Exodus 24

What festivals do your family and your culture celebrate? Most of us enjoy a good party for significant occasions.

Some Christians are familiar with the second half of Exodus 24, as Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive the God-inscribed laws and commands verbalised in Exodus 20–23. Fewer of us know about the unparalleled party that opens today’s chapter.

The party is recounted in two scenes. The meat in the sandwich (24:3–8) tells of how the Israelites promise to obey their part in God’s covenant treaty. The three speeches are the most significant part of the ceremony. Twice the Israelites promise to obey everything the Lord has said. And Moses formalises the treaty with a sacrifice, drawing attention to ‘the blood of the covenant’ that he sprinkles on the people.

Wrapped around these formalities, seventy-four of Israel’s elders are invited to join God in a treaty-signing meal (24:1–2, 9–11). God has promised to treat this nation as special: recall 19:4–6. So these representative elders can feast in God’s very presence without danger – and we read the narrator’s surprise at this privilege!

We Christians are even more privileged than those first-covenant people. We might miss the words of the New Testament – the ‘new-covenant book’ – when it assures us that Jesus has ‘sprinkled’ us with his blood, which assures us safe access into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 1:1–2). And we are regularly reminded of this safe welcome when we rehearse our own treaty celebration. In the central words of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus himself says: ‘This is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many.’ We are now invited to join Moses and Aaron and Nadab and Abihu and Israel’s other dignitaries as we feast safely in God’s presence!

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