The Blood Catalyst
Introduction: We began studying Ex 20 by looking at each one of the Ten Commandments. Ex 21 – 23 contain what has been deemed the Book of the Covenant, a practical fleshing out of the Ten Commandments. Ex 24 contains a ceremony that ratified this covenant established between God and His people. The Book of the Covenant (v. 7) is ratified by the Blood of the Covenant (v. 8).
There is much, however, for us to learn about how we should rightly relate with God. The chapter shows a progression that all believers go through – a progression that finds its catalyst in the blood of Christ:
1. Approaching God requires a ministry of intercession (24.1-2). We are unable to approach Him in and of ourselves because our lives are fraught with sin.
2. Obeying God requires perfect obedience (24.3-4a, 7). We are unable to obey perfectly in and of ourselves because every time we try we fail.
3. Trusting God requires resting in the blood sacrifice of Christ (24.4b-6, 8). We are able to trust only because God has provided a perfect sacrifice in His Son.
4. Seeing God requires supernatural enlightenment (24.9-11). We are able to perceive spiritual things only because God has lifted the veil.
5. Entering God’s glory and seeing Him face-to-face is the culmination of our life’s work. We shall see Him because He has promised we will.
So, a five-fold progression that begins with an initial approach and ends with eternal fellowship. Approaching, obeying, trusting, seeing, and entering. All verbs that point to Heaven. Let’s begin with…
Approaching God (24.1-2)
· God gives Moses explicit directions on how the people would approach Him in order to confirm the covenant (24.1-2).
o Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, went up with Moses. Nadab and Abihu were consumed by the wrath of God for offering profane fire upon the altar of God.
o The 70 elders were the men chosen to help administrate in Israel (Ex 18). They represented the 12 tribes of Israel.
o The children of Israel stayed at the foot of the Mount Sinai. The priests and elder went up the mountain, but were limited as to how much access they had to God.
o Moses drew near as the intercessor of Israel.
Application: God had a well-defined approach in His Word. The only way people approached God in the time of Moses was through his intercessory ministry and that of the priests. Today, Jesus Christ is the superior mediator. None approach God except through Christ.
5For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:5
Transition: Our approach is not ours at all. We have a Mediator, but notices also in the progression…
Obeying God (24.3-4a, 7)
· Moses came and told all the people all the words of the Lord and the judgments (24.3). The Ten Commandments (Ex 20) are the words and the judgments are the practical fleshing out of them (Ex 21-23).
· Moses wrote all the words of the Lord (24.4). This is a reference to both the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant (Ex 19-23). Israel had the written words of God.
· Moses will read the Book of the Covenant again (24.7 a). His first reading in v. 3 informed the people. When they heard it, they said they would do it (24.3). Moses read it again to clarify matters. The people reiterated that they would obey the Lord.
Application: It is important to God that we read His Word. It is very important that we do this individually and corporately (family, church, couple). We need to read it again and again in order to be constantly confronted by truth that leads us to say, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient” (24.7b).
Stop making and worshipping idols! Stop deceiving, stealing, and coveting what is not yours! Care for others and for their property! We say, “Yes, Lord! We will obey!” But do we in fact obey the Lord? Even if we increase in our obedience, we still fall short of the standard of perfection.
Israel learned (just as we have learned) that they could not meet God’s demands. They accepted the terms of God’s covenant because it was the right thing to do. However, they would fail miserably.
Transition: Our obedience is sporadic and imperfect. We may say that we’ll obey; but do we? That’s why we move toward step three in the progression…
Trusting God (24.4b-6, 8)
· Moses “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. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar” (24.4b-6).
o The blood would seal the covenant between the Lord and the children of Israel.
o Moses sprinkled the blood on the people in v. 8. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”
o Moses had read and clarified the Word of God. The people affirmed and reaffirmed that they would keep the Word of God.
o Moses built an altar that represented the presence of God. It was upon the altar that a blood sacrifice would be made. Israel could only approach on the basis of that sacrifice upon the altar.
o ½ of the blood was sprinkled on the altar (representing the presence of God) and the remaining ½ was sprinkled upon the people (24.8).
§ Shedding the blood of an animal meant the certain death of the animal. The animal would stand in the place of the people. The wage of sin is death.
§ The blood of the animal is also the life essence of the animal. Sprinkling that blood upon the people signified the life that they did not deserve being bestowed upon them by a merciful God.
o The animal sacrifices in Moses’ day looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ. This is why Moses worked urgently and carefully. God knew Israel would not keep His words. Yet they had to or else they would die!
Application: We sin as well. None of us keep the Law of God perfectly. Yet we can draw near to God on the basis of the blood of Christ. Christ is “set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith” (Ro 3.25). We have been “justified by His blood” and “we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Ro 5.9). In Christ “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph 1.7). We “have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2.13). The Lord Jesus established peace between the Father and mankind “through the blood of His cross” (Col 1.20). We have been washed “from our sins in His own blood” (Rev 1.5).
Hebrews 9 is rich with the preciousness of the blood of Christ: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9.12-14) The writer of Hebrews continues with Exo 24 firmly fixed in his mind: “Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19For 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, 20saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” (Heb 9.18-20)
Jesus said, “…This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt 26.28). Here, the blood is not of bulls, goats, or sheep. It is the blood of Christ, the blood of God Himself shed for sinful man. The only way to be forgiven and welcomed by God into Heaven for all eternity is through the shed blood of Christ. I am bold in my approach and without guilt in my standing because I have been brought near to God through the precious blood of His Son:
19Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10.19-22)
Transition: The blood of Christ is the catalyst that changes our whole approach to God. It provides spiritual perception where there was none. This core fact leads us to step four in the progression…
Seeing God (24.9-11)
9Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10and 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. 11But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
· Verses 10 and 11 state clearly that they saw God. But can any man see God and expect to live? Not according to Ex 33.20. How is that these Israelite leaders were able to see God and live?
o Verse 11 states that God did not lay His hand on the nobles of the children of Israel.
o God allowed these men to see Him in some way. Then, He withheld the punishment for gazing upon His holiness.
o We don’t have a description of what these men saw other than what was under God’s feet, the paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.
o Sapphire stone is a brilliant blue. It was not opaque like the sapphire we know, but rather it was clear as the very heavens or the sky.
o It is likely that the leaders of Israel never allowed their eyes to rise higher than the feet of God. More than likely, they were on their faces in fear. That they saw the feet of God seems to lead us to the logical conclusion that they saw God the Son.
Application: What if you could see God like this? Often unbelievers say that they need to see in order to believe. But we have learned that we can only see when we believe. We will see God one day. But we will see Him only because we have believed on Him. The Blood of the Covenant brought Moses and the elders into the very presence of God. The blood of the new and everlasting covenant will usher us into the very presence of God as well. We will see God face-to-face. Yet we can see Him now through His Word.
They ate and drank after they saw God. Eating and drinking indicate that they had fellowship with one another and with God. “Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 8.11). We are all “called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19.9). Jesus said to the church, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3.20).
Transition: We remain unsatisfied in this world. We see God, but we don’t see Him. That is, we must enter into Heaven above in order to be saved finally and completely from the presence of sin. Notice, step five in the progression…
Entering God’s Glory (24.12-18)
12Then 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.”
· Moses was called up to the mountain without the priests and leaders. God was to give Moses the tablets of stone upon which He Himself had written.
· Moses had written what God told him to write as we read at the beginning of this chapter. Now God writes part of it again (The Ten Commandments). This represents the fact that what Moses had written was indeed the very words of God.
· “Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1.21).
13So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14And 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.” Exodus 24:13-14
· After eating and drinking with God, the leaders of Israel must have moved down the mountain because vv. 13-14 state that Moses went back up the mountain with Joshua this time.
· Joshua is in the background. Waiting and learning. The best way to serve God is serve next to someone who is already serving Him!
· Moses tells the people that Aaron would be in charge. Moses thought that Aaron was able and ready to watch over the people. We will find out that he wasn’t (Golden Calf).
15Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain. 16Now 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. 17The 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. 18So 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. Exodus 24:15-18
· “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” (24.17).
· Moses went into the midst of the cloud. He was enveloped by the glory of the Lord. He entered the glory of God.
Application: God has revealed Himself to mankind. The problem is that sin has separated man from God. God solved the problem by providing the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Son. Once delivered from the power of sin, we are privileged to see God – to perceive His character from His Word. However, one day, God will call us up into the glory of Heaven. And, like Moses, we shall be enveloped in His glory.
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
18No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
All those who see Jesus see the Father. Jesus has declared Him!
17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:17
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, comfort one another with these words!
Hymn: My Savior First of All (502)