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Basic Bible: Promise of Obedience

Exodus 19:1-6; 24:3-8

In the text before us, Moses relayed the words of God to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. Moses had previously relayed instruction from God to Israel shortly before the exodus from Egypt. In Exodus 12 and 13, he instructed the children of Israel to keep the passover and to consecrate the first born to the Lord.

“In the third month . . .” (v. 1). The third month would be more than 60 days but less than 90 days from their departure from Egypt. The children of Israel had experienced a lot in that short time. They had been gathering and eating manna for a month or more. They had drunk of the water which gushed forth from the rock at Rephidim and had battled with Amalelek. They also had journeyed from Rephidim to Mount Sinai where Moses and the elders ate before the Lord with Jethro (Ex. 18:12).

The Lord called out to Moses from the mountain and told him to speak to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel of the things which they had witnessed Him do. After reminding them of that which they had seen, Moses told them of that which they must do to become a peculiar treasure to the Lord. To become that treasure, they must obey God and keep His covenant (v. 5). If Israel would do these things, they would become a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, unto Him.

The covenant which Israel needed to keep was the law which God would give. As set forth in verses 5 and 6, the Lord was bound to make Israel His special people — a people unto Him, above all people of the earth. In receipt of being placed above all other people, Israel would be required to obey the voice of the Lord.

Before promising to make Israel His personal, peculiar treasure, the Lord said: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” Israel was to remember that the Lord had delivered them from bondage. He had delivered them such that they should become a kingdom of priests, an holy nation.

New Testament believers have been given a better covenant. We have seen what God has done — He has given His only begotten Son such that we might become the sons of God (John 1:12). God the Father reaches out with grace to all and delivers all who believe from sin. New Testament believers have become God’s special treasure through grace, and grace alone; He has borne us up on eagles’ wings.

After Moses had relayed all the words which the Lord had commanded, the people said, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” The people promised to “obey my voice” and “keep my covenant.” Moses returned the words of the people to the Lord (v. 8).

The words which Moses spoke to the people in verse 3 would have included everything that the Lord said between Exodus 20:22 and 24:2. Note that ALL the people answered. All could not have answered unless all heard. All would have consisted of approximately two million people. How could Moses have spoken to such a vast number and all have heard and responded? Since seventy elders of Israel were present with Moses (24:1), it would seem reasonable to assume Moses made the words of the Lord known to the elders who repeated them to the leaders of thousands, who then relayed his words to leaders of hundreds, who spoke to leaders of fifties and leaders of ten (see Ex. 18:25).

“And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord . . .” (v. 4). The words of the Lord which Moses penned in verse 4 of Exodus 24 were the ten commandments (Ex. 20), the judgments (Ex. 21-23), and instructions to keep three appointed feasts (Ex. 23). The physical substrate upon which Moses was a scroll. It was the book of the covenant which he read before all the people on the following morning. See verses 4-7 (Ex. 24).

After writing the book of the covenant, Moses erected an altar consisting of twelve pillars of stone. The stones of the altar would have been unaltered by the hands of any man (Ex. 21:25). Moses positioned the pillars such that burnt sacrifices could be offered upon them. Moses directed young men to sacrifice oxen as burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar (v. 5).

Moses sprinkled half of the blood upon the altar and half upon the people. The two-fold sprinkling of blood represents an unbreakable bond between God (symbolized by the altar) and the people. Verse 8 states that Moses sprinkled the blood upon the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.”

One should note that both burnt offerings and peace offerings were offered up to the Lord. In a burnt offering, the animal sacrifice is totally consumed upon the altar and ascends to God in heaven as a sweet savor. Peace offerings were roasted upon the altar and divided between the presenters and priests for consumption. The burnt offering symbolizes giving all to the Lord, while the peace offering signifies reconciliation with God.

The peace offerings which were made upon the altar which Moses constructed could not have been physically divided, distributed, and partaken of by each and every individual present. Neither could Moses have physically sprinkled blood upon the entire assembly of Israel. All present, however, knew that they were counted as bound by the blood and that the offerings were their offerings.

New Testament believers are under the covenant of grace which is sealed by the blood of the Lamb. It is our reasonable service to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1).

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