For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

24:1.  “And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.”


As noted already, Moses means drawing out, because he had been drawn out of the Nile, the great river of Egypt, that drawing out having its ultimate application to the Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom Moses is a type, and of Whom it is written, “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” Matthew 2:15. 


Aaron means light-bringer, and as Israel’s high priest he is also a type of the true High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nadab the willing one is another type of Christ Who was willing to die for the Father’s glory, and the redemption of men’s souls; and Abihu my father is he; father of him, is yet another type of Christ living and dying for His Father’s glory and the redemption of men’s souls.


The seventy elders seem therefore to represent the believers of both the OT and NT ages, their being commanded to worship reminding us that worship is the highest privilege accorded believers in every age; and since worship is the expression of love for God, we are being reminded that the ultimate expression of that love is the presentation of an obedient life, as it is written, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Samuel 15:22.


24:2.  “And Moses alone shall come near the Lord: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.”


God’s permitting Moses alone to come near, while the others had to worship at a distance, points to yet another truth connected with the Lord Jesus Christ.  His sacrifice was first for His Father’s glory, His expiation of man’s sin, great work though it was, being secondary.


Even in worship man must stand as it were at a distance: the expiation of his sins, and the redemption of his soul, being excelled by the Lord’s offering of Himself first for God’s glory.


24:3.  “And 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 hath said will we do.”


“... all the words of the Lord” refer to everything that God had said, but “the judgments” related more specifically to His instructions, ordinances and laws that were to govern their relationship with Him.


And the foolish people, unaware of their own sinfulness and inability to do what they promised, said, “All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.”  How much wiser they would have been to say, “We lack the power to meet God’s standards, to obey His commands, but we cast ourselves upon His mercy, and beseech Him to uphold and bless us according to His infinite love and grace, not because we are worthy, but because He is of very great compassion.” 


Man’s proper attitude is exemplified in that of the one whose words are recorded in Mark 9:24, “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”


“... I believe; help thou mine unbelief” seems to be a contradiction in terms.  It isn’t.  He was simply acknowledging that his belief was weak and faltering, but in spite of that it was sincere, and he was begging the Lord to respond to it, not in proportion to its paucity, but according to His limitless love and mercy.  That same earnest humility in the presentation of our own petitions will go far to secure the measure of blessing described in Ephesians 3:20, “... exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think....”


24:4.  “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.”


“... the words of the Lord” were the Ten Commandments, and it is deeply significant that Moses’ next act was to build an altar “under the hill” i.e., at the foot of the mountain.  He seems to have known how completely Israel would fail in keeping that holy law, and how much therefore that altar would be needed in connection with the expiation of their multiplied sins, for he knew that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22.


The twelve pillars are generally believed to have been twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes, and their close proximity to the altar declares symbolically the nearness of the place of remedy to the place of transgression.  The type was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ came down to where we were “dead in trespasses and sins,” and presented Himself as the perfect propitiation, available to every sinner who will trust Him as Savior and Lord, as it is written, “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it,” Deuteronomy 30:14.  The Lord Himself is the personification of the Word, see John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  There was no way He could have come nearer to us than by becoming man and taking His place here amongst us.


24:5.  “And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.”


The word “young” here means “teenagers,” and the time was prior to the setting up of the Tabernacle and its worship ritual, the lesson symbolically taught in this being that worship is to be marked by spiritual vigor which is the counterpart of the mental and physical energy and freshness of young manhood.


The burnt and peace offerings were expressive of worship, in contrast with the trespass, sin, and meal offerings, which had to do more particularly with the expiation of sin.


There is instruction also in the fact that the animals to be offered were oxen, i.e., young bullocks, the most costly of all the offerings.  God sets a far higher value on worship than on service, and a question we would do well to ask ourselves is, What does the worship I present at the Lord’s Supper cost me?  How much time do I spend during the week in preparing for that most solemn of all Church meetings? 


What passes for worship indicates all too often that little or no time has been spent in preparation.


24:6.  “And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.”


The blood in the basons was used as described in verse 8, while the other half was sprinkled on the altar: it was all for God; but since it represents the precious blood of Christ the lesson being taught is that the Lord’s sacrifice was first for His Father’s glory, and then for the expiation of man’s sin.


24:7.  “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.”


See comments on verse three relative to the people’s rash words. In that verse it is said that he “told the people,” i.e., he informed them verbally, but here he repeated the words by reading them: they were recorded in a book: there could be no future question as to the terms of the covenant they were promising to keep.


24:8.  “And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.”


Two truths are connected with this sprinkling of the blood on the people: first, it warned them that infraction would forfeit their lives; but second, it pointed - though they didn’t realize it - to the precious blood of Christ which alone could make atonement for sin.


24:9.  “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the seventy of the elders of Israel:”


See comments on verse 1 for the significance of these names.


24:10.  “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.”


This was simply a manifestation of God, but not His actual person, for it is written, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live,“ Exodus 33:20; and again, “No man hath seen God at any time....” John 1:18.


Sapphire is clear blue like the sky, hence the further description “like the body of heaven in his (its) clearness.”


24:11.  “And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.”


Some understand this to mean that they ate and drank there at the mount after having offered sacrifice, while others take it to mean that they survived this encounter with God, their eating and drinking being a metaphor for their continuing the ordinary activities of life.  The former however, seems the more likely.


24:12.  “And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written: that thou mayest teach them.”


The fact that they didn’t die confirms that what they saw was a manifestation of God, but not His actual person; and relative to their eating and drinking, they lived to resume their ordinary lives, which included eating and drinking.


The reference here is to the Ten Commandments.


24:13.  “And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua; and Moses went up into the mount of God.”


“minister” here means aide: assistant: attendant.


24:14.  “And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.”


The elders must not approach any nearer than the foot of the mountain; and while Moses and Joshua were up there with God all questions, problems, complaints, were to be addressed to Aaron and Hur for settlement.


24:15.  “And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.”


24:16.  “And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.”


The fact that the Divine glory upon mount Sinai was covered by a cloud implies that its full effulgence would have destroyed a mortal beholder.


The six days during which Moses waited may perhaps represent the believer’s natural life; and the seventh - number of perfection or completeness - the completion of his earthly life, and his entry into heaven.


24:17.  “And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.”


In Deuteronomy 4:24 God is described as a consuming fire, “For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God,” and in 9:3 “... the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them (the Canaanites)....”


24:18.  “And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.”


Moses’ ascent into the cloud may represent the Lord’s ascension to heaven at the end of His post-resurrection ministry.  But since four or forty is the number of trial or testing, the spiritual lesson here may be the reminder that the interval during which we await the Lord’s return, is also a time of testing.  Sadly, it all too often reveals our weakness and failure.


Deuteronomy 9:9 informs us that during those 40 days and nights he neither ate nor drank anything, so that this may be also a foreshadowing of the Lord’s experience in the desert when He neither ate nor drank for forty days and nights, see Matthew 4:1-2.

[Exodus 25]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough