40 Days to Jerusalem
The New Exodus Begins ‚Äì Day 15
Weekly Theme: The Exodus ‚Äì From Death to Life
Today‚Äôs Meditation: Covenant Crafted - Family Formed
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‚ÄúCome up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, 2 but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.‚Äù 3 When Moses went and told the people all the Lord‚Äôs words and laws, they responded with one voice, ‚ÄúEverything the Lord has said we will do.‚Äù 4 Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.
He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, ‚ÄúWe will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.‚Äù 8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‚ÄúThis is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.‚Äù 9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:1-11)
All children are different! Some respond to gentle scolding. Others require more assertive techniques of behavior modification. I have learned that one of my children does not respond to the ‚Äúboard of education‚Äù very well. He will remain nameless, but, as the youngest, we find that he does react in a positive way to the revocation of privileges. The thought of losing something he values is great motivation for him to change his ways. When his behavior warrants, and something is taken away, it is always interesting to watch him when these prized possessions are restored to him. In our meditation today we will see that humanity is strongly disciplined by God on a similar but much grander and life changing scale. Our lesson takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden and then to Mount Sinai.
Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created Adam in His ‚Äúimage and likeness.‚Äù As we have noted, when Adam had a son, Seth was in Adam‚Äôs ‚Äúimage and likeness‚Äù (Genesis 5:3). Luke 3:38 confirms to us the Adam was ‚Äúthe son of God.‚ÄùImagine the blessed privilege of being God‚Äôs first created Son.
When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, he was given two tasks. Genesis 2:15 tells us, ‚ÄúThe Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.‚Äù The two verbs underlined here, in their literal sense mean ‚Äúto serve‚Äù and to ‚Äúprotect‚Äù or ‚Äúguard‚Äù. The next time we run in to these verbs used in tandem is in Numbers 3:7-8. In this passage, the Levitical Priests were given the same instructions. God instructed them that, ‚ÄúThey are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. 8 They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle.‚Äù Adam in the garden, like the Levites in the tabernacle, was expected to carry out priestly responsibilities.
We also read in Genesis 1:28 that Adam and Eve were given dominion over all of creation. ‚ÄúGod blessed them and said to them, ‚ÄúBe fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.‚Äù Some translations use the phrase, ‚Äúhave dominion‚Äù. This communicates that Adam held the status of King.
Before the ‚Äúfall,‚Äù God blessed Adam with the grace and privilege of sonship, the profession of priesthood, and the power of Kingship. Sadly, this grand design was rendered null and void through the introduction of sin. By violating the one prohibition given to them by God, Adam and Eve forfeited the perfection of Eden. God warned them about eating the forbidden fruit. He said, ‚ÄúThe day you eat of it, you will surely die‚Äù (Genesis 2:17). And so they died ‚Äì spiritually.
The rest of the Scriptures are a canvas upon which God paints His plan to restore to humankind what was forfeited by our original parents. Through a succession of covenants, God seeks to restore his crowning creation to a FAMILY relationship with Him. As we will see in today‚Äôs meditation, the sonship, priesthood and kingship are also offered to the Israelites as they arrive at the Mountain of the Lord, the place where Moses met God in the burning bush. It is here that the Children of Israel will enter into the Sinai Covenant.
Even before Israel left Egypt, God was beginning to bring restoration to His people. In Exodus 4:22-23, God tells Moses, ‚ÄúThen say to Pharaoh, ‚ÄòThis is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, Let my son go‚Ä¶‚Äô‚Äù As Adam was called the ‚Äúson of God,‚Äù now Israel received this privileged designation. God, through the Exodus and establishment of the Sinai covenant, would reclaim Israel as His son. And, notice that the end of verse 22 reveals Israel as the ‚Äúfirstborn son‚Äù. Israel is the firstborn son to the family of 70 nations whom God wishes to reclaim as well (see Genesis 10). These other nations are, in effect, the little brothers of Israel, and God intends to reach them through their big brother. Zechariah 2:11 speaks of the ultimate realization of reclaiming the nations. God says, ‚ÄúMany nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people.‚Äù This was to be accomplished through the ministry of the first born son. In all of this we see that God restored to Israel the grace of sonship that Adam lost.
When they arrived at Sinai, Moses went up on the mountain and received the Word of the Lord. Exodus 19:5-6 tells us, ‚ÄúThen Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‚ÄúThis is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‚ÄòYou yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles‚Äô wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.‚Äô These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.‚Äù In establishing the covenant with Israel, God was not only restoring sonship, He was also calling the Israelites to be a kingdom! There would be a kingly role for them. This royal responsibility once belonged to Adam but was lost. Now, God is restoring it to Israel. Further, they were to be more than a kingdom. They would be a kingdom of priests! Again, the duty Adam was assigned but forfeited was being given to the Children of Israel. What sin had torn down, God was rebuilding through the covenant. God said all of this would come to pass if they, ‚Äúobey me fully and keep my covenant.‚Äù
Exodus 24 records the sacred assembly of God‚Äôs people at the base of Mount Sinai. Notice the familiar covenantal pattern of worship with Word and Sign as the ‚Äútwin peaks‚Äù. First, the people gather together. Moses receives the Word of the Lord and ministers the Word to the people. They respond that everything the Lord says, they will do. Moses builds an altar of twelve stones representing each tribe. Then, a sacrifice is made. Moses collects the blood from the sacrifice and declares, ‚ÄúThis is the blood of the covenant.‚ÄùHe proceeds to sprinkle half on the altar and half on the people. This signifies that God and the people are unified by blood. If they are faithful, the blood will be their bond and they will be family. If they are unfaithful, they will become like the sacrificed victim ‚Äì cut off from God. Afterwards, Moses and the elders went back up the mountain and dined with God!
So, let‚Äôs summarize what is happening here? Every covenant has two components ‚Äì the Word of the covenant and the Sign of the covenant. The sign is usually a sacrifice and/or a meal. It is the sign which ratifies the covenant. In this beautiful scene, God has restored to Israel what was lost by Adam, and He has drawn the Israelites unto Himself as His firstborn son through the covenant.
With Moses as the deliverer and mediator of the covenant, things are going really well. But, there are storm clouds gathering. Soon, Moses will ascend the Mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. While he is away, all that God had done to restore Israel came crashing down in a repeat of Adam‚Äôs original sin. In mere days, the people would disobey God and worship a golden calf ‚Äì one of the Egyptian gods! Apparently, being baptized into Moses was not adequate. His work as a mediator was insufficient. The sacrifice was obviously sub-par and not effective. The blood of the covenant just was not potent. And the people were predictably unable to keep the covenant. Sadly, they were just like Adam! What was needed? A New and better Moses, a New and better Covenant, a New and better Sacrifice, and a New and better Exodus were needed. Indeed something new and greater was called for‚Ä¶and that something was a Someone.
Prayer for Today
Praise God for offering us restoration through His only begotten Son
Give thanks to the Son for His selfless saving acts on our behalf
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you just how precious Jesus really is and pray that you might love Him with all that you are
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any unconfessed sin
Repent, Confess and ask the Lord to forgive you
Receive His forgiveness
Ask the Lord to reveal to you someone who needs to hear a Word from the Lord. Then, pray that He will give you the courage and the message to share.
Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 ‚ÄúMoses was faithful as a servant in all God‚Äôs house,‚Äù bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God‚Äôs house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. (Hebrews 3:3-6)