Moses goes to receive the Ten Commandments:

We continue our study of Exodus with Ex 24

Last time, we studied: 

We read that they were not to make deals with the people of the land. 

By failing to ask for God’s guidance, they did.   

Our study this evening:

Moses goes to receive the Ten Commandments:


(Exo 24 NKJV)  Now He said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.


Nadab and Abihu, begin very privileged, but they lose the blessing:  (Lev 10:1-2 NKJV)  Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. {2} So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

“Seventy of the elders of Israel”  This is the first mention in the Bible of “seventy elders.”  Some feel that this is the origin of the Sanhedrin.  This became the court that “tried” Jesus in His mock trial which is another story.  The word “Sanhedrin” is never used in most translations, but it is referred to as the council: “Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,”  (Mat 26:59 NKJV)


“Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel”

. . . are blessed with getting to "Come up to the LORD,” but some clarification follows:


{2} "And Moses alone shall come near the LORD, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him."


“but they shall not come near;” seems to tie in with the thought: and worship from afar.


(Ex 24:3) So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do."


We have heard this before: (Ex 19:8)  ‘Then all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.’  In Ex 19, it may be applied to hearing the ten commandments,

In Ex 24, it probably applies to all the others laws that God gave Moses.


So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.’  Moses served as true mediator.  He took God’s words to the people.  He took the peoples’ words to God.


{4} And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Moses builds an altar, probably of turf, as was commanded, Exo_20:24, and erects twelve pillars, no doubt of unhewn stone, and probably set round about the altar.

The altar itself represented the throne [presence] of God; the twelve stones, the twelve tribes of Israel. These were the two parties, who were to contract, or enter into covenant, on this occasion.” – Adam Clarke


I think it is interesting that as this covenant begins for them, again, there is something concrete, or physical, involved.  We have the physical elements of the Lord’s Supper and baptism.  They had the pillars and altar.  Not an exact parallel, but something tangible in both cases.


(Ex 24:5) Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. {6} And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

(Ex 24:7) Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient." {8} And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words."


The Hebrew writer takes note of apparently what happened on this occasion:

(Heb 9:18-20 NKJV)  Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. {19} For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, {20} saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."


The story continues.  We have something described like a scene from heaven.

(Ex 24:9) Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, {10} and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. {11} But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.


Compare what we have just read with: (Deu 4:15 NKJV)  "Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,


So do these two verses contradict each other?

Consider another verse:  (John 1:18 NKJV)

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.


 “and they saw1 the God of Israel”


1a1) to see

1a2) to see, perceive

1a3) to see, have vision

1a4) to look at, see, regard, look after, see after, learn about, observe, watch, look upon, look out, find out

1a5) to see, observe, consider, look at, give attention to, discern, distinguish

-- Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon


Returning to (Ex 24:10) and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.


A scene similar in some respects to what we often call the throne room scene in Revelation:


From (Rev 4:6 NKJV)  Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.


Back to (Ex 24:12) Then the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them."

(Ex 24:13) So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.


“With his assistant Joshua,” so what does Joshua get to experience of the presence of God?  Apparently he gets to be with Moses in waiting for six days as we will notice in verse 16.

Did this experience help Joshua to be the man he was, or was it because he was the man he was that he had this experience?


(Ex 24:14) And he said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them."


Sad to say, Aaron was not up to the assignment.  He experienced a serious spiritual breakdown.  Great men:  Moses, Joshua, and Aaron, but two of the three have great moments of weakness.


(Ex 24:15) Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain.

(Ex 24:16) Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.


“He called to Moses--”  No mention is made of Joshua, so from all that follows, we must assume that he was left to return to the camp.


(Ex 24:17) The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.


(Deu 4:24 NKJV)  "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.


(Deu 9:3 NKJV)  "Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you.


Does this have any meaning for us?

 The Hebrew writes says it applies to us as well:

(Heb 12:27-29 NKJV)  Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. {28} Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. {29} For our God is a consuming fire.


(18) So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.


How would you describe that experience?

Scary?  Awesome? Unsettling? or Fantastic?


“Forty days and forty nights.’ The word forty occurs 159 times in the Bible.  Some of these occurrences are in combination with other numbers:  “forty one,” “forty thousand,” etc., but many seem to be God’s choosing:  The reigns of kings, the days of rain for the flood, Jesus temptation, the years of wandering in the wilderness, and the list goes on.


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