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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-
Or, "afar off". The original plan had been as in Ex. 19:13 LXX: "When the voices and trumpets and cloud depart from off the mountain, they shall come up on the mountain". But this didn't happen- see on Ex. 19:14. They were not sufficiently sanctified; see on Ex. 19:10. The people "perceived" Yahweh's holiness and their sinfulness and continued idolatry. And they shied away from Him (Ex. 20:18), whereas His intention was that they came close. But they retreated to "a distance" (s.w. Ex. 20:18,21). These words are so sad. It was a rejection of intimacy with God. And yet God wanted at least some level of relationship with them, and so He still allows and encourages them to worship Him "from a distance", even although that was not His ideal initial intention. He had hoped for more intimacy with them. 

"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-
See on :1.
"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 recognized 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-
The Hebrew mishpat, "ordinances", has a wide range of meaning. The idea is of judgment, as if God and His Angels gave these laws as their considered judgment after considering the human condition, and Israel were to abide by them. But the word also the idea of a right or privilege; and that is how we should see God's laws. They are only felt as a burden because of human hardness of neck towards God's ways. His laws are not of themselves burdensome, but rather a privilege and blessing. The law was indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), designed to inculcate a holy, just and good life (Tit. 1:8), a way in which a man should "walk" in daily life (Lev. 18:4), a culture of kindness and grace to others which reflected God's grace to man. If we dwell upon the idea of "rights" carried within the word mishpat, we note that the law begins in Ex. 21:1,2 (also Dt. 15:12-18) with the rights of a slave- those considered to have no rights in the society of that day. The "rights" to be afforded by us to others are the essence of God's rightness / justice.  

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-
Moses was obviously literate, having been trained with the best wisdom and education of Egypt.

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-
Some covenants of the time were confirmed by the two parties drinking, daubing or touching the blood of the other party. God has no blood, but the sprinkling of blood was as it were His maximum way of telling them that His life, His "blood", was poured out for them and to them. And this was looking forward to the pouring out of the blood of His Son on the cross; not that Jesus was God Himself, but He represented God- and His life, His blood, His essence, His love, poured out toward His people to assure them that the covenant promise of salvation would indeed come true. There is therefore the intended ambiguity of Acts 20:28, "the church of God which He has purchased with His own blood". The idea seems to be that God was manifested in the blood of His Son.  

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. The blood represented God's side of the confirmation; their side was to vow obedience and loyalty to their covenant with Him. And this is likewise our response to the blood of the new covenant, which was God's way of showing His loyalty to us to the ultimate extent.

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-
Perhaps :1,2 were originally between :8 and :9 but became dislodged. 
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-
This surely refers to His manifestation in the Angel which specifically represented Israel, Michael (Dan. 12:1,2).

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 dwells 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 implication is that He didn't slay the elders, even though their were somehow unclean and deserved it. All the same, God fellowshipped with them in the covenant meal (cp. the breaking of bread under the new covenant). So the covenant began with grace being shown. Or the idea could be that although they "saw God", they didn't die- as was commonly supposed.

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-
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. 24:17; Dt. 5:22). 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)?

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-
The six days  followed by the seventh recalls creation. The idea was in those six days of contemplation of Yahweh's glory, Moses and Israel were to be suitably humbled so that Moses might enter into the things of the rest of God, the Kingdom.

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-
See on :15. Our God remains a consuming fire of judgment to this day (Heb. 12:29). But the idea was that Israel were intended to understand that despite this, a man like Moses could fellowship with this God. And so could they. And despite living in full view of God's judgment and His glory for 40 days, they worshipped the golden calf. This is evidence for all time that visible evidence doesn't guarantee true faith, let alone obedience (Heb. 11:1,2). 

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-
This was the more impressive when we understand that the cloud was a cloud of fire (:17; Dt. 5:22). Israel ought to have got the message that mere man could indeed fellowship with such a holy and awesome God. Yet instead they shied away from it, to the pathetic worship of gods of wood and stone. Moses neither ate nor drank during those forty days (Dt. 9:11). Ex. 24:16 says that Moses was six and a half days on the mountain waiting for the call to meet God, so he was with God for 33 and a half days. This perhaps looks forward to the 33 and a half years ministry of the Lord Jesus.