Sunday, August 26, 2012

XLVII - Exodus 23:20 - 24-18 - Sealing the Covenant

God's Angel to Prepare the Way  23:20

Vss 20-->  God tells Moses He is sending an angel for the new nation while they are in the wilderness.  The angel will guide the people to their new land.  Then God makes a covenant with the people:  In verse 22 He says that the "IF" they will do as the angel says, then God will be the enemy of their enemies and will wipe them out.  In verse 24 God again warns them not to bow down to the gods of the Canaanites or follow in their practices.  God goes on to make three more promises:  1) He will take away sickness from them  2) No Israelite women will be barren  3)  He will give them long life.

Vss 27--> God promises to send terror to the nations ahead of the Israelites.  {Probably through either a cloud or a pillar of fire.}  But God tells them it will take more than a year and He explains why:  If He empties the land of inhabitants, the wild animals will multiply and make the land too dangerous for the Israelites to inhabit, and the Israelites needed to multiply in their own numbers so as to have enough people to occupy the land.  God then tells them exactly where the promised land is geographically.   From the Sinai peninsula north to the Euphrates River and from the great desert (Saudi Arabia) westward to the Mediteranean Sea.  This is a HUGE piece of land.  At this time there were about two million people that made up the nation Israel.  To occupy a territory this large, it would take considerably more than that.  Then at the end of chapter 23, God AGAIN warns them:  Do not get involved with these people and their gods.  Even if they do not worship their gods, the Canaanites will cause the Israelites to sin.  {This is not the first and certainly not the last time we will see warnings against spending time with ungodly people due to the dangers of being influenced to live lives not pleasing to God.  We see throughout History that bad infuence the good much more quickly than the good influence the bad.  And the consequences are always severe.}

Chapter 24  -  Ceremony of a Blood Covenant

Vss 1,2  In calling Israel to a solemn ceremony, God divided them into three groups.  First, there was an assembly of all the people.  Secondly, there were the seventy elders.  Finally, there was one man, the leader Moses.  I would think it safe to assume that the elders were the judges appointed by Moses back in chapter 18.  Only makes sense.  These judges needed as much direct teaching of the laws in order to be more prepared to judge the people properly.  In vss 3,4 Moses relayed to the people what God had said and the people agreed to everything.  Then, note that Moses wrote down everything God had told him, thus what I've always considered the first part of the Holy Bible.  Neat, huh?

Vss 5-->  Moses prepared a worship service.  He built an altar of "12 STONES", representing the 12 tribes of Israel.  He then had a bull slaughtered, dividing up the bull's blood into two equal parts.  He threw half on the altar and sprinkled the other half onto the people.  Moses then read from the Book of the Covenant to all the people and again had them agree to the terms.  This marked one of the first formal worship services recorded.  {That worship service called for three things to happen:  1) Blood would be shed for atonement of sins  2) God's requirements for His people would be read and expounded upon and 3)  The people would respond with commitment.   Our worship services should be similar:  The atoning blood of Christ has already been shed to cover all worship services and all attendees should be made mindful of that.  Then, the Holy scripture should be read and expounded upon ("sermon").  Then the attendees should prayerfully commit to God their response to live according to His Word.  Not so complicated.}

Vss 9-11 tells of the elders seeing God.  KJV describes God standing on a paved work of sapphire stones.  A beautiful glowing blue color.  John 1:18 tells us that noone had ever seen God.  I believe these people saw the glory of God on Sinai.  We cannot tell for sure what they saw physically, but they did see enough to make them afraid.  Then all that had gone up celebrated the occasion with a meal.

Vss 12-18  -  Moses Goes Up The Mountain

The Lord called Moses up the mountain.  He promises to give Moses the law engraved in stone.  Moses took only one man with him:  Joshua.  Joshua was mentioned earlier and will be quite a significant character very soon.  Moses knew it would take quite a while for him to be up on the highest peak of this mountain, so he left Aaron and Hur in charge.  Moses would end up being there 40 days.  When Moses got to the top of the mountain, a cloud settled on it which was the glory of God.  Often time God has hidden Himself in a cloud.  Even in the New Testament a cloud covered the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matt. 17:5)  When Jesus ascended to heaven, a cloud took Him out of their sight.  The cloud always showed that God was there, but hid His full glory from view.  In addition to the cloud, fire also represented God's presence.  Fire was what the Israelites saw from the bottom of the mountain.

So Moses was with God on Mt. Sinai for forty days.  Next post we'll see what God tells Moses.

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