Exodus 24 (NRSV)
The Blood of the Covenant
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 at a distance. 2Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
3Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
The terms of the covenant having been stipulated, the people ratified the covenant by agreeing to abide by its conditions. (The Reformation Bible)
4And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord.
David Guzik enumerates the pattern of the covenant:
Israel had verbally agreed to a covenant-relationship with God; but there is a sense in which this is simply not good enough. They must do specific things to confirm their covenant with God. First, the word of God must be written: Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. God’s word was important enough that it was not be left up to human recollection and the creative nature of memory. It had to be written down.
He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord.
Second, covenant was only made in the context of sacrifice. Sacrifice admits our own sin and failing before God, and it addresses that need through the death of a substitute.
6Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. 7Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people;
Third, covenant was made when God’s word is heard and responded to. Our covenant with God is based on His words and His terms, not our own words and terms.
and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
8Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Fourth, covenant was made with the application of blood. As the nation received the blood of the covenant, the covenant was sealed.
Hebrews 9:14-20 (New Living Translation)
Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.
That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”
To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me
With His power He has raised me
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done.
Written by Andre Crouch. Sung by the Oslo Gospel Choir.
On the Mountain with God
9Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.
11God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.
12The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”
from Edges of His Ways,
by Amy Carmichael:
Exodus 24:12 — Come up to Me . . . and be there.
When Moses went up, a cloud enfolded him. In that cool darkness he heard words which afterwards he spoke to the people in the heat and glaring light of the plain. So, day by day, as we look forward into the hours which seem to rush upon us, we see not clearness but a cloud. Then a Voice that we know calls softly, Come up to Me, and be here; the Cloud of the Unknown becomes for us then the very over-shadowing of the wings of the Lord; we sit down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit is sweet to our taste. And this fruit, tasted first in the dark alone with Him, will be ours for others. “What I tell you in darkness,” He says to us still, “that speak ye in light” (Matthew 10:27).
13So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”
Moses had good reason to believe that these two men could supervise the camp of Israel. They already proved themselves as men capable of assisting Moses in prayer (Exodus 17:10-13). Yet Aaron and Hur didn’t do a good job guarding the camp – as will be demonstrated in the following chapters.
15Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17Now 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. 18Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
Forty days and forty nights . . .
like the flood:
Genesis 7:12 (New International Version)
And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
and Elijah’s journey:
1 Kings 19:8 (New International Version)
So Elijah got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
and Jesus’ time in the wilderness:
Matthew 4:2 (New International Version)
After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.