Moses is called up into the mountain, The people promise obedience. (1-8) The glory of the Lord appears. (9-11) Moses goes up into the mountain. (12-18)
Verses 1-8 A solemn covenant was made between God and Israel. Very solemn it was, typifying the covenant of grace between God and believers, through Christ. As soon as God separated to himself a peculiar people, he governed them by a written word, as he has done ever since. God's covenants and commands are so just in themselves, and so much for our good, that the more we think of them, and the more plainly and fully they are set before us, the more reason we may see to comply with them. The blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on the altar, on the book, and on the people. Neither their persons, their moral obedience, nor religious services, would meet with acceptance from a holy God, except through the shedding and sprinkling' of blood. Also the blessings granted unto them were all of mercy; and the Lord would deal with them in kindness. Thus the sinner, by faith in the blood of Christ, renders willing and acceptable obedience.
Verses 9-11 The elders saw the God of Israel; they had some glimpse of his glory, though whatever they saw, it was something of which no image or picture could be made, yet enough to satisfy them that God was with them of a truth. Nothing is described but what was under his feet. The sapphires are the pavement under his feet; let us put all the wealth of this world under our feet, and not in our hearts. Thus the believer sees in the face of Jesus Christ, far clearer discoveries of the glorious justice and holiness of God, than ever he saw under terrifying convictions; and through the Saviour, holds communion with a holy God.
Verses 12-18 A cloud covered the mount six days; a token of God's special presence there. Moses was sure that he who called him up would protect him. Even those glorious attributes of God which are most terrible to the wicked, the saints with humble reverence rejoice in. And through faith in the atoning Sacrifice, we hope for greater honour than Moses ever enjoyed on earth. Now we see through a glass darkly, but when he shall appear, then face to face. This vision of God will continue with equal, if not increasing brightness of joy; not for a few days only, but through eternity.
Exodus 24:1-18 . DELIVERY OF THE LAW AND COVENANT.
3, 4. Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord--The rehearsal of the foregoing laws and the ten commandments, together with the promises of special blessings in the event of their obedience, having drawn forth from the people a unanimous declaration of their consent, it was forthwith recorded as the conditions of the national covenant. The next day preparations were made for having it (the covenant) solemnly ratified, by building an altar and twelve pillars; the altar representing God, and the pillars the tribes of Israel--the two parties in this solemn compact--while Moses acted as typical mediator.
5. young men--priests ( Exodus 19:22 ), probably the oldest sons of particular families, who acted under the direction of Moses.
oxen--Other animals, though not mentioned, were offered in sacrifice ( Hebrews 9:18-20 ).
6. Moses took half of the blood . . . sprinkled--Preliminary to this was the public reading of the law and the renewed acceptance of the terms by the people; then the sprinkling of the blood was the sign of solemn ratification--half on each party in the transaction.
8. Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people--probably on the twelve pillars, as representing the people (also the book, Hebrews 9:19 ), and the act was accompanied by a public proclamation of its import. It was setting their seal to the covenant (compare 1 Corinthians 11:25 ). It must have been a deeply impressive, as well as instructive scene, for it taught the Israelites that the covenant was made with them only through the sprinkling of blood--that the divine acceptance of themselves and services, was only by virtue of an atoning sacrifice, and that even the blessings of the national covenant were promised and secured to them only through grace. The ceremonial, however, had a further and higher significance, as is shown by the apostle (see as above).
9. Then went up Moses, and Aaron--in obedience to a command given ( Exodus 24:1 Exodus 24:2 ; also Exodus 19:24 ), previous to the religious engagement of the people, now described.
Nadab, and Abihu--the two oldest sons of Aaron ( Exodus 6:23 ).
seventy of the elders--a select number; what was the principle of selection is not said; but they were the chief representatives, the most conspicuous for official rank and station, as well as for their probity and weight of character in their respective tribes.
10. And they saw the God of Israel--That there was no visible form or representation of the divine nature, we have expressly intimated ( Deuteronomy 4:15 ). But a symbol or emblem of His glory was distinctly, and at a distance, displayed before those chosen witnesses. Many think, however, that in this private scene was discovered, amid the luminous blaze, the faint adumbrated form of the humanity of Christ ( Ezekiel 1:26 ; compare Galatians 3:24 ).
sapphire--one of the most valuable and lustrous of the precious gems--of a sky-blue or light azure color and frequently chosen to describe the throne of God (see Ezekiel 1:26 , 10:1 ).
11. upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand--The "nobles," that is, the elders, after the sprinkling of the blood, were not inspired with terror in presence of the calm, benign, radiant symbol of the divine majesty; so different from the terrific exhibitions at the giving of the law. The report of so many competent witnesses would tend to confirm the people's faith in the divine mission of Moses.
eat and drink--feasted on the peace offering--on the remnants of the late sacrifices and libations. This feast had a prophetic bearing, intimating God's dwelling with men.
12. I will give thee tables of stone--The ten commandments, which had already been spoken, were to be given in a permanent form. Inscribed on stone, for greater durability, by the hand of God Himself, they were thus authenticated and honored above the judicial or ceremonial parts of the law.
13. Moses went up into the mount of God--He was called to receive the divine transcript. Joshua was taken a little higher, and it would be a great comfort for the leader to have his company during the six days he was in patient waiting for the call on the seventh or sabbath day.
14. he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us--There is a circular valley or hollow a good way up on the brow of Jebel Musa, which was their halting place, while he alone was privileged to ascend the highest peak. The people stood below, as in the "outer court," the elders in the "holy place," Moses, as a type of Christ, in "the holy of holies."
18. Moses went into the midst of the cloud--the visible token of God's presence. Divine grace animated and supported him to enter with holy boldness.
Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights--The six days spent in waiting are not included. During that protracted period he was miraculously supported ( Deuteronomy 9:9 ), on a peak scarcely thirty paces in compass.