ex. 34:38; Dt. 9:9)
Elijah was in “the cave” on Horeb (=Sinai) when the Lord “passed by” (1 Kings 19: 9-11) = Moses was hidden “in the cleft of the rock” when the Lord passed by Sinai (Ex. 33:21-23)
Elijah saw storm, wind, an earthquake and fire upon Horeb (=Sinai). (1 Kings 19:11-12) = Moses saw storm, wind, an earthquake and fire upon Sinai (Ex. 19:16-20; 20:18; Dt. 4:11; 5:22-27).
Prayed that he might die (1 Kings 19:1-4) = Prayed that he might die. (Num. 11:10-15).
The Lord brought down fire from heaven upon his enemies (2 Kings 1:9-12) = The Lord brought down fire from heaven upon those who rebelled against him (Num. 16; cf. Lev. 10:1-3)
Elijah parted the waters of the Jordan by striking the waters with his cloak and passed over on dry ground. (2 Kings 2:8) = Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea by stretching out his staff and passed over on dry ground (Ex. 14:16, 21-22)
His successor was one who had served him and came to resemble him in many ways, parting the waters of the Jordan as he had (2 Kings 2) = His successor was one who had served him and came to resemble him in many ways, parting the waters of the Jordan as he had the Red Sea (Josh. 3)
Was taken away in the Transjordan (2 Kings 2:9-11) = Died in the Transjordan (Dt. 34:5)
Mysteriously translated (2 Kings 9-18) = Died mysteriously and buried in a valley, but his burial place was unknown. (Dt. 34:6)
The point of these similarities was that the Angel wanted Elijah to be like Moses; to pray for the peoples’ salvation, to return to the people and lead them and teach them. Moses had begged for God’s mercy for His people; but Elijah was so full of self-justification that he prayed against Israel. And so with us, we are potentially led into situations where we are to discern the similarities between us and Bible characters; we are set up with opportunities to respond in a way that reflects how we have learnt the lessons from them. The way the Lord Jesus perceived this in His wilderness temptations is a great example.

Exo 24:5 He sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of cattle to Yahweh-

Joshua appears to have been only one of a group of Moses' "young men" , who moved around the camp running his errands (Ex. 24:5; Num. 11:27,28); as a similar group did for Nehemiah and Paul years later. The young men of the New Testament were also characterized by their love of the word (1 Jn. 2:14). Moses would have had a special fondness for this generation who were to enter the land. A large part of the Law was concerned with Israel's behaviour after they had settled in the land; these would only have been relevant to that younger generation. It is fitting that both Moses and Caleb (and Joshua?) maintained their youthful vigour right up to their death (Dt. 34:7; Josh. 14:11).  


Exo 24:6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
Exo 24:7 He took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, All that Yahweh has spoken will we do, and be obedient-

Moses could read- for he had been raised with the best of the Egyptian education system (Acts 7:22). This kind of internal corroboration within the Biblical record is to me the strongest argument for the Bible's Divine inspiration.

Exo 24:8 Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which Yahweh has made with you concerning all these words-

 Even the old covenant, which was in a sense “eternal”, was made with Israel “upon all these conditions” (Ex. 24:8 RVmg.). It was eternal, potentially, because it had conditions. But the conditionality of it isn’t always brought to the fore when, e.g, we read of the sabbath as being an eternal ordinance.  The way conditions are not stated within the actual prophecy is similar to how blanket statements are made in Scripture, and yet there are exceptions to them. The Lord sought to kill Moses in Ex. 4:24. If He had done so, all His previous statements about delivering Israel by the hand of Moses would not have come true. God only didn’t kill Moses because Zipporah intervened. She did this purely of her own freewill and according to the depth of her spiritual vision. Thus the earlier prophecies about delivering Israel by the hand of Moses actually had at least one major, though unspoken, condition: If Moses himself remained faithful. “But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue” (Ex. 11:7) was in fact conditional on Israel remaining indoors. But that condition isn’t then stated.

Moses bound the people into covenant relationship with the words: “Behold the blood of the covenant” (Ex. 24:8). These very words were used by the Lord in introducing the emblems of the breaking of bread (Mk. 14:24). This is how important it is. We are showing that we are the covenant, special Israel of God amidst a Gentile world. Indeed, “the blood of the covenant” in later Judaism came to refer to the blood of circumcision (cp. Gen. 17:10) and it could be that the Lord was seeking to draw a comparison between circumcision and the breaking of bread. For this is how His words would have sounded in the ears of His initial hearers. This is how vital and defining it is to partake of it.

It wasn’t that the blood was the covenant, but the death of the slain animal represented the confirmation and certainty of the covenant. Christ’s death confirmed the new covenant which was made in the promises to Abraham (Rom. 15:8; Gal. 3:15-19). Believers take the cup of the new covenant in the breaking of bread service (1 Cor. 11:25), as a token of the absolute certainty of God’s basic promises to we who have had those same covenant promises made to us through baptism (Gal. 3:27-29). We will eternally inherit the earth- and the blood of Christ confirmed that to us.

Exo 24:9 Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up-
It seems to me that God's intention was that His people Israel were to develop their nation into the world-wide Kingdom of God on earth- a calling they miserably failed to achieve in the past, even though the prophets speak of the wonderful way it will come true in the future. Their territory would have literally been "to the ends of the earth"- and perhaps that's why there's the ambiguity in the Hebrew word eretz, which can mean both 'the land / earth' of Israel, and the whole planet earth. Further, the 70 Jewish elders appointed in Ex. 24:9-11 were what the New Testament letter to the Hebrews calls a reflection of the things of Heaven on earth- for there were 70 Gentile nations within the eretz / land promised to Abraham (tabulated in Genesis 10), and I suggest that these 70 elders were intended to ultimately rule over them. This would explain the enigmatic Dt. 32:8, which speaks of the boundaries / differentiation of the Gentile nations being set according to "the sons of Israel", or (LXX) "the Angels of God". Putting the evidence together, it would seem that there were 70 Gentile nations in the eretz / land, represented in Heaven by 70 Angels, who in turn were represented on earth by the 70 elders of Israel. It was God's intention that His people should rule over the nations- and yet they as it were marred the reflection of what was in Heaven, the pattern of things in Heaven became ignored. And yet the day is yet to come when men will eagerly take hold of the skirts of a Jew and go with him to worship the true God. From all this I see yet again all the potentials God has made possible for us in our age... and how, despite the fact He may foreknow that we'll waste them, He still sets up those potential possibilities for us. We are too are chosen to be king-priests over this world (Rev. 5:10), we too have a representative Angel in Heaven beholding God's face... yes, you, and me. We have an Angel there. It's for us to go ahead and reflect the pattern of Heaven here on earth.

Exo 24:10 They saw the God of Israel. Under His feet was like a paved work of sapphire stone, like the skies for clearness-

The mention that Jesus stood before Pilate “in a place that is called the Pavement” (Jn. 19:13) reminds us of Ex. 24:10, where Yahweh was enthroned in glory on another ‘pavement’ when the old covenant was made with Israel. The New Covenant was inaugurated with something similar. “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9) would have been easily perceived as an allusion to the way that Yahweh Himself as it were dwelt between the cherubim on the mercy seat (2 Kings 19:15; Ps. 80:1). And yet the Lord Jesus in His death was the “[place of] propitiation” (Heb. 2:17), the blood-sprinkled  mercy seat.

Exo 24:11 He didn’t lay His hand on the nobles of the children of Israel. They saw God, and ate and drank-

To eat and drink with the Lord is a sign He accepts us and does not wish to destroy us. This is the comfort of doing so at the breaking of bread meeting.

The Bible images salvation as a feast with God at His table. The salvation of Israel from Egypt forms the source material for many later allusions to our salvation in Christ- and it was celebrated by Israel being invited up to Mount Sinai to eat and drink with God (Ex. 24:9-11); and it was regularly commemorated in the Passover meal. The future Kingdom of God was spoken of as a meal on a mountain, “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, for all peoples” (Is. 25:6-8). Then, death itself will be on the menu and God will swallow it up. It is pictured as an eternal feast which will last eternally.   People from all nations of the earth are to be God’s guests. No one is to be excluded. The records of the feeding miracles are presented in terms of this Messianic banquet. We are reminded of how at the Last Supper, Jesus shared bread and wine with those who seriously misunderstood Him, of whom He had to ask “Do you now believe…?”, and knowing full and painfully well that one of the twelve was to betray Him.

Exo 24:12 Yahweh said to Moses, Come up to me on the mountain, and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and the commands that I have written, that you may teach them-
The Law was “a law... which I (Yahweh) have written” (Ex. 24:12). Yet the Lord Jesus speaks of Moses writing the precepts of the Law (Mk. 10:5). “The book of the law of Moses” is parallel with “the book of the law of Yahweh” (Neh. 8:1; 2 Chron. 17:9); it was “the book of the law of Yahweh given by Moses” (2 Chron. 34:14). God was so strongly manifest in Moses.

Exo 24:13 Moses rose up with Joshua, his servant, and Moses went up onto God’s Mountain-
When Paul says that we each with unveiled face have beheld the glory that shines from the face of the Lord Jesus, just as the glory to a lesser extent shone from the face of Moses (2 Cor. 3:18 RV). Yet the only person to behold Moses’ unveiled glory was Joshua, who alone lived in the tabernacle where Moses received the glory (Ex. 33:11). And it was he who alone accompanied Moses up the mount to meet with God (Ex. 24:13). When Moses left Joshua and went out to the people, he veiled his face. But Joshua would have seen the glory shining off Moses’ unveiled face.

Exo 24:14 He said to the elders, Wait here for us, until we come again to you. Behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever is involved in a dispute can go to them-
As those miserable men argued over the clothes at the foot of the cross, so when Israel stood before the glory of Yahweh at Sinai, they still suffered “disputes" amongst themselves (Ex. 24:22 NIV cp. Heb. 12:29). So pressing and important do human pettinesses appear, despite the awesomeness of that bigger picture to which we stand related.

Exo 24:15 Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain-

Ex. 13:21 says that there was a pillar of cloud in the day time and a pillar of fire by night. But at the time of the Exodus, there was a pillar of cloud for the Egyptians and a pillar of fire to give light in the night for the Israelites (Ex. 14:20,24). Could this mean that the meaning of time was collapsed at this time? It was night for the Israelites but daytime for the Egyptians? Is. 42:16, amidst many exodus / Red Sea allusions, speaks of how God makes the darkness light before His exiting people. The many Johanine references to the Lord Jesus being a light in the darkness for His followers would then be yet more elaborations of the idea that the Lord Jesus is the antitype of the Angel that led Israel out of Egypt (Jn. 8:12; 12:35,46). Num. 9:21 says that the pillar of cloud was with the Israelites at night, and sometimes it was taken up in the night and they therefore had to move on. Does this mean that there were times when the meaning of time was collapsed during their journey, and the night was made as the day (perhaps Ps. 139:12 alludes to this experience)? When Yahweh came down on Sinai, He was enveloped in a cloud of fire- suggesting that there was no day and night for Him (Ex. 24:15-17; Dt. 5:22).

Exo 24:16 The glory of Yahweh settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. The seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exo 24:17 The appearance of the glory of Yahweh was like devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel-
Exo 24:18 Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up on the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.